x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

When every day is a dog day

A day in the life of Samer Alogidi, an Iraqi dog groomer in Abu Dhabi who brushes up to three or four dogs a day, and at night relaxes with his two pooches, a Havenese and a cockapoo.

Samer Alogidi, the owner Pooch Parlour in Abu Dhabi, with one of his regulars, Hunter, a 14-year-old American Cocker Spaniel. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Samer Alogidi, the owner Pooch Parlour in Abu Dhabi, with one of his regulars, Hunter, a 14-year-old American Cocker Spaniel. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

5.30am

I wake up early and take my two dogs – a Havanese and a Cockapoo – for a walk in the housing complex where I live. I then do morning exercises and have breakfast with scrambled eggs and a protein shake around 7.30am. I get ready and go to my Pooch Parlour Pets Salon, which is a 20-minute drive from my home. Before setting up the salon, I worked in Abu Dhabi’s real estate sector for six years but then the downturn in the economy hit. From an early age I was a dog lover, so I decided to pursue this profession, quitting real estate in late 2010. The next year, I attended a two-month dog grooming course in Manchester, graduating with a diploma. It was hands-on training where you handle a dog from day one. On one occasion, I groomed a Border Collie which had been involved in a search and rescue operation in Japan after the tsunami. In 2011, I started the process of getting a licence, which was lengthy and complicated as the business activity itself was not listed in the chamber of commerce. Finally, we opened in late 2011 in Mohammed bin Zayed City.

9.30am

I typically have three to four appointments a day. Since I am a one-man band I have flexible work hours – I come in only when I have appointments. If I have a 10am appointment, for example, I come in around this time. I vacuum, mop, wash and sanitise the worktable, the clippers, trimmers, comb and scissors before and between each dog for hygiene reasons because each animal carries its own bacteria. Some have skin conditions and some salivate. When a dog comes in, I observe its reaction to me. Most dogs are cooperative. After I establish a connection with the dog, I point out the hair condition or any allergy to the owner. Once we agree on what needs to be done, the owner leaves. That’s because the owner can be a distraction and dogs will become uncooperative with me, the stranger. After the owner leaves, I give the dog a few minutes to adjust to me, so that I can take care of him.

11am

I continue grooming the dogs. A small-to-medium sized dog takes around two hours to groom, and a larger animal six hours. I start trimming the hair around the eyes, and move on to the ears. I trim long hairs and clear wax, dirt and moisture in the ears. Long nails need to be cut, and excess hair between the fingers needs to be trimmed as well. This takes about 20 minutes. I then give the pet a haircut based on the dog’s activity level, season and habitat. This is followed by a bath, blow dry, brush and final styling. The price range for this is between Dh150 to Dh600. The dogs I usually groom are Yorkies, miniature Poodles, Lhasa Apsos and miniature Schnauzers.

12pm

I have a lunch of chicken salad with vegetables, tomato juice and snacks, which I bring from home. I prepare everything I cook. I have another light meal of grilled chicken or cucumber salad at 4pm.

2pm

I work on another appointment. It can be tiring because I stand the whole time or bend over tubs, but it’s a rewarding experience for me.

7pm

I arrive home around this time after vacuuming and cleaning the salon. The best way for me to relax at home is to lie on the sofa with my two dogs on top of me. They do not get on very well with each other and compete to get my attention. After relaxing a bit, I have a light dinner with yogurt salad or tuna salad and then take my dogs out for a walk for half an hour. For some, my day might seem a little bit boring, but for me it is fulfilling.

8.30 pm

I am ready for bed. In the future I would like to set up a one-stop shop for all pet needs – for medical, grooming, day care and behaviour training, but I am not in a hurry.

ssahoo@thenational.ae