SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 70: For the Love of Dogs

“I’m cheating!”

These are the words my husband, Richard, springs on me this morning.


He continues to unload his burden:  “I’m cheating. When the dog groomer called to confirm our appointment, I just couldn’t help myself. I asked her if she would be my 365 subject for the day. How could I do that?  I mean, she’s not really a stranger?”

I looked at him for a moment and then launched into my lecture (poor hubby) – it went something like this:

People in the Sun, 1960, Edward Hopper (Smithsonian American Art Museum)

TERRI (that’s me):
Richard, I think you know that one of my favorite painters is Edward Hopper.

[Nods, bracing himself for an analogy that may or may-not have any relevance to his concern about artistic integrity.]

Do you know one of the reasons he appeals to me?

[(Thinking) I guess I’m about to find out.]

Well, next time you look at a Hopper painting, take a moment to observe the human interaction. You won’t find any. Check out People in the Sun, or Nighthawks  — people together, maybe even doing the same thing, but no interaction. His paintings are a commentary on our modern world. A person can live for years in the same home and never even know their next-door neighbor’s name.

Yes! You are so right! (I love it when he says that).

Nikki has been grooming our dogs for almost 15 years. Tell me something about her.

She grooms dogs…


… uh, she drives a mobile grooming truck.

She’s a stranger to you. You know, sweetheart, perhaps some of your 365 strangers are going to be the most obvious, and each of them has a story… just as much as the person you cold-intro yourself to at the airport or on the street.

…will you write my blog for me today?

Ya, right!  Nice try.

Well, here I am, writing his blog.  Not because he is lazy or uninspired — but because he is worn-out!  If you read last night’s post you will know that after hanging-out with his new 365 fire-spinning friends, he didn’t crawl into bed until almost 3:30am, followed by a mid-morning conference call, working, shooting/interviewing his 365 friend for today, and some daddy-daughter time. Now, Richard is in great physical shape (teaches spinning 3 times week and mountain bikes some pretty gnarly trails), but he is no longer in his uh… 20s, so by 5pm he was done. Being the wonderful wife that I am, I took pity on him tonight and offered to write his 70th 365 post.

So, here it is…

Meet today’s friend, the lovely Nikki and her dog, Betty.

A professional pet groomer for 18 years, Nikki thinks everyone should love what they do, and it is clear that she lives by her own mantra. “I want everyone to have a nice-looking, clean, fluffy, good smelling dog.”

Starting her mobile business just two years after completing her training, her father calls her an entrepreneur, but Nikki prefers to think of herself as a perfectionist. For Nikki, it’s not about just getting the dog groomed and out-the-door, it is equally important to her to make the entire grooming experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible for the dog. She is pleased that she is often able to take on a difficult dog that is very resistant or scared of the grooming process and make it bearable for them. She does it for the love of the dogs.

Nikki’s desire for perfection is evident in her craft – she is one of the few dog groomers who use shears (not clippers) to hand-clip the finish work on dogs… OK, at this point I am sure some of you are thinking: “It’s a dog! Clippers. Shears. What difference does it make?” 

Well, here’s the difference (those of you who have a dog will know exactly what I’m talking about). Ever have your dog shaved by the vet, an inexperienced groomer, or for the summer? You barely get in the door and your dog is gone!  They are hiding from the world. They know how silly they look.  It’s really true.  The inverse is true when our Scottish Terrier hides when he hears Nikki’s truck pull up – he hates to be groomed, but believe me when I tell you, he struts around thinking he’s “all that” the minute he steps off her truck. He knows he looks good!

Nikki loves her craft and she takes it seriously; she is good at what she does and the difference is apparent. “I go beyond for my customers,” and the proof is self evident – she has so many dedicated customers that it is difficult for her to fit in newcomers

Driving from appointment to appointment, she is accompanied by her own pooch, Betty. A sweet, good-natured, American Bulldog, Betty began life with Nikki first as “Betty-Spaghetti,” and then “Betty White,” but they both agree now that Betty-Boop is the right name for her.

Nikki sees herself  “retiring” someday with an expanded business of mobile groomers, allowing her the time to breed American Bull Dogs.

Nikki, thank you! Keep doing what you love and what you do so well. You are an inspiration to all of us.

Richard’s back tomorrow!