Spill it: A conversation with certified pet groomer Noni Ruff

Friday, November 30, 2007 | 3:00 p.m. CST; updated 8:57 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Noni Ruff, 33, has been a certified pet groomer since 2000. She started working at All Dogs-n-Cats, 805 E. Nifong Blvd., three years ago.

On an average day, she says she grooms nine or 10 dogs, including nail trims, haircuts and special styles.

While growing up, Ruff says her last name was an easy target for teasing. These days, it’s a perfect fit.

Favorite breed to groom?

Dogs like Shelties where you don’t have to take a lot of hair off. You bathe and brush them and trim the hair off their feet, make them look clean.

Biggest dog you’ve clipped?

Irish wolfhound — the largest breed. I’ve also done standard poodles, labradoodles — some of those can get pretty big.

Smallest dog?

Just today I had a little Maltese. He must have been two or three pounds.

Any advice for owners?

Buy a brush and comb. Treat your dogs like they’re your children, a perpetual 2-year-old. Your 2-year-old hates to have her hair brushed, but you have to do it.

Do you just groom dogs?

Mostly dogs, and I used to do cats. I was giving one a bath and he kept jumping out of the tub — almost all the way up to the ceiling — and so I held onto him with one hand and he turned and bit me five times. I have two rats, and I bathe them, but there’s no need to cut their hair.

Are cats harder to groom?

Dogs are more domesticated and trained and conditioned to stand on the table. Cats are more unpredictable. With cats it’s more about getting it cut fast than making it look pretty.

Do customers make unusual requests?

One woman had a little poodle and wanted it to look like a lion. The next time she asked for a Mohawk. People have brought their poodles in for a continental clip like the show dogs, with hair on the shoulders and head big and poofy and little poms on the feet.

How do you deal with a hyper dog?

Be very patient. We have some devices that we use­ — a restraint around the neck so they can’t move a lot. It’s how we present ourselves. We try to keep them calm.

What’s the biggest mistake owners make?

They don’t brush daily. By not brushing, you don’t redistribute oils, and it causes skin problems.

What do most people not know about your job?

I feel like it’s not taken seriously sometimes. We take pride in our work. It’s a lot more than just playing with puppies. We have a lot of work that we do — knowing different types of hair, how to trim nails, how to deal with puppies so we don’t scare them to death.

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