Dowagiac dog groomer places in national competition

DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac resident Brandy Smith has been grooming dogs since she was 15 years old.

“I’m a fourth-generation groomer. It is literally bred in me,” she said with a laugh. “It is something I have always loved.”

Late last month, the 22-year-old dog groomer was able to showcase her love of grooming on a national stage, as she placed in a dog grooming competition across the country.

Swift is a dog groomer at Bow Bow Bakery and Bath, 145 S. Front St., Dowagiac. She recently competed at Fun in the Sun, a national dog grooming competition sponsored by the National Dog Groomers Association of America. The competition took place in Orlando, Florida, where Swift placed third in the C Division of the competition.

Looking down at the green plaque she won as a result of her performance in the competition, Swift said she was happy and grateful that she placed.

“It felt really good because it was a lot of work,” she said. “I teared up.”

For the competition, Swift groomed an English Cocker Spaniel with long, golden fur. With an animal with so much hair to work with, Swift said the competition became tense and challenging, as groomers only had two hours start to finish to groom their animals for the competition.

“Halfway through the competition, I just wanted to pull [the dog] off the table and go hide,” she said. “I was so nervous. I didn’t think I would finish in time because he had so much hair.”

Despite this, Swift stuck out the competition and said she was glad she did, as it allowed her to hone her grooming skills.

Swift said she sees every experience as an opportunity to learn, and the Fun in the Sun competition was no exception. At the competition, she said she was able to learn ways she can improve her grooming and presentation skills.

“This was a huge learning experience for me, because it is something I can’t really get around here,” she said. “After you compete, you get critiques from the judges, and you can learn so much.”

Deb Rohdy, owner of Bow Wow Bakery and Bath, said she thinks it is great that Swift competed in the competition.

“I’ve known many groomers, and I’ve never know one to go for this competition before,” she said. “To me, it’s her own kind of test to be tested by her peers. She put herself through this just to be tested by her peers, and I think that’s quite a compliment. It’s quite a big deal.”

Going forward, Swift said she is planning to compete again next year — hoping to earn first place.

“This was just a really fun and good experience,” she said. “If there is one thing I could tell other groomers about this, it is that they should compete and learn, and if they can’t compete, they should observe. You really do learn so much.”

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