Fur & Pixie Dust

An Anxious Boy and His Dog

 

I couldn't be more proud of the following blog, mainly because it was written by my son Zane, but also because it takes courage to speak about mental illness/wellness and share our experiences with others.  Being a dog lover to the core, I  see how they change and impact people's lives daily - "Stedman" has done just that!  Thank you Zane for allowing me to share this on my blog platform!  
Love you!
Connie (Mom)

an anxious boy & his dog

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The idea of dogs bringing humans happiness is by no means a foreign concept. In western culture, the integration of a schnauzer in even the most hostile of environments will spark a noticeable shift in disposition. This dynamic has always been ingrained in me, but I’ve never evaluated its source. Out of an unfathomable number of species that cohabitate this abounding planet, we are debatably affluent in that we are the most advanced – and out of all of the remaining lifeforms, we have predominantly enforced the domesticity of dogs. Whether the kinship between the two was innate or was something evolved over time through strategic breeding tactics is unknown. It is, however, common opinion that there’s an unspoken bond between dogs and humans that defies the confines of pet and owner. In my experience, this bond has often proven more therapeutic than resources provided by western medicine.


I would foremost like to preface that I’m by no means a psychoanalyst, nor do I have an advanced aptitude for canines; or any animals for that matter. In spite of the comical fact that I’m the heir to a rather large dog grooming empire (my parents’ business), I have no credentials that warrant me giving pet advice to strangers. My affiliation with dogs is limited to the fact that I’ve been exposed to many, and with few exceptions, I have thoroughly enjoyed their company. I do, however, have a somewhat noteworthy, feel-good story in which a dog is a pivotal catalyst.


Inherently, I have always been an anxious person. I have had an on/off relationship with Zoloft since the humble age of twelve. It’s so deep-seated in my psyche that I can’t say I would know a sober life without it – I suppose that’s why they call it chronic. It was a rocky adolescence but I always had access to the tools necessary for managing it. Not to mention a support system of family members who were similarly diagnosed. I followed the standardized steps that an ordinary young man did: graduated high school, graduated college, got a shitty job and an appropriately shitty apartment. My mental state didn’t throw a wrench in any of that, until about a year and a half ago, when without warning or reason I suddenly short circuited.


I don’t think that what happened to me can be explained to someone without me coming across as sensationalistic. But in short, the tools I had to manage my brain had suddenly disappeared. I was a complete shell of a human – to the point that I had to fly to my childhood home so that my parents could take care of me and seek medical help. There was about a month of me being horizontal in my old twin bed before, with the right cocktail of anti-depressants, I was sent on my way. Propelled back into my mundane life like a finely tuned robot who completed all of it’s assigned tasks with due diligence, but minimal emotional responsiveness. This remission lasted about half a year before I malfunctioned again. We scrapped all of the meds and went back to my normal regiments which left me less stable but more life-like.


At this point, after dabbling with all kinds of holistic approaches, my mom pitched the idea of “a therapy dog”. This idea thrilled me intrinsically in a way that I hadn’t felt in months, only to be quickly intercepted by self-loathing logistics. “I can barely take care of myself”, was my immediate response. This was quickly followed by concerns regarding financial instability and the inability to stay rooted in one place long enough to create a home for a pet. My mom fashioned an ultimatum in which I would adopt a dog of her choosing for two months and if I felt it was counterproductive to my recovery, she would take it off of my hands; sort of a trial run.


Enter Stedman – a six-month old Brussels Griffon from the nearby town of Guelph, Ontario whom my mom manifested through her outrageous database of dog connections. This dog had all of the awkward energy of a prepubescent boy channeled into the 7 pound, wire-coated frame of a gremlin / Ewok hybrid. His head was in-proportionately large for his body; comparable to a grapefruit. Meanwhile, all of his facial features encompassed a minimal perimeter of that terrain – about the proximity of a mandarin orange. His eyes were both drastically angled outwards – resembling a hairy Steve Buscemi. In succinct terms, he was just bizarre – and it resonated with me deeply.


But I wasn’t wrong. I was far from mentally, socially and economically equipped to take care of this thing, or at least I was, up until the moment I got him. Stedman didn’t only check off the boxes as a loyal and loving companion for a depressed owner, but he embodied accountability. I couldn’t follow all of the destructive patterns that kept me unwell because now they would be destructive to an outside party. I had something depending on me to get out of bed every morning, maintain a steady income and leave my apartment numerous times a day. I had no choice really. And with that came the preceding fulfillment of achieving something I deemed myself inadequate of  – subsequently opening other doors that were previously locked by self-doubt.


A cardinal trigger for my anxiety was loneliness. Every single panic attack I’ve endured has happened in solitude. It’s kind of a vicious cycle in the sense that my mental maladjustment has transformed me into an introvert, but my detachment is a primary source of uneasiness. I always made a joke that I want to be in a serious relationship solely so that I can have a physical body around at all times. One whom I don’t feel the pressure to entertain – because, for me, it’s the physical loneliness that stings more than the lack of conversation. Perhaps there’s a scientific philosophy in that vein that I’m unaware of. Regardless, Stedman fills that void. That loneliness has subsided. I can see how this could be perceived as counterproductive in the sense that human-to-human socialization is also crucial – but that’s improved as well. My relationship with Sted sort of acted as a stepping stone in that regard.


Now, although I like to brand myself as a broad-minded romantic, that’s more of a self-fulfilling prophecy in the works. Innately, I’m a skeptic and a realist – I have trust issues – and while I was mentally flat-lining, my cynical outlook was rampant. When people would tell me that dogs are receptive to your emotions and can gauge illness or pregnancy or menstruation or whatever, I wasn’t convinced. I held dogs at face-value: cute but mindless auto-companions who’s emotional capacities are limited to either excited, hungry or sleepy. It soon came to my awareness that I wasn’t giving these animals due credit. As soon as Stedman and I established our codependency, my recovery was very much a joint project.


In the midst of my remission and his puppy-hood, Stedman was a busy body – always able to self-entertain. However, his motor would come to an instantaneous halt the moment I hit a wall mentally. He would become stagnantly glued to me until I showed signs of vitality again – sometimes this would span over an entire day. Even now, he won’t leave my side if I show any symptoms of uneasiness – but can switch to complete self-sufficiency when I’m of sound mind. I’ve noticed him taking on this caregiver persona with my roommates when they’ve been sick or depressed as well – which brought to mind a conversation I had with my mom at my lowest point (prior to purchasing Sted). I asked her what she thought brought dogs fulfillment. They have no real future ambitions or perspectives as far as romance goes – so what’s their driving force? How to they maintain happiness? Without a moment of hesitation, my mom insisted that dogs live to make their owners happy. In hindsight, that might not have been such a far-fetched (pun intended) notion after-all.


In layman’s terms, Stedman’s just a good time. There’s no psychological data necessary to support the fact that he makes me smile. He makes me laugh. And he makes others laugh and smile which makes me laugh and smile. And with that, I’m back to my normal, moderately anxious self, who at the end of the day has a weird and wonderful dog to return to. I’m living in the tumultuous, confusing whirlwind of my early twenties…but with a dog!  Stedman’s an inevitable shining light in even the darkest of times – something that I didn’t have, or at least was too ignorant to see, before Stedman. And as of his recent second birthday, Stedman is now a certified therapy dog at a local hospital – where he makes others smile – which makes me smile. Sort of the cliche ending to my self-produced hallmark movie of the week. So no, Stedman didn’t perform a medical miracle and strip me of all of my mental woes – but he was happy to be along for the ride, and in turn, I managed to regain the ability to be happy to have him.

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How A Single Poodle Named "Gracie" Inspired a Successful Dog Grooming Business Named Zoom Zoom Groom

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“Difficulties come when you don’t pay attention to life’s whispers. Life always whispers to you first, but if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you’ll get a scream”~ Oprah

In 2006 I heard the scream loud and clear.  I was teaching a grade 4/5 split class in a public elementary school. I was 42 years old, taught for 20 years, and feeling I wasn’t doing my life’s purpose.  Don’t get me wrong I LOVED TEACHING, however, being disheartened by school funding constraints, larger class sizes, and limited supplies and resources, my love for the “Teaching” part was extremely compromised.  It was during this time of my wavering conviction to the teaching profession, that I purchased a beautiful, white Standard Poodle puppy named “Gracie“.  She was intelligent, charismatic, and loving, and she somehow knew at the end of the day, just how to de-stress me!


She was a Poodle from an amazing line and she was to be shown in Conformation Shows in hopes to receive her Championship status with the Canadian Kennel Club. Although I didn’t handle her in the show ring, I did take care of her coat, with hours of bathing, brushing & combing- and thus the whispers began…  GROOMING GRACIE RELEASED MY PASSION, AND EXCITEMENT- I became an artist and all I wanted to be was a dog groomer!

My husband (Randy) and I have three beautiful, incredible sons, which at that time were young adolescents/teenagers, and were heavily involved in extra-curricular activities. We had a mortgage, bills to pay, and letting go of a job (which I worked hard to acquire in the first place), was a huge risk/responsibility.  In 2006, I took a one- year-leave-of-absence, purchased a small grooming trailer, and promised my husband and family, I would make as much as I did teaching, and all would be well-  No clientele, no formal training (I went to dog shows and literally sat in a corner watching the professionals groom)- just me and my determination and motivation to make this work.

Gracie became my mentor.  She taught me everything I know on how to groom. To this day, I believe if you can groom a poodle, you have the skills to groom any breed! Gracie became my logo.  Her picture was wrapped on my Zoom Mobile, and she became the famous dog of Zoom Zoom Groom.  My fleet of mobiles grew to three in a year and a half.  My staff was small but growing, and the demands for the mobile grooming service were high.  Needless to say, I never returned to teaching in the public school system. BUT…

“Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher”…. (remember these words as I share more of Gracie and my story).

As expansion continued, I opened a Salon in Regina.  Now, clients could pay for a premium service of the mobile coming right to their door, or they could bring their dogs to our salon at a reduced rate. Our “IN” Salon grew rapidly as well.  Today we have a total of 20 employees who share the Salon and Mobile responsibilities.

Just as we were about to reap some of the rewards financially  (the infamous 5 year point), life threw a curve ball, and I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  I was off work for a year with treatments, but thankfully the staff did an amazing job of keeping things running.  During that time Gracie once again became one of my inspirations. During chemo she would literally lay on top of me- at times it was all I could do to breath or move.  It was uncanny- she was telling me all would be fine, life was great, and this was just a “hiccup”.  She was absolutely right!

Remember I said “Teaching” would be reentering my story……  During my isolation year of treatment, I kept myself busy by creating a proposal for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education…… to open a Grooming School that could facilitate students across Canada who wanted to learn the art of Grooming.  I spent hundreds of hours on the proposal- (a proposal that perhaps would never have been submitted if I hadn’t had this downtime).  In 2012, I became the official founder and instructor of Apex Academy of Professional Grooming & Animal Arts– a school that would work directly with Zoom Zoom Groom and allow students to have intensive hands-on training at a very busy salon.  Gracie once again became an integral part of learning for our students… whether she was used for demonstrations, or as a volunteer for a student groom- she contributed wholeheartedly!

As I walk through our Zoom Zoom Groom building, and I look at our mobiles, and I look at our school, I see Gracie everywhere.  She is Zoom Zoom Groom, she is responsible for what I call our “Beautiful Monster”- she was the inspiration.  I can never thank her enough for all she has provided for me and my family.  She is a “God Given Gift” & blessing.

On June 8, 2016,  we sadly said good-bye to our very special family member.  She is now in a place of peace and no pain, where she can continue to share her beautiful spirit.   The story of “How a Single Poodle Named Gracie, Inspired a Successful Dog Grooming Business Called Zoom Zoom Groom” , displays how one dog enriched the lives of our entire family- touching our hearts in ways unimaginable, and creating a legacy in which we are all eternally thankful for!

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” – Will Rogers

Welcome to our New Websites

October 25, 2017

Have you sniffed something different around here? Or, have you been "feline" the change at Zoom Zoom Groom & PreZoomably Cats: Feline Groomz & Roomz ?

After several months of collaboration & design with the great Heather Pinay and her staff at  Authentically , we have unveiled our New Websites! It's a fresh new look with new logos, colours, and a whole lot of canine, & feline fun!

After several months of collaboration & design with the great Heather Pinay and her staff at Authentically, we have unveiled our New Websites! It's a fresh new look with new logos, colours, and a whole lot of canine, & feline fun!

After several months of collaboration & design with the great Heather Pinay and her staff at Authentically, we have unveiled our New Websites! It's a fresh new look with new logos, colours, and a whole lot of canine, & feline fun!

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You will notice on our websites some new grooming services offered to clients in the Regina, Saskatchewan area:

and promotions:

to better the health of your canine or feline, including a new technology called Thera-clean that is life-changing to canines and felines with skin issues and allergies. I can't tell you how excited I am to see the incredible difference this technology provides!

I love to write so I'm super excited to explore topics about cats, dogs & even being a woman entrepreneur on this space. Please feel free to tell me what you want to read about too! My background is teaching and you know what they say, "Once a teacher, always a teacher" - I'm here to help and inform, and if I don't know the answer, I will explore and find someone who does!

I will be inviting guest speakers to this page to share their experiences and knowledge in the dog and cat world. In fact, one of my first guests will be my son Zane (a journalist extraordinaire) who has a story to tell about his dog Stedman- so stay tuned!!!

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Take a moment to explore our new sites, perhaps bookmark us, and be sure to check back regularly for more information about our services as well events and classes taking place.

If you have any questions about our new site or, indeed, any other matter then please get in touch via our contacts section or email – info@zoomzoomgroom