Professional Pet  Grooming 

About the Owner 

Internationally Recognized, Award Winning Master Stylist

Tracy Spokes

How I Got Started

At age 15, I decided this seemed like a logical career choice: I loved dogs and I didn't want to go to University. So I picked a grooming school, and started saving while I spent the next 3 years finishing high-school. When I FINALLY got to go to grooming school, I had so much built up anticipation, that school was unfortunately quite disappointing. I thought I would walk out of there knowing all there is to know about every breed out there! Turns out grooming school just hands you the basics then tosses you out into the real world to figure the rest out on your own.  And the truth about dog grooming is that you can stay "basic" (and many do), or you can excel and Master the Craft.  (But few do)

My Journey As A Dog Groomer 

I was top of my grooming class and feeling overly confident.  After grooming school, my sister convinced me to come stay with her and start my adult life in Prince George.  I put out resumes to every shop in town, and got hired by a lady who was nearing retirement.  She was excited for the young blood but I didn't feel it was a good fit and I soon took another offer at a corporate store that offered me the world.

Well that was a rude awakening.  My superior was a rough, gruff lady who only got into grooming because she "needed the money" and she didn't really have much wisdom to offer me.  I was tossed into the deep end and told to swim... I sunk a few times: How about that time I shaved the Collie cause I thought it was matted, but it turned out it was just blowing it's coat.  They didn't teach that in grooming school, but seeing how the coat came flying out after the bath, and getting yelled at by the owner sure did.  Or that time I shaved the matts off a Newfie with a surgical blade cause no one ever told me about coat saving techniques or how to save hair.  That poor guy got a razor rash, required cream and while it quickly healed, my heart hurt for a while.

Oh and I also was told "If you want to work here, you have to groom cats."  No lessons.  No expert advice, just "Here's a cat.  Groom it" 

But then I found opportunity 

I got offered a job at a shop located at a Vet/pet and tack store, where there were a couple of skilled groomers.  There I also got introduced into the dog show world, I purchased my first show poodle, I learned all I could from them and subscribed to Groomer to Groomer magazine, which always had articles on the latest tools and tricks of the trade.  

I grew as a groomer and developed excellent handling skills and safety practices, and learned a ton about Canine and Feline health from the vet staff.   

I spent much of my free time online, learning everything i could on grooming, and after I got my second poodle, I entered my first Grooming Competition. 

I Thought I Was So Good!

I won my first competition as a novice competitor.  I won the class and got Best in Show.  Clearly I was a grooming prodigy!  I entered another competition as an open competitor (cause that's what I thought I had to do) with my poodle and again won my class and won best in show, but i didn't place at all with my Brittany Spaniel and I was very insulted.  But what i didn't know was that, those were just teeny little competitions and there was a much larger competition world out there.  A couple competitions later I soon got another reality check: I really didn't know as much as I thought I did and now that I was competing against the big wigs and competition grooming in Canada was becoming more popular, I got humble REALLY fast.   

Competing Has Helped Me In The Pet Salon

Everything I learned through competing came back to the pet salon, and my shop dogs improved too.  I now had better understanding of grooming products, styling techniques, and bone and muscle structure than the average pet groomer.  The skills and knowledge I developed allowed me to provide my clients, canine and human alike, with better service.  

Through research and a lot of trial and error, I became a well sought out groomer for purebreds and mixes alike.  I was well known for my Poodle grooming in Prince George, and I was famous for my Airedale Grooming, Doodle Grooming, and De-Shedding, among many other things, In Edmonton.

I even developed my own de-shedding techniques, and cat grooming techniques, and later found out that the top cat groomers actually groom them that way too.  

Groom Team Canada

Canadian Competitive Groomers wanted a points system so we could fairly decide who gets to be on Groom Team Canada. The first year we developed and used the point system was a bit chaotic, but I was determined to push past where I was, and advance my skills in the Competition ring. 

As a single mother, I could only get out to about 4 Competitions a year, but I did well at most of those and landed myself a position on the first ever, points based appointed Groom Team Canada.

That was an experience I will never forget.  We flew with our dogs to Belgium.  We Competed against 20 other countries, and while we didn't win, we bonded and connected in a way that none of us every dreamed possible.  And not just with each other: we bonded even deeper with our love of dogs and dog grooming.   

After That The Competition Became Fierce 

Canadian talent came pouring out, after we broke ground with the point system, and the best of the best were out competing full force as they tried to get as many points as possible so they could have the opportunity to compete for our Country too.  Since I could only make it to a max of 4 shows anyway, at the time, I didn't stand a chance of making the team the next round. Other groomers were often at a show every 4-6 weeks, so I decided to back off for a while.  I had other things I wanted to focus on anyway.  

I was tired of being a single mom and trying to balance raising special needs kids, housework, running a business, competing, social life, etc., and not really feeling like I was getting anywhere, so I put some focus into finding love.  

I Found It

 Many groomers tend to be better with dogs than with people: lets face it... there's a reason we wanted to work with animals in the first place, and I am no exception.  I have mild Tourettes and I seem to fit into the mildy Autistic category... basically I'm quirky, and awkward.  I've had to work pretty hard just to interact with clients as well as I do (and I'm sure I have lost some clients in the past because I come across as odd sometimes).

But I found someone as quirky as I am, who loves and cares about me, and supports my obsessive compulsive dog grooming.  The problem was that I lived in Edmonton and he lived in Grande Prairie.  After dating for over a year, it was time for a change.  I took a chance, and sold my little salon in Edmonton and bought a fixer-upper shop in Grande Prairie.  

So What Does the Future Hold for Tracy?

I want to continue to share my skills and knowledge with my clients and my staff, here in GP so I can grow the business into my dream salon and offer the best grooming care available.  

Now that the kids are getting older and I have the loving support of my spouse, I plan on getting back into the competition ring once the business is stable enough to support that.  

I also plan on supporting the grooming industry as a whole, by eventually writing a book or two, and/or developing courses so others don't have to "learn the hard way" as I did, and more and more grooming shops can provide the quality service their clients and the dogs deserve.  

But for now, I just want to groom your dog.  :)