Hi, I’m Michele Peterson, a Springfield, VA resident and Owner/Founder of Classy Canines — serving friends and neighbors since 2004, helping them keep their dogs happy, healthy and good looking.
Mobile dog grooming is actually my third career and the one I personally find the most satisfying. After graduating high school in the Boston suburbs, I headed to Johnson and Wales Culinary School in Providence, Rhode Island. I quickly found out that while I love cooking, doing it in a restaurant setting was not as enjoyable. I transferred to Framingham State University and followed another interest – earning a B.A. in English with a minor in technical writing, and embarking on a publishing career. Starting at Test & Measurement World magazine in Newton, Mass., I later headed to the Philippines to teach ESL for a few years. Once back in the states in 1998, I settled in Northern Virginia and took editorial positions with Pro Audio Review and Radio World magazines, where I also met my future husband Alan. We married in 2001.
Life was good but I was restless. Anchored to a desk and computer all day, having to answer to bosses, and being trapped indoors 8:30 to 5:30 every day for 17 years – especially on really nice days – began to chafe. I needed a change, but to what? Lumberjack? Trucker? Ice cream shop owner?
One day in early 2004, during a lunch-hour gym workout, I came across a magazine ad for a company that manufactured mobile pet grooming vans. I had never even heard of “mobile pet grooming,” but was intrigued. I loved dogs my whole life, but the only grooming experience I had was a notoriously bad haircut I once gave Jake – my Goldie/Gordie mix. So for anyone who calls me asking me to fix their dog’s bad home haircut, I definitely sympathize and will not judge you!
I enthusiastically began researching mobile grooming: schools, vans, techniques, tools … you name it. I worked up a business plan, spoke to an area groomer, connected to other groomers in online forums, and finally presented this plan to Alan: I wanted to quit my job (always an attention-getting opener), go to grooming school, buy a decked-out grooming van and open my own business. For a few months, we would be a one-paycheck household and would need to watch the pennies for a while, but it would all be worth it. It seems I was persuasive enough – he said, “Okay, you’ve sold me. Do it!”
First, it was back to school. I enrolled in Canine Clippers School of Pet Grooming in Dumfries, Va., and gave notice at my publishing job. I ordered a custom-built grooming van from the company in Indiana which ran the magazine ad that inspired me. After a four and a half month fulltime course in grooming and grooming business practices, I launched Classy Canines Mobile Grooming. I found I had a real knack for both the grooming and the related tasks.
More than a decade later, I enjoy spending my time with so many sweet dogs, learning about my clients’ lives and interests, and being the “Go To” person for everyone’s pets’ needs. I have learned which vets in the area are the best, what tools are best suited for maintaining your dog’s coat between grooms, and spotting issues of concern that a vet should look at: those small lumps owners were unaware of that brought early cancer detection and a good prognosis, those ear infections caught early enough for proper treatment … Grooming is not just an aesthetic concern, it keeps your dog healthy.
I even got husband Alan involved! He’s my mechanic, electrician and plumber, fixing anything I manage to break in the van, changing my oil in the generator and coming up with workaround solutions to various issues I encounter along the way. He has had a great deal to do with the success of Classy Canines over the years.
After more than a decade and a half of being Classy Canines I am quite certain that this is the job that will carry to me to retirement!!