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A Goldsmith's Workshp
A Goldsmith's Workshop by Alessandro Fei (1543-92)
Scala/Art Resource, New York. All Rights Reserved inclusive.

Look closely and you will find two well-groomed pets.
Over 400 years ago pet owners were taking care of their pets.

The Heritage of Pet Grooming

by Madeline Bright Ogle
Excerpt Chapter 1, "The Heritage of Pet Grooming"
Book: From Problems to Profits

Copyright 1989, 1997 Madeline Bright Ogle, All Rights Reserved
Published here with the permission of the author.

Many reference materials attest to man's fondness of pets, but no books trace the origins of pet grooming. However, there are occasional references that shed light on the art of pet grooming. Ferdinand Mery, authored The Dog (London, 1970). In it, he established that dogs were first perceived as useful to man as early as 4240 B.C. Mery mentions unusual religious totems with dogs depicted in their sculpture. As centuries passed the dog eventually became commonly accepted as a pet, and is now considered "man's best friend."

In past centuries, pets have lived comfortably in the castles of Kings and Queens. They have served as working dogs in the marketplace and traveled with entertainment groups. Art from the fourteenth through eighteenth century depicts small dogs and cats near the footstools of ladies of the Court. In other paintings small pets sit with their masters on lounges and chairs. Another shows a young man standing next to his spaniel. Frequently, the images depict larger breeds sitting on the floor next to their masters.

The Elizabethan era reveals some the earliest historical evidence of pet grooming activity. While the method of grooming is unclear, the pets are clean and well-groomed. Perhaps groomers in the marketplace cleaned them. One such grooming lithograph shows a dog being sheared while sitting on a lady's lap. Women shearing dogs is also the subject of etchings.

In 17th century France, the poodle was the official dog at court. The era of King Louis XV of France reveals the first official records of dog grooming parlors. Rare books of the 19th century mention dog grooming in Europe. The Book of the Dog (Vero Shaw, 1879) refers to the existence of dog grooming in England. Specific grooming recommendations such as washing, grooming, and coat conditioning occur in Ashmont's Kennel Secrets, (Boston, 1893). Pet groomers have a historical record of which they can be proud.

Over the years, attitudes have been changing toward many animals. Animals that provided carriage for thousands of years, such as horses, mules, and camels, are now replaced by advanced developments in transportation. Many of these animals have different uses presently and maintain a special relationship with man. However, none are move beloved as pets than dogs and cats. And what man loves, he care for and protects.

I hope you appreciate and admire, our heritage as groomers. You've chosen a field whose history shows it as both an occupation and an art. Similarly, the practice of medicine provides a necessary function for man's existence, yet the practice of medicine is an art. Unless you know the history of your profession and the revolutions taking place in your field, you are unlikely to succeed. Too many of today's pet grooming salons are as outmoded as a horse replaced by an automobile.

Continued on next page.



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