2 April 2024

Model students prepare to show off their creative canines in front of grooming royalty

| Jen White
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Two women with a model of a dog.

Yallah TAFE student Laura Dekker (left) and teacher Bonnie Harrison, with Laura’s Queen Bee creation to be judged at the Royal Easter Show. Photos: Jen White.

When you walk into this Yallah classroom you’re surrounded by dogs of all descriptions. There’s one with blue hair, one with yellow spikes and another with a coffee cup on its head. To the side, one’s having a bad hair day and in the centre of the room sits a regal queen.

They are all model pooches – well, model pooch heads at least, and they have a very special date at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Tuesday (2 April).

TAFE NSW Yallah teacher and well known pet groomer Bonnie Harrison is overseeing her eight Certificate III in Pet Grooming students as they prepare to compete in an exclusive “model dog” category at the show, just for them.

Bonnie’s organised for their creations to be vetted by master groomers from New Zealand and Italy as well as Australia, who will award first, second and third place winners.

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“There’s more to grooming than just clipping,” she said. “This is a good way to introduce them to the industry, get a taste of the competitive side and the creative side of grooming.”

Bonnie and the students are thrilled to be working in Yallah’s new specialist pet grooming facility, which features hydrobaths and electric lifts.

On workshop days, clients bring their animals in for free grooming by the students, who are assessed on their work.

Yallah and Ultimo TAFEs are the only centres which offer the hands-on year-long Certificate III course. Intakes are twice a year and enrolments are now open for the July intake.

The course covers basic bathing, drying, clipping, ear cleaning and breed-specific grooming.

“We get into a little bit of Asian fusion styling, basic pet trims and de-sheds so that when they leave here, they’ve got the knowledge and the skill to be able to execute it,” Bonnie said.

Bonnie, who runs her own pet grooming salon in addition to teaching, said greater pet numbers had resulted in surging demand for pet groomers.

“The industry is booming and there literally are not enough pet groomers in the Illawarra to keep up with demand,” she said.

“As soon as you get that certificate, you can open your own salon or mobile grooming business, or work for a salon.

“There’s so much flexibility in your own grooming business and you can work at your own pace.

“If you love animals, you can’t get a better career.”

Student Laura Dekker definitely qualifies as an animal lover, owning seven dogs, two cats and birds.

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Laura’s background is in manufacturing and she has tried her hand in a few other fields, but her love of animals and desire to open a grooming business led her to TAFE.

“I’d like to open my own business one day and be able to pass it on to my daughter who really loves to do grooming as well,” she said.

“I really enjoy making the dogs feel nice and look nice; some of them might have had a rough start, dogs that don’t always get looked after properly so it’s nice to make them feel good.”

Laura’s creation for the show competition is Queen Bee, complete with a crown on top, ears in the shape of a bee, and tiny bees and flowers to reflect the spring feel of Easter.

“This is a great way for students to hone and benchmark their skills, but it’s also a powerful networking event,” Bonnie said of the competition.

“In previous years, our students have received job offers from salon owners while competing at the show.”

For more information on the certificate course, or the free workshop days, email Bonnie at [email protected].

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