BBC 1’s Pooch Perfect has taken the nation by storm.

The dog grooming fiesta, which airs every Thursday is the perfect happy antidote to the current lockdown gloom. And it is also a huge boost for the dog grooming industry, together with the surge in labradoodle and cockapoo ownership during 2020, breeds that will become unwell if they don’t receive a regular groom.

Many people have also lost their jobs, or their jobs have changed beyond recognition during the pandemic, and accrediting organisation iPET Network, an Ofqual regulated body which oversees the training of hundreds of new groomers every year, has already seen an influx of people wanting to qualify.

A further surge in demand is expected as a result of the latest lockdown, and of course the Pooch Perfect show. Here at Bone Idol we were so proud to all sit down on one such Thursday and watch our very own Helen Kirby appear on the show. What a complete star, and she did us, and the wonderful city of Brighton proud!

At Bone Idol we aren’t just a training provider, we have the shop, parlour and of course our own cold press dog food rang Nora Nose Best https://boneidol.co.uk/pages/cold-pressed-dog-food, But the academy really is a jewel in the crown for us, as it enables us to make a positive impact on the industry at large.

So, for our column today we have put together some brilliant case studies from our students, explaining why becoming a dog groomer, and being qualified to practice, is so important. To find out more about the academy go to https://boneidol.co.uk/pages/bone-idol-training-academy and once again we would like to thank everyone who has shown us, and the independent businesses in Brighton such unwavering support during the pandemic, we love you all.

Helen Kirby is Bone Idol’s academy director and tutor, she has worked for Bone Idol since 2016. Explaining why she wanted to become a groomer Helen said: “I have always had a good work ethic and enjoy working towards something! As a teenager I had a combination of 3 jobs!  “A paper round, washing hair in a salon and a sales assistant on the shoe collection in Debenhams. I then went onto work in customer service office work in my early 20s.

“As a child I had always dreamed of being a vet but found it hard to focus on anything academic in school and was drawn towards creative and musical subjects.
I went on to study vocals at Brighton Institute of Modern Music even though I still wanted to find work with animals.

“I didn’t feel challenged or interested by office work in general, I was such a day dreamer and just wanted to have a practical job with animals as I feel so happy when I’m around them. I felt so deflated and thought that I had missed my chance to work with animals. It was really a moment in time where I just decided it is never too late to make a change and just went for it. I feel so lucky to have a job that does not feel like work. I never wake up and dread going to work anymore. I get to hang out with dogs all day and be around people who love dogs! I’ve never been happier!

“I’m so excited to be in an industry which is forever evolving and in which I will never stop learning or developing my career!”

Francesca Thomas, 29 from Brighton is studying for the iPET Network Level Three qualification in Dog Grooming and Introduction to Styling. Francesca has had a tricky 2020, after her work as cabin crew for an airline was put into turmoil by the coronavirus pandemic. But she is now looking forward to a bright new future as a dog groomer, and the sky really is the limit!


She said: “I’m currently cabin crew and the industry is a bit of an uncertain place to be at the moment. 2020 was a horrible year for a lot of people, but it has really pushed me to spend my time wisely, find my passion and train for a new career.

I’ve been with the airline for eight years, and I am really comfortable in my position as Cabin Manager. I feel that this situation has made me take the plunge and try something different that I have always dreamed of doing. When the pandemic hit it was really weird at first because no one knew what was happening. We didn’t know the gravity of the situation! Then it became serious, we had the lockdown and all flights were cancelled, it all got very real quite quickly.

“There were lots of voluntary redundancies and people took part-time positions to save as many jobs as possible. It was not a nice time to work for an airline however, I feel lucky to work for a great company that really looks after its staff. “All airlines have been hit so hard by something that nobody saw coming, and the whole industry is struggling. You would never think that these companies would struggle, you always think they will be around.

“I grew up with Welsh Terriers. When I moved into my own place three years ago and was in the position to, I got my own dog! I brought home Luna the Working Cocker Spaniel last December. “When I was a child I wanted to work with animals and become veterinary nurse. Then you finish school, college and university and life takes over! I never thought working with animals would be my career as an adult but it was always a dream.

“With the pandemic you suddenly have so much time to really think ‘what am I doing with my life?’ Being with Luna at home and spending a lot of time training her, made me think ‘why I am doing anything other than spending all my time with dogs?'”

She added: “I really enjoying learning again, using my brain and acquiring new skills. Airlines require refresher training and exams each year, but just learning something new has been so refreshing.  I’ve even enjoyed the course work. I didn’t think I would be the best at that, and motivating myself to do it, but I have loved just sitting down and studying again.”

Katie Brown left her job in insurance to study with Bone Idol for her iPET Network Level 3 Certificate in Dog Grooming and Introduction to Styling. Here she explains what made her decide to become a dog groomer, and why she is enjoying the course so much. Katie explains what she enjoys most about learning the skills needed to work in the industry, and why getting qualified is so important.

She said: “I love the creative side of it, and learning all the techniques and different cuts, I find that really interesting. “You definitely need to be qualified in dog grooming because it is really difficult! I’ve had dogs all my life but grooming is totally different from that. You think you are quite capable of handling a dog, but it’s totally different when you are grooming, and making sure that they are calm and happy, as well as that you are doing a good job.

“All of the dogs that I have groomed so far have been absolute angels, but I’m sure they won’t all be in my career. There is a real skill that you need to do it. “A usual day for me is to either have two dogs to groom, one in the morning and one in the afternoon or have one dog and a theory lesson.

“When grooming the dogs, the teacher lets us know what type of groom we will be doing and then we start with a health check and are supervised while completing the groom. “The teachers give us direction, tips and pointers all the time, but I also love the feeling that I am being allowed to actually do it.

“The theory lessons consist of many different topics including diseases, first aid, dog breeds and coat types etc. The lessons are taught in a classroom setting and there are pre prepared print outs to assist with learning.  “The facilities are brilliant, it’s a big space and the grooms take place down stairs while the classroom is upstairs. All equipment is a very high spec and it’s thoroughly cleaned and well maintained.”

And finally Jessie Brown, 22 from Northern Ireland who is studying at the Academy for her iPET Network Level Three qualification in Grooming and Salon Management. A former Army dog handler,  Jessy had to give up her dream career and be medically discharged due to an illness. But is now looking forward to living a new dream by becoming a dog groomer.

She said: “I’ve always worked with animals, before I was in the Army I used to work at animal shelters and things like that, I’ve always been around dogs, and love going into work and being with the dogs all day. That’s why I think I’ve chosen grooming as my next career option, it’s a natural transition, and I won’t miss the canine company I’ve enjoyed so much.

“I am still employed by the Army at the moment and the course is flexible so I can study alongside any appointments or admin that I need to do to prepare me for leaving the forces. “I had researched other courses, but a lot of them stipulated that you had to do their introductory course, pay for that do that and then go one day a week for an entire year.

“I wanted to just do as much as I could as soon as I could. When I found Bone Idol I emailed Helen and she was so informative and helpful with everything and gave me loads of information. It just seemed like the best fit for me. “Before I started the course in my head I thought it was going to be loads and loads of classroom work, and then a little bit of grooming here and there. But it has been so hands on and it’s amazing. You are literally grooming dogs all day every day! You do have theory lessons, but they really make it as interesting. It has been brilliant.”

To find out more about the Bone Idol Academy courses go to https://boneidol.co.uk/pages/bone-idol-training-academy

To find out why iPET Network training is so important for kickstarting your animal services career visit www.ipetnetwork.co.uk