To us, grooming is more than a bath’n’fluff and a nice haircut. Being caretakers of our furry friends, we owe it to them to know and do better when it comes to our approach and interaction with those in our care, and committing by heart each day we step foot into the grooming studio.
Meet Rajeswari Vikiraman, known as Rajes (pronounced ra-jays) who's our Pet Grooming Specialist and also a strong voice for our animal friends! Known for her keen attunement with animals and her calm, reassuring demeanour, animals often find comfort in her presence.
Share with us values you keep close to your heart when it comes to working with animals?
Patience would have to be the first. The animals have varying personalities and most if not all of them really don't see grooming as a nice Mani/Pedi session where they can just chill and get pampered, all they probably want to do is just exit through the front door. So some of them are bound to behave in ways that will test the very limits of our patience.
Although I don't do scissor work for the face (which I think is the procedure that requires an abundance of zen), there are animals coming in terrified of water, having their paws touched, having their ears cleaned etc, so I do get several opportunities to exercise this (and I'm not complaining. Yet 😅)
It is still a work in progress for me to actively keep in mind this value not only during grooming but also when I'm with the animals I care for at home (although I think I am better at it with animals than I am with humans 😎).
One thing that helps me to keep myself in check (besides the amazing environment I work in) is the idea of respect, because just like us, animals deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, because why not right 😁
"One thing that helps me to keep myself in check is the idea of respect, because just like us, animals deserve to be treated with kindness and respect."
A favourite and most memorable grooming moment?
This happened quite recently. We had a doggy come in with a history of not liking his nails done. Although initially he was good with us and not reactive with nails when someone gave him a good head massage, very soon he started telling us he didn't want his paws being touched. To get the procedure done safely we decided to have the cone on him. However this only made things worse for him. Figuring that the cone was only aggravating him further and trying to work on him limited use of the cone felt like an achievement unlocked. He is still touchy with his nails, but think we are making good progress with him. I remember this particularly because his guardian mentioned that she feared he would be rejected for grooming again, so I feel particularly for this doggo and hope we can gain his trust soon.
Grooming aside, you’re passionate about making things right for animals. Being in the education team, what is something close to your heart that look forward to sharing with others about through your work?
I had this question thrown at me once and I hope anyone who makes it to this point would constantly ask themselves when making decisions, "Am I okay with supporting this?".
While doing right by animals would sometimes not be the easiest of things to do - like when deciding to have an animal live with us and choosing the convenient option of buying an animal instead of adopting one from the shelter - I guarantee you that it will be a fulfilling experience when you put in that extra effort to make an animal's life better. (In this particular case that would be making the lives of more than 2 animals better - the life of the shelter dog you have adopted and possibly the lives of many breeding dogs living in abhorrent conditions, because when the buying stops the breeding stops 🤗)
"While doing right by animals would sometimes not be the easiest of things to do... I guarantee you that it will be a fulfilling experience when you put in that extra effort to make an animal's life better."
What's your secret power?
I bake doggo approved cookies and cakes under Paws Up Bakes. The dogs at home go gaga over it. (Because it's all sugar free and made with human ingredients, I once offered it to my 2 year old niece. Happy to say she endorsed me too 💃🏾)
Tell us two truths and a lie
a. I used to be terrified of both dogs and cats. I disliked the touch of their fur and their saliva.
b. My middle name is cookie monster. I am very capable and efficient when it comes to clearing the pantry of vegan snacks.
c. I can speak fluent Cantonese, ready to speak with anyone who wants to test my skills.
Did you spot the lie? :p