If you’re looking to get your dog groomed and give students valuable experience at the same time, look no further than the Beckville ISD ag Department Dog Grooming Program.
The program is part of the school’s small animal management program, which is students’ introduction to their journey in veterinary animal science, teacher Amy Podlewski said.
“Our students will start in this course with hands-on training in working with animals, so they will learn the basics of grooming, bathing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, hair cutting, etc. “, she said. “The main thing is to prepare them to work with live animals and have them properly mastered when they enter the veterinary field because by the time they graduate from high school they should be able to get a Certified Veterinary Assistant certification through our program, so they can become certified.
Podlewski said the only requirement for dog grooming is for the owner to provide proof of rabies vaccination in the form of a certificate to bring to their first appointment. Pricing starts at $5 for a nail clipping and goes up from there.
“Because of the weather, haircuts are really hard to schedule for us. We usually have to do a two-day appointment because they have to do the prep work one day and then the trimming the next. So we can’t really do anything too fancy, but it gives them (students) an idea,” Podlewski said. “Most of what we do is bath, nails and stuff. We have people asking us to do haircuts, as long as they understand they’re high schoolers and it might look a little wonky, but it should be fine.
Freshman Jessie McAfee is looking forward to a career in animals, and because of that, this course has served her well.
“Dog grooming here is something you can’t just learn in a classroom, you learn their behaviors and general behavior and how all animals are different, and it’s just something you have to learn about the heap and not on paper,” she mentioned.
First-year student Aiden Walker stressed the importance of grooming animals properly.
“If you don’t groom a dog properly, it can lead to a violation of the animal’s safety, or it can be seriously injured, or fatal diseases spread from one animal to another (due to tools uncleaned)…After we use our table and finish cutting and grooming, nail clipping, we always do a sanitizer, and wipe it down thoroughly and make sure all our kennels, tubs, tables are pretty much cleaned by different people every week,” he said.
The class helps students interested in the field find out if it’s something they really want to do.
“I came out of the veterinary profession, and when I became a teacher, I felt like it really helped our kids get the hands-on experience they needed,” Podlewski said. “They are a little too young at this age to go to work and do an internship in a veterinary clinic. They usually have to be 16 or older, which allows them to get involved and decide if it’s something they even want to do. A lot of kids think vet school or working with animals is great fun, then here they realize it’s a lot of work. And I’m not trying to scare them, I just want to give them the reality of what it is. So if they are really passionate, they will continue the program and become even more certified and prepared.
The class had led to student success after graduation.
“We actually had a young guy named Hunter Moon, he graduated a few years ago, and thanks to the dog grooming program and the vet program and everything he went through, he actually has now opened his own grooming business here in Beckville, and he basically took what little he learned in my class and took it way beyond that and turned it into a very successful business,” Podlewski said. “So it’s really nice to see a kid come out of here and do something with their experiences.
“I also have another student who just got accepted into vet school, and she was in that program, and she realized that was definitely her passion, and so she’s in College Station. We see kids who have gone through the program using it after school, whether it’s part-time jobs where they do something unrelated to animals, or kids using it in their future career, so it’s great for us.
The grooming will reopen to the public at the start of the Christmas holidays in early January.
“We usually book about two days a week, but we’re flexible if people need it,” Podlewski said. “We usually do two days of grooming and then three days of classes, class work, that sort of thing. Next semester we also have a lot of stock shows and stuff, so our grooming schedule will fill up very quickly. They drop off here at the high school, so if they make an appointment, they can either meet us at the high school office or come back.