It’s after 5 p.m., and it’s dark outside. In the salon, formerly a garage, several people are waiting with their babies, oops, I mean their pets, in their arms…. “Hi, I’m the journalist that called,” I introduce myself. Anitée looks at me with a tired, “not today” expression, and it almost was “not today,” but I used my charms, my “plan B” face,” and it worked.
Her arms are all scratched up. Evidently, her job is not easy. Washing a dog is not as difficult as drying it. Often the noise of the dryer scares the animals and they want to jump off the table. That moment and cutting their nails are the most complicated. I was attacked by a SharPei, one of those cute, wrinkly dogs that have a very bad temper. It bit my arm and hands. It was my fault because I didn’t adjust its leash correctly, I didn’t hold it in place.
She and her two colleagues spent several days working on a dog show, and today their establishment is full of customers. A complete service that includes wash and dry, ear cleaning, teeth cleaning, and hair cutting, for a short-haired dog such as a Labrador can take up to an hour. But a long-haired dog (a Bichón Habanero or Yorkshire) can take two to two and a half hours. We’ve attended to as many as 15 pets in a day’s work here, between the three of us. It’s much more difficult to work with a cat. Generally people bring in long-haired cats, which have gentler natures, but cats are definitely the most difficult. You give dogs an order and they accept it, but not cats. With cats, the more you try to take charge, the more they resist. In these cases, you half to stop, talk to them affectionately, and lose a half hour of work.
It is a labor of patience and love. People who take their pets to the salon do it as though they were taking a relative. When their pet is beautified, it’s a real event, like when a girl celebrates her sweet sixteen. I had to learn a lot of details in this profession to achieve quality work. Every breed has its specific haircut, and you have to master every one. You start on one side of the animal and then you do the same thing on the other side; the challenge when you have a restless pet is to make sure that both sides end up the same. It’s easier to handle a large dog than a small one. You can take a louder tone with a large dog and get a better hold of him, but the little ones are always more restless and you have to be careful when you hold them because they’re more fragile, and you can hurt them.
She studied veterinary medicine at the Agrarian University of Havana and graduated in 2007. This job has complemented my profession. In fact, once in a while I take cases here at the salon. I started out in this occupation without knowing anything about haircutting, and I’m still learning a year later. There are a lot of things I need to improve. Some breeds are very difficult for me to work with, such as schnauzers, cockers and exhibition poodles, which are even difficult for the experts. Learning to be an animal stylist is difficult. You have to invest a lot of effort and interest, and study a lot.
She’s pretty and nice, so I come right out and ask if she has a boyfriend.Yes, and he really understands my job; his job is also related to certain types of animals: he works in the restaurant business.