MAIN LINE - Most weekdays you'll find me inside a small stone building with a fire-engine-red entrance door in the affluent Philadelphia Main Line suburb of Gladwyne. Just outside Cleopetra's Grooming, suds spurt from a small ground space and take flight.
Lehigh Valley Humane Society's Second Annual Garden Party Benefits 'Addie's Fund'
All day long, soapy poufs burble up, then split off like tiny clouds adrift in air. Inside, a trio of aproned women navigates a large room filled with varying sizes and breeds of dogs. Hand dryers roar. Large steel tubs contain hoses that deliver shampoo and water for bathing and rinsing. Squeaky-clean is the wash objective; achieving that goal is a skill-based endeavor, rendering works of art when accurately delivered. Trust me: I know. And that's just the bathing portion of the process. The actual grooming involves razor-sharp scissors wielded with a deft, masterful touch. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you an expert groomer is an artist in the truest sense of the word.
~~ for Lilyaulait Kozden (end of mouse patrol, 7/24/17)
“Of all the special things we choose to do for our planet, let one of them be of service to animals." ~~ Paul Oxton
“People look at you peculiar if you talk about the feeling you got for animals, saying animals have no souls, no sense of good or bad, no value up next to humans," he said. "I don't know about that. Sometimes I think animals are the ones who should be saying such things about us." He shook his head. "Animals can tear your heart out. They can maim you. They can kill you dead on instinct alone and saunter into the next minute like it was nothing. But at least you know the ground rules with animals. You never know with people. Even the good can hurt you bad, and the bad, well, they're going to hurt you but good." He dropped his arm from the window to rub his gnarled hand. "It's why I keep choosing animals.” ~~ Lynda Rutledge
On the daily, the bark goes on. Clients' pets sometimes enter bedraggled with earthen stench but exit smelling fresh and looking photo-shoot ready. The work involved in dog grooming is exceedingly labor-intensive. Daisy, the Golden Retriever doesn't actually jump with joy into a tub. And Peggy, the large Goldendoodle protests mightily before I am able to cajole her onto a groomer's table. Bubba, the black Labrador, had a coat so dense and unctuous that he required assiduous bathing before any shampoo would penetrate his skin. "Tinkles" and "makes" come and are immediately snatched out of sight into plastic blue doggie bags or mop-squeezed into a bucket. It's a dog's life, for certain, and I say that with the immense pride and satisfaction derived from working with passion.
As this article's preamble quote states, I am living and working in the service of animals. I love them all. While I'm paid an hourly wage, I often (and with beatific grin) teasingly ask clients on checkout, "Can you believe I'm actually paid for this?"
But there are other individuals who live "in the service of animals" with much more commitment and selfless devotion than what I've just described. They are on another level altogether. I had the pleasure, on one recent perfect spring day in May, of engaging with these lovely and loving folks at Bell Gate Farm (Coopersburg, Pennsylvania) for the Lehigh Valley Humane Society's Second Annual Garden Party.
Look for more changes and updates to come in 2022 for the Lehigh Valley Humane Society (formerly Lehigh County Humane Society), such as the community veterinary clinic (a first in the Lehigh Valley), upgraded, modernized living areas for the dogs and cats as well as a new look in both the lobby and adoption center. For more information and to follow the exciting progress at LVHS, visit lehighvalleyhumanesociety.org.