After late start, Park City pet groomer finds her passion
June 5, 2015
Leigh Chole remembers vividly. As a child in Montreal, she would beg her parents to let her get a dog — an Old English sheepdog, to be specific.
But they never relented.
It wasn’t until she moved out of her childhood home that her wish was finally realized. She got an Alaskan malamute when she was 20, a decision, as it turned out, that changed her future. It led to her discovering she wanted to work with animals for a career.
"I wish I’d grown up with dogs because I might have started doing this a lot sooner," said Chole, a pet groomer who owns Park City Pet Salon, 1725 Sidewinder Drive. "I went to school for fashion design, but I really just did not enjoy it. I needed to find my passion. I was like, ‘What could I possibly do?’ I liked to be creative and artistic and I had a love for dogs. So it all came together."
Chole, who had come to Park City for her career, quit her job in ski fashion design. She took a position with a pet groomer in town, where she learned the craft for six years.
"I just fell in love with it," she said. "It was pretty difficult, though. You have to learn how to handle the animals and how to make them look good. But I’m artsy, so it came a little easier to me, I think."
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She set out on her own and opened her salon just more than a decade ago. She said Park City was the perfect place to put down roots because of the affection many in town have for their pets.
"It’s awesome because people love their dogs and take care of them," she said. "Business is pretty busy just because there are a lot of dogs in town and people love to make them look good."
Chole said she specializes in getting animals finished fast, often within one hour.
"I know people don’t like to leave their pets very long," she said. "I don’t keep them all day."
While Chole enjoys grooming the animals — she offers services for both dogs and cats — she also likes getting to know their owners. She said some of her customers have been coming to her for more than a decade.
"I love getting to know them and their animals," she said. "I just feel like I’m great friends with them all. With the regular clients, it’s like I can talk to them about anything and everything."
However, she does occasionally lose clients when their pets die. She said that is one of the only downsides of the job.
"A lot of people replace their pets but some do not," she said. "And that’s very sad for me because I never see them again. Maybe I run into them somewhere, but some of my favorite clients have left because their dogs have gone."
Another difficulty of the job is managing the busy stretches and downturns. While business is generally good, she often finds herself either swamped or wishing for more clients.
"This place is so seasonal that you go through real slow times and real busy times," she said, adding that late spring is her busiest time of year because it is when many dogs shed. "It’s never a happy medium. I’d like it to be more consistent. Maybe as people are building new houses and the area grows, it will be. I hope so."