Meet Lou Skinner, a dog groomer from Fareham
|Our first guest is Lou Skinner, a dog groomer from Fareham with profound hearing loss, who has a cochlear implant. We caught up with Lou to find out more about a typical day in her life.|
Why and when did you decide to become a dog groomer?
I decided to become a dog groomer because I’ve always wanted to run my own business and I love dogs! The girl who used to groom my spaniel was selling her business and I jumped at the chance. I was unhappy in my previous job and it seemed like the best time to just go for it. That was in February/March last year and I took over at the beginning of April so it has only been going for 10 months so far.
How do you make your way to work in the mornings?
I’m a mobile dog groomer so I don’t have a commute to work as such. I have a van which is fully converted in the back with a bath, grooming table, dryer and water tank. When I get to a customer’s house, I just plug a cable into their electricity supply and every aspect of grooming is done in the van.
Tell us about a typical day.
I travel from dog to dog in my van and can do anything from four to eight dogs each day. Some just need a wash and dry, but others need a good haircut as well as a bath. They all get a blow dry and finish with a lovely smelling dog cologne! Sometimes I’ll have a gap in appointments and will stop for lunch, but mainly I push through so I can get home.
What is the most rewarding part of your day?
The most rewarding part of my day is when an owner tells their dog they look handsome or beautiful when I take them back into their home. It’s also satisfying if I’ve got a challenging dog who lets me groom him/her without being too much of a pickle!
What are the biggest challenges you face each day?
My biggest challenge is meeting new customers and trying to hear them straightaway. I always want to come across as professional so I don’t want to panic about not hearing them. Also, I need to make sure I’ve heard the customer’s grooming request correctly!
Do you have any hearing loss equipment that helps you?
I don’t use any hearing equipment, my cochlear implant is good enough.
Is there anything that could make your job easier?
I don’t think there’s anything that could make my job easier - maybe a bit more volume control for noisy dogs as it can get a little loud in the van sometimes, even for me!
Are your colleagues and customers deaf aware?
I don’t have any colleagues but a lot of my customers are deaf aware. If not, they often ask questions and want to learn more. My implant is a real point of interest for many people.
What is your going home routine?
After the last dog of the day, I drive home, park up, grab my wet towels and pop them in the washing machine. I do a quick clean of the van, then have a shower to get rid of all the hair!
What advice would you give to other people with hearing loss considering a job as a dog groomer?
I thoroughly recommend dog grooming for people with a hearing loss. We are at an advantage with really noisy barking dogs, working alone means I don’t have to struggle to listen to people all the time and you get to have hugs with dogs!
At Action on Hearing Loss we’re committed to helping employees reach their full potential at work. We hope that this series will highlight the positive steps that are already being taken to break down communication barriers and demonstrate how accessibility and inclusivity can be improved for employees with hearing loss.
Want to share a day in your life? Please contact Helen.Swarbrick@hearingloss.org.uk.