Ibiza winter: Dressed to the Canines – Mobile grooming for pampered pooches

Ibiza and animal lovers go hand in hand, with the island’s gorgeous countryside and coastline making it the ideal location to live with a pet in the great outdoors. Having had had a strong connection to the white isle since she was young, Ibiza was calling experienced dog groomer Victoria Taylor when she was looking to return to life in Europe after five years spent living and pampering pooches in Australia. In August 2017, she crossed continents and – to the delight of local dog owners – successfully launched her luxury mobile pet grooming service Dressed to the Canines in Ibiza.

Although she’d grown up surrounded by all types of animals, a career as a dog groomer wasn’t originally on the cards for Victoria, who started out working in the music industry. When travelling to music festivals, she would make vibrant, sparkling leggings and leotards for herself and her friends and it was a chance encounter with a family friend whose insight identified a connection between Victoria’s creative instincts and her background with animals that pushed her in the direction of the dog grooming industry in 2013.

“My mum is a dog trainer, and so I’ve always had a broad knowledge of animals. I understand a dog’s body language from a mile off,” Victoria explains. “While I was visiting my mum in England, her best friend (a dog groomer) saw my festival clothes and suggested I start a business. I wasn’t passionate enough about it – I just did it for fun – and then she suggested I try dog grooming to use my creativity in another way. And something instantly clicked.” Any initial apprehension she felt (“I was a bit worried as I’d given a friend a very bad haircut at school once!” Victoria laughs at the memory) melted away as soon as she stepped into the salon, where her hands-on, on-the-job training began.

Once she was fully qualified, Victoria set up Dressed to the Canines in Australia, where she went on to win awards and be featured in the press for her exceptional services. The rest, as they say is history, and after five successful years in Australia, Victoria and her trusted assistant Gary (a rescue Jack Russell cross) relocated to Ibiza, bringing their large customised grooming van with them, where there was a much-needed gap in the market for them to fill. Arriving to the island on August 1, 2017, her first clients were booked in on August 2, and it has been non-stop for Dressed to the Canines ever since.

Today, Dressed to the Canines offers a variety of services to pet owners in Ibiza all year round, with the most popular being mobile dog grooming. After consulting with the dog’s owners on the type of groom required (from breed-specific cuts or full shaves to de-sheds for those extra fluffy companions), Victoria then takes her ‘clients’ to her van for the full beautifying experience. Two washes (think lather, rinse, repeat!) are followed by a conditioning treatment and all products used are natural and organic where possible, paraben-free – with special options such as calming, vegan or soap-free products available. Afterwards, dogs are dried, clipped and styled and sent back to their owners with either a bow tie or bandana plus a spritz of luxury doggie cologne. Add-ons such as blueberry and oatmeal brightening facials, ultra-sonic and non-invasive teeth cleaning, ear mite treatments and nail clipping are also on offer.

For Victoria, it’s all about creating an experience that is enjoyable for your dog. Her own energy is relaxed and happy and her love for her job is evident with every stroke of the brush, clip of the toenails and lather of shampoo. “I pride myself on offering a really fun, relaxed environment for your dog,” she says. “If I’m pressured or stressed, the dog will feed off that energy and this is why I will never overbook myself. I want your dogs to come running up to the van and be excited to see me the next time they are booked for a groom!”

While 90-percent of her pampered pooches are always happy to see her, the fact remains not all dogs are relaxed with strangers and Victoria’s training, natural affinity with animals and infinite patience allows her to build up a rapport with your pet. “With a nervous dog, it’s really important that the owners are confident with me first,” she says. “We can sit and have a chat and a cup of tea and then when the dog sees its owner is at ease with me, there’s less pressure. If they’re still really nervous, I can take them for a walk first… and this is the great thing about having a mobile service. Your pet isn’t stuck in a cage at a salon, or next to other animals while he’s waiting for his turn at the dryer. It’s so relaxed, he’s in his own home, I can take my time – if I feel we need a break, we can take a break. There’s no pressure.”

Victoria is also trained in TTouch, a progressive method of animal training that uses different light massage techniques to teach the nervous system certain sensations, bring anxiety levels down and help any injuries, and she uses this to help calm animals during each groom. Prior to the initial wash, Victoria also does a general health check of the animal’s body and skin to ensure there are no lumps or bumps that need to be avoided during the groom or teeth clean. “If we do ever find any unexpected lumps or growths anywhere that hadn’t previously been spotted, I make sure the dog is sent to the vet for a check-up,” she says.

With everything she needs for the full service in her van – from a bathtub, her own water, a dryer, grooming table and all her products – all Victoria needs to get started is access to a power point. “And a dog!” she points out. The best thing an owner can do at this stage is trust her to do her job, as their presence in the van can often be a distraction to the pet. Victoria likens the experience to parents calling out to their children over the school fence. “Where would you rather be, home or school? Of course, they’ll automatically want to come home but if they’re left in the playground, they’ll have a good time and make friends.” Speaking of new friends, Gary travels everywhere with Victoria and is always happy to step up on the grooming table to show his new mates that it’s absolutely nothing to worry about.

All dogs, all sizes and all breeds (even cats) can be treated to the Dressed to the Canines service, with an average groom taking up to 90 minutes per animal. Victoria recommends grooming no more than every two weeks, in order to maintain the natural oils on a dog’s skin, while cuts and de-sheds should be scheduled between four and 12 week intervals, depending on the dog. “It’s really important to book in for a cut before any matting starts. Once the hair is matted, it pulls on the dog’s skin and we can’t de-matt it. It’s like trying to de-matt dreadlocks,” she says. “I would never put a dog through that – when it’s matted, it’s uncomfortable and there’s no going back. They need to be shaved off, and then we maintain it after that. Sanity before vanity, I say!”

Sharing her knowledge of animal welfare and care with owners is all part of Victoria’s ethos. “Owners always want what’s best for their pet,” she says. “But in some cases, they may be requesting something because they don’t know better. For example, a double-coated breed should never be shaved in summer as their coats regulate their temperature, but owners just see so much hair and their automatic thought is to cool them down. So, it’s important for me to be able to speak to them in a friendly way and find the right way to educate them on the correct way of doing things, without making anyone feel bad for suggesting the wrong thing.” From advising on animal nutrition, natural health remedies, techniques to maintain nails between grooms and teaching her clients to clean their own pet’s teeth, she is only too happy to help. “I go to bed feeling good if I know I’ve helped an owner realise something that will be beneficial for their pet.”

“Part of loving your pet is having the best for them,” Victoria says. “They’re a family member and you want them to have a long, full and happy life.” She admits she has a tendency to get attached to her clients’ pets, and is grateful that the nature of her job is recurring so she can spend more time with her new four-legged friends. “I love that I get to meet different dogs all the time, and also like-minded people. Your vibe attracts your tribe.” With this in mind, she often arranges ‘doggy meet ups’ and group walks to encourage socialising between Ibiza pets and their multi-cultural owners.

Victoria also offers a one-to-one pet sitting service plus pet feeding services (she is also adept at administering pet medication when needed) in Ibiza, and in addition to her day-to-day grooming work, she volunteers for island-based horse sanctuary Can Mayol, hosts annual fundraising events and dog shows to raise money for animal rescue shelters, including Can Hog hedgehog rehabilitation home, Care 4 Cats and the Goa Animal Rescue Centre among others. A full-day TTouch workshop is scheduled for March 31, 2018 for those pet owners looking to enhance their own animal handling skills and news of all upcoming events and meet-ups can be found on the Dressed to the Canines Facebook page.

Last, but definitely not least, Victoria encourages all pet owners to get ID tags for their animals and designs a range of 100% silver tags that can be engraved with your contact details. “Dogs do go wandering,” Victoria says knowingly, naming Gary as her number one culprit when he hears something exciting off in the distance. “Unfortunately, microchips aren’t always picked up and your pet can get lost in the system in Can Dog in Ibiza, so it’s worth having that extra insurance to make sure they always make their way home safely to you.” Each of the tags is embellished with a crystal that boasts unique healing properties, so your pet can feel as good as it looks!

Photography by Natalie Beth Harris