High Street pet grooming salon which was closed by lockdown days after opening is back

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Julie Duncan
Julie Duncan with customer's dog Islay. Pic: Marc Hindley

Pet groomer Julie Duncan was devastated when, just a few weeks after moving into a new shop on the high street, she was forced to close her doors as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the country.

But today, she’s all smiles and has a full diary of pooches who just can’t wait to get their locks trimmed, and feels really positive about the future of Forres High Street.

Julie moved into 133 High Street in February, after eight years of working from home, fulfilling the dream of taking her business into a fully-fitted, spacious salon for her canine customers.

“I had no idea whatsoever that we were about to go into lockdown,” said Julie.

“I’d seen and heard things happening in other countries, but I really didn’t expect to have to shut down so soon after opening.”

Julie, who has three dogs at home, says she thinks she may not have had to shut at all, due to the confusion about whether her work was deemed essential or not.

“Dog groomers weren’t on the list. I had to go through the canine and feline department of DEFRA, Trading Standards and the Scottish Government.

“All the information was for the UK, but nothing specific to Scotland. There was also confusion initially about whether dogs could carry the virus. I continued to do welfare grooms and vet referrals, maintaining a two-metre distance from owners.”

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Julie moved to Forres from Nairn where she started her career working with dogs 20 years ago at Pampered Pets in Nairn. She trained to be a groomer, but then left to bring up her family, and moved to Forres.

“It was my dad and brother that suggested I start my own business as a groomer. There are no requirements for pet groomers to be qualified, but I had done the training and got the qualifications, and the rent was reasonable, so I thought, why not.”

Julie said she is feeling positive about the future now she is back in the shop full-time.

“Forres has such a lovely high street. It has a great variety of shops compared to other towns. I have more space here to give my customers’ dogs a one-to-one experience. I like to work ‘with’ the dogs not against them, so I do what I call ‘free work’ giving them little puzzles and get to know the dogs. It relaxes them.”

She is also hoping that having a base in the high street will end the cases of mistaken identity she gets with another dog groomer called Julie Duncan in the Wirral.

“I’ve had apoointments booked by people who don’t turn up, and it turns out they were visiting my namesake in Liverpool. I know she has the same problem too, so I suppose it evens itself out, and I can see the funny side of it.

Marc Hindley
Author: Marc Hindley

Marc has worked as journalist and photographer all over Scotland. He also runs a PR and digital marketing agency Canary Dwarf. He has lived in Forres with his wife and three children since 2001.