What up, dog?

Carol Hill

Photo By Jason Cassidy

Follow the paw prints painted on the sidewalk between a couple of nondescript offices of the old Fairview Center strip mall on East Avenue and you’ll find one of Chico’s oldest businesses. Carol’s Dog Grooming has been cutting the hair of Chico’s dogs “since 1961,” and owner Carol Hill has been top groomer for all 45 years of her business. She’s open only three days a week (Tues.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.), so if you’re not already a client you’ll need to wait in line. But, thanks to her state-licensed vocational training school on the premises, there are always trainees to help meet the demands.

Have you been at this location since ’61?

No. In 1961 I bought the pet shop downtown on Broadway. It was Miller’s Pet Shop. On the corner of Sixth and Broadway there used to be a little restaurant; I was right next door, and then Singer Sewing Machine was next door to me. I moved everything [to the corner of East and Cohasset] and had a new building built.

How did you get into grooming?

I was showing dogs, and working with handlers and learning how to groom show dogs.

Have you trained much of your competition?

If it wasn’t for this school, there wouldn’t be enough groomers in Chico to handle all the dogs.

How many dogs do you groom a day?

With teaching, I can’t do as many as I could do if I were just doing my own dogs, so I only do four dogs a day. Which leaves me time to teach.

Any clients who’ve been with you since you started?

I am on to [the] second generation of people. When I had the pet shop I had people with small children, and I am doing their small children’s dogs now. Makes me feel old!

Is there anything you hate about it?

Teaching a student who won’t listen to me! [Laughs.]

But what about expelling anal glands?

No. That’s illegal in California. That’s a good thing for you to put in there. That should only be done by a vet, and it should only be done if it’s medically needed. If it’s done and it’s not medically needed, pretty soon the dog is going to have to have it done all the time.

Any crazy haircut requests?

We call it “owner’s request.” [Some owners] will bring in a coated breed (poodles, Yorkies) and they’ll want the body longer than the legs and I tell them it’s going to look like a Chia Pet. And that’s what it looks like!