Dog parents know only too well the hassle and often tears involved in bathing their pets. Enter Prateek Bilagali Ashok who first greets your dog and makes friends with them, makes them feel comfortable, plays with them a bit and then gets to work on styling them. He grooms the dog all by himself and the entire process takes about two hours.
An animal enthusiast since infancy, Prateek wanted to take up Veterinary Medicine in order to be close to animals but ended up pursuing business management after being unable to crack the colleges of his choice. But even while working odd hours as a marketing executive at IBM, Prateek never lost touch with animals and made sure to find time for them in his busy schedule. But all along, the dog lover had a plan.
Prateek worked hard at his corporate job, saved enough money and left for Singapore where he enrolled into a certified dog grooming course with The Singapore Kennel Club. After all that necessary preps, Prateek set up ‘Pawz and Care’ in 2015 and started to work his magic on pets. Prateek is now a professional pet groomer who grooms approximately 130 to 140 dogs in a month. While he attends most of these sessions personally, Prateek has a 3 member team to help him with the job. But since most clients want his personal attention, he tries to limit his appointments to make sure he gets to work them all.
Prateek spends a minimum of two hours per dog in which time massages and bathes them, trims their nails and hair, checks their teeth for any infection. He never sedates any dog unlike several others in the trade. Even if the dog is aggressive, he says spending some extra time on it and gaining its trust works wonders.
Though it sounds like fun job, pet grooming can be a very hectic profession that requires oddles of patients and even potentially getting bitten oncer or twice. Prateek takes anti-rabies shots annually to keep himself and his family safe.
Surprisingly, Prateek’s wife Madhumita is not a dog person at all. “She doesn’t even want to touch a dog”, laughs Prateek. “But, this is exactly what I wanted in a partner. Otherwise, I would have spent the rest of my life in a dog’s world. I want to keep my personal space to myself”, he adds. The couple religiously go on a beach holiday every year-end with their two dogs, Blush and Bageera. Bageera now stays at Prateek’s native Chikkamagaluru in their farmhouse giving company to his father Ashok Bilagali. He is enjoying the free space and calm nature there and is very happy. So they decided to let him be there.
Prateek agrees that grooming dogs is a very demanding and draining job. But the groomer says that the ‘Before-After’ photos make it all worth it. Prateek’s clientele includes pets of famous personalities and movie stars and if you want to get your dog groomed by Prateek you will have to book an appointment at least a week ahead.
But life was not always easy for Prateek, who was mocked by his friends for trying made a career out of washing dirty dogs. Even his father had expressed concerns over his choice of profession and future. Prateek’s success and happiness at his job, however, has shut everyone up. And Prateek says that he wouldn’t have it any other way.