My name is Betty Peto. I am the Doodle Groomer Chick. A dog groomer, with almost 10 years of dog training experience and dog mom in one person.
Having the opportunity to see and experience grooming and training facilities inside and out with this unique mix of perspectives, I quickly outlined a dream for an extraordinary grooming experience for my furry and less furry clients. A place, where doodle moms and dads get to be listened, doodle feelings and needs are noticed and respected. An environment designed to help connect with each other and a communication (verbal and body language) based on the "working with" rather than the "doing to" philosophy.
I always wondered why do groomers use nooses on their clients and still call it a "spa day". I think it's either-or. I wanted doggies enjoy their beauty appointment to the fullest, just as I do on a massage therapy. No restrains, no leashes, just a rejuvenating experience, being and staying there, willingly.
When we moved to Austin, I quickly got to work and designed a setup for my salon. I made sure my furry clients would feel comfortable around here, on and off the grooming table, so there would be no need for restrains, muzzles, grooming loops, etc. yet they would cooperate willingly. I opened my salon and gave it a go.
My "off leash" grooming style and "working with" philosophy quickly spread around the community and within a couple of weeks, my worry for new clients in a new city has been solved. Within months more dogs came in than I could handle by myself.
Back then I used to take all dog breeds as clients, but soon realized the struggle what doodle owners had with the "poodle trims" on their doods and their need for real pampering for their four legged family members, not just handling their friends as numbers. They had so many questions what they could and should do with their dogs between appointments. That passionate pressure from doodle owners shifted my priorities and I started taking only doodles in my salon. Along with being snowed under doodle hair on work days, I started working on seminars and tutorials for doodle owners and pet service professionals.
The "working with" method I use and teach is much needed and appreciated among hobby pet owners, grooming salons, vet clinics as well. When seeing the result of the method, a high energy level fluff-ball cooperating for all grooming steps willingly for hours on end are mind blowing and heart melting at the same time.
"When dogs are understood inside and out, they will get the type of attention they need to feel secure. When they feel secure, they will cooperate willingly."
~Doodle Groomer Chick
"A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skillful Sailor."
My family always had dogs and I loved hanging out with my pup at home. I enjoyed training them to jump hula hoops and even made my visually impaired cat jump over my laying dog for chicken hot dogs. Dogs are my everything. At one point in my life I got a fridge magnet: "The more people I meet, the more I love my dogs."
When I was about 8 years old, I got attacked by a pack of stray dogs. We lived in the countryside. We literally owned the last house on the street. There was a creek right near the house and a small lake on the other side of the creek. Then started nowhere, an endless field with some trees...
One day I was running along the creek to meet with my best friend. I was already competing in running, so I enjoyed the mini training on demand.
Around midway, a pack of 8-10 dogs ran up from the creek side, encircled me, barking and launching at me. I instantly froze, no one was around. For some reason, I knew I should not run. So I screamed "DAAD" as loud as I could since I knew my dad was home and I was hoping he will hear me. Meanwhile, a medium sized dog ran up again to get my leg but could get only a piece of my pants by my ankle. It started to shake my leg and I could kick the grip off. By then I was screaming and crying and barely saw anything through my tears.
Miraculously, my dad did hear me screaming, jumped fences like in the movies and literally, saved my life. I got so scared, I could not walk or talk and I was crying like a fountain. He picked me up and took me home.
Every single time I saw a dog after that incident, while I was walking or on a training (I used to exercise on the street, wintertime since the running field was not lit after dusk.) I was sweating all over and I felt super anxious.
I still loved dogs, I just could not understand whether they were running towards me to sniff hi, or to bite me and based on the incident, I assumed every dog just wanted to bite, except for ours.
It took me until my college years to get the courage to do something to understand dogs. I was volunteering at a shelter when I started my first year near Budapest, the capital of Hungary and had an opportunity to overcome my fear.
The man who got paid to take care of the dogs at the shelter was really happy to see me there. He gave me full control over the facility and the dogs but did not tell me any instructions about who bites and who doesn't.
I had to figure out ways to clean the cages and convince dogs I do not bite, nor should they. It was a challenge, to say the least. Sometimes it took me 15 minutes or more to figure out ways to get the food and water bowl out of a kennel, without getting bitten.
My persistence paid off. After a few weeks, all dogs got their walks on a leash with me on the other end and I managed not to get bitten. I was still sweating though. Haha. I spent all my free time in the semester at the shelter.
I got an award for my dedication for being a volunteer at the shelter and at the ceremony, I saw the local dog school's show. I could not believe how well behaving those dogs were. Sitting, keeping meat on their noses until their trainer let them eat it, they were healing and doing agility, funny tricks and more... The single fact that the dogs were off leash and not running into the crowd just mesmerized me.
After the show, I remembered the name of the dog school and called them to be a volunteer there. They let me know that the bite-work lessons were free to attend. I sensed that they did not really believe in my dedication, so I had to prove it. I went to every single bite-work lessons, even wintertime. I did not have a car so I was walking all the way there and back (good 30 minute walk), even when it was around or below freezing. After a few weeks, the owner of the school saw that I was serious, so he let me stick around for free for other classes so I was able to learn more. I got doggies to practice on after a while and was doing basic obedience and bite-work with them since I did not have my own dog in town. After about a year and a half, I successfully passed their dog trainer exam and went to the capital to further deepen my knowledge at another dog school, the best one in Hungary. They made this viral Christmas video. They even started a Mirror Method School in Dallas, TX.
I was giving private dog training lessons for the English speaking clients of the school I started at after the shelter and helped arrange the weekend lessons with other trainers.
I went to every single competition I could afford to go in Hungary and abroad to learn from the pros and helped to coordinate animals for film and commercial shooting. (Like training cats, dogs, and rats for Hungarian and International movies and sitcoms.)
The American dream
I really wanted to start my own life and I needed money to do that, so I packed up and went to England to save some money and I worked as a live-in carer for the elderly for 8 months. I deepened my English knowledge and learned a lot about life, the end of it and it helped put my perspective in place how to organize my time on Earth and to be aware, it'll end at some point.
I saw Cesar Millan's show in London in early 2010. After the show, I was determined to meet him ASAP. So I put all my money "on the red". I got a ticket to L.A. and there I flew, all by myself with a big dream and a stubborn, 22-year-old mind.
Within 3 days after landing in L.A. I visited the Dog Psychology Center for the first time. With a rental car, with broken GPS in it, no internet on my not so smart phone, I was holding a printed map and driving towards my dream. Towards a place I have never been before, nor was I sure the center will be there. I could not get in the center that time, rather I've been escorted out form to gates from the private property. I was holding up my tears until I got in the car, but boy when I closed the door... I felt devastated, but I was not planning to give it up that easy, right by the finish line. I was thinking about my next attempt to achieve my precious goal.
Cesar was giving a book signing event at a local Barns & Noble. I was writing and practicing my little 5 sentence speech for days to make an instant impression, significant enough so Cesar would let me see the center. I went there 3 hours early, just in case. There was already a line!
Have you ever heard that you just need to ask the Universe what you want? I did ask the Universe, then Cesar just in case and I got my signatures along with a phone number to schedule a visit to the Dog Psychology Center. I was shocked and over the moon. I pretty much had a blackout because of happiness and joy.
That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with Adriana Barnes, the director of the center.
These are the wishes Adriana and Jose wrote to me when I had to go home.
I had to go back to Europe to apply for a fiance visa to be able to reside in the U.S. I had to wait 19 months separately from my fiance for both of our paperworks to be approved so I could be able to come back to the U.S. Those were the hardest, darkest months of my life, with the brightest light at the end of the tunnel. :) We made it and we are inseparable ever since. I got my U.S. citizenship in 2016. I was the happiest camper on the naturalization ceremony to know this land my new and forever home. And I still am the most grateful. It is an unspeakable privilege to be able to live here and was worth all the waiting and crying. (Hope Levi feels the same way. haha)
I used to volunteer in two grooming shops back in C.A. Both experiences made me rethink dog grooming and encourage me to elaborate my own one-on-one dog-centered grooming style and behavior modification methods and to open my own shop.
We moved to Austin in 2013 and we enjoy the dog-friendly, live music capital of the world very much ever since. I call it the "Big Broccoli" since it is full of trees and it's like a dog park. Dogs are welcome everywhere! :)
I wanted to share my story so you will have a better understanding of my desire to understand dog behavior and where my will and superpower comes from to keep dogs comfortable, still and happy for their spa day meanwhile letting me give them a doggy "hairdo".
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
~ Maya Angelou
Cesar Millan's approach was among the first biggest influences in my life. After looking around for more trainers, I quickly realized there are other methods out there, which are hands off yet more effective than Cesar Millan's method. I felt pretty sad at first realizing it, but then Maya Angelou's quote brought my mind peace and realized methods are constantly evolving, so I just need to keep an eye out for the hottest new thing what works best.
Dr. Ian Dunbar
My next big idol was Dr. Ian Dunbar. The way Dr. Dunbar designed dog training, kickstarting canines right from puppyhood makes a huge difference in the everyday life with the dog as well as on the grooming table. Dr. Dunbar's Courses, books, and videos are a tremendous help not just for me, but also to any doggy owner who wants to replace the unwanted doggy behavior with desired ones.
Then a "trainer girl" appeared in the horizon with so many dogs around her. Her and her dogs' repertoire of tricks is breathtaking. Emily, aka "Kikopup" is a terrific progressive reinforcement trainer who mastered the clicker training method and uses only progressive reinforcement techniques to modify and eliminate unwanted behavior. She gives private dog training lessons and has an endless supply of free (and subscription based), high-quality dog training tutorial videos on youtube and on her website.
The above mentioned three dog people were my early influencers. I am constantly trying to get the newest information on dog grooming, dog training, canine health and equipment to be able to provide the widest possible variety to fit my clients needs best.
Find the hottest doodle grooming and training tips on my social media pages in footer below!
Belly rubs to your doodle(s)!