About Us

Hey all – Melissa here!

Thanks for taking a look around. I’m thrilled that you are here.

You and I – we are so fortunate to be in this amazing industry. Most of us did not land in the pet industry unintentionally. Most of us are here because we are passionate about animals. We are fulfilling a dream – a dream of working with pets. How cool is that?

With well over 30 years’ experience in the grooming industry - I guess you could say I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve had a lot of success - and a lot of disappointments.

I'm sure my career started out like many of yours. I'm self-taught. I was an animal crazy kid that begged for a job at kennel when I was just 16. I did typical kennel help for a few years and then one day the groomer was fired. My boss called me that night. I had a new job title. I was no longer kennel help - I was the new groomer. The first day in my new position I had six dogs to do and very little idea how to do it! But you know what? I jumped in and figured it out as I went along.

Were my early dogs well groomed? Heck no!! They were atrocious! And I had no idea how bad they really were until I looked at the photos years later. (terrifying, really)

Luckily, I was blessed with a boss who was progressive in the kennel industry. She got all the trade magazines that were available (remember we are talking the mid 70’s here!) and never threw them out. She kept them neatly stacked in a storage room on the upper level. Whenever I had a few moments, I would sneak into that storage closet and thumb through the magazines like I was looking at a Playgirl magazine!

It didn't take me long to find my first trade show. See my first grooming competition. And discover voluntary certification testing was on the horizon for groomers! (I told you I was in the industry for a long time right?)

But with all successes – there are always a TON of mistakes, oopsies, times you called yourself ‘stupid’ and plenty of lessons learned the hard way. I’ve experienced plenty of joy and gratification in this field. But those rewards did not come without loads of work, lots of sacrifices, oodles of frustrations, and even a few tears.

I'm one of those crazy people that can't stop. I've had plenty of obstacles put in my path. Physically. Mentally. And financially. When I was at the height of my career, my right hand could no longer take the physical demands that grooming places on you. At first I thought my career was over. But I was so wrong. In reality, my career was just starting to take off!

I love sharing my stories when then can help others. And sometimes my stories don’t stem from the grooming world. Sometimes there will be an offshoot about horses, travel, cooking, maintaining personal wellness through natural means, or anything else that tickles my fancy. I have many other interests other than just our tail wagging furry friends!

There is nothing more gratifying than sharing my experiences with you so you can learn from my road of hard knocks. Hopefully, your road will miss some of those nasty pot-holes life always tosses at you!

My goal is to help encourage others become the best they can be. I love helping people improve their grooming skills. Become more efficient. Become smarter business owners. Become better managers. There is nothing more inspiring than watching people become stimulated. To grow. To progress. To advanced their careers. Bottom line; to become the best YOU can be!!

I wish you safe, and fruitful, travels as you spread your wings towards success in the professional pet grooming field.

Happy Trimming!

Melissa Verplank
Founder & President
~ The Paragon School of Pet Grooming, Inc.
~ White Dog Enterprises, Inc.
~ MelissaVerplank.com
~ Whiskers Resort & Pet Spa, Inc.
~ Whiskers University
~ Learn2GroomDogs.com

P.S. I share my life with a great husband (and fellow pet stylist). We are blessed to live on an amazing farm in West Michigan. We share our home with 3 Maremma Sheepdogs, 1 Bernese Mountain Dog, 5 cats, 6 Friesian horses, and an array of chickens.