Master groomer Trerak Rakkandee has been certified many times over in everything from shampooing to blow-drying to dental hygiene. She knows the history of every AKC dog breed and understands the needs of each (she once spent five hours dematting a sheepdog to make him “100 percent perfect”). She also enjoys working with cats; she bathes and trims them and has the scars to prove it. But more than diplomas or client testimonials, the evidence of this aesthetician’s bona fides is her six-year-old bichon frise, Belair, who sits in her lap like a princess receiving her public. Showing off a snowy belly, Belair reclines as Rakkandee lifts one ear to reveal what resembles the inside of a conch shell, pink and shiny. There are those who question whether it’s necessary to buff pets to such a high gloss, but Belair is living proof that good grooming is not just about hygiene but art. In the five years since she was first certified, Rakkandee has been the star groomer at L.A. Dogworks (1014 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, 323-461-5151). When a fire recently forced that facility to close temporarily, she went independent, but she plans to return once the salon reopens because the owner, says Rakkandee, shares the belief that you can’t rush beauty. “Talk first. Rub first. Look in the animals’ eyes,” she says. “They’re like kids. You have to say, ‘It’s not going to hurt.’?” Other places to beautify your pets include Wags to Whiskers (5505 Stearns St., Long Beach, 562-430-5161), where dogs and cats emerge glistening and crowned with a bow, and the Bark Spaw (545 S. Main St., downtown, 213-748-7485), which offers a full menu of services.
Photograph by Mindee Choi