Huber Pineda is kind of a big deal. He's a groomer to the stars, working on the pups of Hollywood at the Tailwashers canine salon in L.A. The animal lover was named "best groomer" on the Animal Planet show The Groomer Has It a few years back. He hasn't let fame go to his head and, since then, kept the focus on the fidos (even while appearing on everything from The Rachel Zoe Project to The Bachelor). Huber talked to us about his job and shared some of his secrets to a sparkling dog.
The Advocate: How long have you been a dog groomer? Pineda: I started helping my grandfather at the tender age of 8. That was 10 years ago...I wish, darling! Seriously, he showed standard poodles way back when in the '60s and early 70s in Guatemala, where I'm from. I was his "bucket bitch." When I moved to the states in 1992, I started doing it for a living. You do the math because I'm in a good mood and I don't want to get depressed.
What's your favorite part of your job? Aside from being in contact with dogs five or six days a week, I greatly enjoy the fact that due to me and the work of my hands they get to enjoy feeling better -- and prettier! Trust me, they know they look good! I also love my clientele. They are like family to me. They trust their babies to my care, for God's sake! And I really love styling and scissoring dogs' coats. Every dog is unique and they have unique features, like humans. I love to create unique and beautiful styles for them. It's my art!
What's your least favorite part? I hate plucking ears! It hurts them. It's the equivalent of having your eyebrows waxed! Unfortunately it's a necessary evil. If you don't cleanse those areas, they can get ear infections and all kinds of nastiness there.
Do you have any pets? Yes! They are the most beautiful dogs and cat on the face of the Earth. I have two dogs; a little Pomeranian named Yezo, who is crazy cute and quite a character, and a regal-looking Silver Standard Poodle. Her name is Aeryn and I keep her in cords (dreadlocks) and she stops traffic wherever she goes. And I have a cross-eyed fluffy cat named Romeo, who is my cuddle bug. He's shy and reserved, but sweet and loving with me. That's my family.
Do dogs have a special place in your heart as an LGBT person? Dogs are pure feelings and emotions not tainted by reason and judgment. They love everybody. Even when you consider yourself unlovable, they don't share that way of thinking. They are the closest thing that we have to the Love of God on this Earth. When there are people telling me I don't deserve to be married, when there are people who tell me I am sick because I feel a romantic attraction to another man, when there are people who tell me God will send me to hell because I am a homosexual, there are many wagging tails and wet noses and sloppy kisses who remind me I am perfect the way that I am. They remind me I should get out of my own head and to start exercising my heart, and they teach me the right way to do that.
What's your #1 piece of grooming advice for people with pets? Please brush your dog's hair! We groomers have tools like brushes and combs; we don't have magic wands! If you keep your dog's coat in good shape, I can give you the most beautiful haircut your baby will ever have.
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