A New York City pet groomer is giving senior shelter dogs free haircuts he hopes will help them find their forever homes.

Mark Imhof was working in the financial sector as a certified public account and internal auditor when he began thinking of a career change.

"My fiancée was like, you love the dogs, why don't you do something with dogs," he told CTVNews.ca.

Imhof himself adopted two senior pitbulls last year.

He recalls giving one of the dogs a bath after coming home from the shelter, and seeing layers of dirt coming off her fur, so much of it that he was worried the dirt might actually stain the bathroom floor.

“We could tell right away that some of her self-respect came back,” Imhof said. "It's magical, the transformation the dogs have.”

After crunching some numbers, Imhof was pretty confident he could start a dog grooming and walking company without taking a financial hit.

Late last year, Imhof trained in dog grooming and launched his pet service business ‘Mark The Dog Guy’.

After graduating from the grooming program, Imhof started volunteering with the Animal Care Centers of NYC, where he gives senior dogs free baths and haircuts.

"The transformation that a completely matted, very dirty dog makes once its cleaned and trimmed down and feels good about itself, it's just amazing."

Imhof said he has noticed that the dogs' spirits are lifted after they're washed and groomed and he notices improvements in their behaviour.

He said one dog he groomed named Elmo had two inches of matted hair that was almost as hard as plastic covering his body.


Today we tagged along with Mark The Dog Guy to watch and document a new volunteer grooming and bathing initiative he has...

Posted by Susie's Senior Dogs on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"Of course he's going to be in a bad mood or have behaviour issues because his hair is just pulling every time he moved," Imhof said. "Imagine if all of your hair is glued together on your scalp and looked like a '70s shag carpet, so every time you moved it hurt. That's what matted fur is."

He said many of the dogs he's groomed have been adopted shortly after – even one dog who had found himself on an "unadoptable list."

"There are certain people who can see through a dirty dog and see the soul inside of it and know there's a beautiful dog inside of there," Imhof said. "But for most people, when something looks more physically appealing, it's going to be something you want to take home with you."

He recommends that those contemplating bringing a dog into their home visit shelters first, before purchasing a pup from a breeder or a pet store.

Imhof adds that senior dogs are often a lot less work than puppies.

"These senior dogs are already potty trained and they know what the shelter is like, and they don't want to be there."