DEAR SUN SPOTS: I would like to learn obedience training for dogs. I want to be a trainer. I am also thinking about becoming a pet groomer. Is there anyone in Lewiston or Auburn who offers this? — [email protected]

ANSWER: Sun Spots found some websites that offer training for trainers, but she can’t be sure how legitimate or useful they’d be and is reluctant to recommend an unknown.

The website for the Animal Humane Society suggests what Sun Spots suspected — that the best way to learn is to be an apprentice to an established dog trainer. There are two professional organizations, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (www.ccpdt.org) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (www.apdt.com), that may be able to help you find a willing trainer.

You may want to start by volunteering at a kennel or humane society to get to know what the job will be like and to meet some professionals in the field.

The same apprentice option applies to being a groomer, although there are schools for that as well. Online, Sun Spots found:

— A+ Pet Grooming Academy, 49 Shaker Road (now Maine St.), New Gloucester, ME 04062, 657-3399, www.apluspetgroomingacademy.com

— Happy Paws Unleashed Grooming Academy, 647 Lewiston Road, Topsham, ME 04086, 725-7990, www.unleashed-pets.com

Both of these are listed at www.maine.gov as Maine Licensed Proprietary Schools.

At ehow.com, Sun Spots found the following tips for aspiring groomers:

* Consider a professional grooming school that can provide you with a foundation of skills needed to become a successful pet groomer.

* Work as an assistant or trainee at an established grooming facility to obtain hands-on experience. This is a great way to learn proper grooming techniques and pet health habits.

* Consider a correspondence course or a night class at a local university. Many offer short courses that can teach you the basics of grooming.

* Invest is manuals, videos and other resource materials to become and expert in your field and ensure you are updated on the latest techniques.

* Become familiar with all breeds and types of pets. It is necessary to know the accepted grooming style for all breeds. Grooming a cocker spaniel is quite different than styling a Pomeranian.

* Offer your services to friends and family members at no cost. This will help you practice your skills while lining up positive references.

* Research and invest in the equipment necessary to perform your job.

Readers will also undoubtedly have suggestions.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am a retired, disabled handicapped person. I have poor credit and limited monthly income, but would like to open my own business. I have no assets or no collateral to start a business with. If I were to be able to open a new small business, I would like to be able to hire at least three other persons to be employed by me. Have you any ideas as how I may be able to start? Or where I may be able to start finding the information I need for such an endeavor? Thank you. — No Name via email

ANSWER: Sun Spots would need more information to be able to help you in any meaningful way. What kind of business, doing what? There is a great deal of difference in, say, opening a restaurant than there is in home bookkeeping.

Sun Spots is also puzzled as to your desire for three employees. Many, if not most, people who start businesses with no previous experience or assets begin by doing something at home alone, then expanding.

If you have a skill or interest, you might want to start thinking about how you can turn it into a business. Then write Sun Spots again with that specific information and she’ll see what she can dig up.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]


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