Jan Nieman wasn’t always a dog lover.
But more than two decades ago, when her daughter Kris came home from college and announced she’d prefer going to dog grooming school than returning to university, Nieman and her husband Niel gave their daughter their blessing — but Nieman, 45 at the time and residing in Maryland, also got an idea.
Instead of returning to her white-collar — high-stress — job with the Social Security Administration, she wanted to go to dog grooming school too.
“This was in the early 1980s, so it was kind of a pioneer business at that time. But I would watch my daughter go off to off to work, swinging her little grooming kit, off to play with dogs all day, and I thought — I could do that,” Nieman said. “I knew nothing about grooming dogs, nothing about business, but I went off to grooming school anyway — my husband and family and friends thought I was crazy. And boy, did I have a lot to learn.”
In her book, “Going to the Dogs: Confessions of a Mobile Pet Groomer,” Nieman, who now lives in South Fort Myers, chronicles the ups and downs of her learning experience — from problem pets to broken down vans — and every furry fiasco in between, including encounters with a wolf or two. Although, Nieman said that the biggest issue in her entire 21 years as a mobile groomer were the vans she and her staff used to get around.
And while her career as a dog groomer might have been a strange concept to Nieman 30 or 40 years ago, she said her latest endeavor as a published other is even more bizarre.
“I’ve always been a writer, but when I got down to Southwest Florida — and thought I was retired — I kept dreaming about these broken down vans, and I thought if I wrote about it, I might somehow end these nightmares,” Nieman said. “As I wrote, all the crappy, horrible stuff became funny, and pretty soon I had a manuscript. It took me three years of sitting in with the Gulf Coast Writers Association (GCWA) to get it all together, but that’s where I met Chris Angermann.”
It was because of Angermann, a publishing expert and a speaker during a GCWA event, that Nieman is now — in addition to being an ex-mobile groomer — a published author.
“He was so gracious and gave me all sorts of advice on my manuscript. I worked on it some more, sent it back to him, didn’t hear anything for a while, and so I thought that was the end of it,” Nieman said.
But Angermann was thrilled with Nieman’s concept — and the proof is on paper.
“Meeting Chris was so serendipitous for a first-time author like me, and the book is so well-written thanks to him — I had the impetus, but he put all the finishing touches on it. I have to give him so much credit — he took a chance a novice,” Nieman said.
Though Nieman can check “mobile dog groomer” and “published author” off her list, she said she’ll always and forever be an animal lover.
“I loved working with the animals, and I really liked working with their owners too. I grew to really truly love dogs, and I still do,” she said. “And I love meeting new people, so I hope plenty of people — and pets — come out to meet me and share some stories with me.”
Islanders will have the perfect opportunity to get to know Nieman — and her shelter dog Sasha — on Monday, March 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., when Nieman will sign copies of her book and offer pet grooming tips at MacIntosh Books & Paper. And of course, attendees are more than welcome to bring their canine companions to meet Nieman.
Nieman said she loves speaking to groups and interacting with people and, as long as she can sell her books, she will accept speaking engagements free of charge — just drop her a note, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Jan Nieman and “Going to the Dogs,” go to www.authorjannieman.blogspot.com.
MacIntosh Books & Paper is located at 2407 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel.
Author Jan Nieman — and Sasha — will be at MacIntosh Books & Paper on Monday, March 21, to give pet grooming advice, share stories and sign books.
Fact BoxTo Go
Jan Nieman book signing
Monday, March 21
10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
MacIntosh Books & Paper
2407 Periwinkle Way
For more information