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It was May 6, less than a week after Gov. J.B. Pritzker allowed pet grooming services to reopen, that Jenny Gonzalez saved a dog’s life. Or, perhaps more accurately, brought a dog back to life.

Gonzalez, owner of Pet Emporium LLC, 7638 Madison St., said the 14-year-old toy poodle was being dried off after bathing, when suddenly the bather said to Gonzalez, “I think something’s wrong.”

Gonzalez rushed over and found the dog unresponsive.

“He was limp like a noodle,” said Gonzalez. She grabbed him and put him on the table. With a stethoscope, she listened in vain for a heartbeat. When she applied pressure to his skin, there was no color. He wasn’t breathing.

Gonzalez began to give the dog compressions, while at the same time calling the owner.

“I’m so sorry,” she told the owner, explaining what had happened. The whole time, she kept performing compressions.

“I was about to breathe into the dog’s mouth, just to see if it would help, when he suddenly took a breath,” said Gonzalez. She was shocked. The dog, she said, had already emptied its bladder and bowels, generally a sign of death.

Quickly, she moved the dog into an upside-down position to get any liquid out of its lungs. Then she cleaned the dog up.

He was alive, but not blinking and not very responsive.

Gonzalez pulled from her experience working at PAWS, when the organization would spay and neuter dogs on such a tight schedule that the dogs needed to be brought around from anesthesia as quickly as possible. She began to brush the dog gently, trying to bring sensation back to him.

It worked. By the time the owner arrived, the dog was standing up.

“I’ve known the dog for years,” said Gonzalez. “And he did not cross the Rainbow Bridge that day.”

The experience highlighted something Gonzalez feels strongly about – that more licensing and regulation should be required for dog groomers.

“Groomers aren’t licensed by the state,” she said. “There are no prerequisites and no required training.” But she thinks this should change. “All groomers should be regulated, should have licenses, and should know CPR.”

Gonzalez has kept up on her CPR skills and renewed her license regularly since she was first trained as a vet tech, a job she worked at for 10 years before joining Pet Emporium, then called Pat’s Pet Emporium. A year after that, when Pat decided to retire, Gonzalez bought the business, dropping “Pat” from the name.

Pet Emporium has been open throughout the pandemic, but only for daycare and boarding, which, said Gonzalez, was nonexistent on most days since nobody was going anywhere.

Grooming, which she started doing again on May 1, is going strong. They’ve needed to open an hour early every day to catch up with clients needing services, even though they’re currently only taking existing customers.

Gonzalez is glad to be open for a full range of services, though she said that grooming moving to the “essential services” category probably could have waited a couple more weeks.

“We’re following all the CDC guidelines here,” she said. “We have lots of hand sanitizer.” In fact, they’d stocked up on cleaning supplies in anticipation of lots of people boarding their dogs for spring break, the busiest time of the year for them.

“We’ve lost probably $20,000 in March and April,” said Gonzalez.

But for now, she’s focused on grooming as many dogs as she can. Only one customer is allowed in the establishment at a time, and there are only three people working there – all wearing masks.