Gretchen has been grooming at Ahead of the Pack since the store’s opening in 2010. With more than 24 years of grooming experience, she provides the utmost care and skill when grooming our canine clientele. As a reflection of her expertise, she is also the rare individual who is proficient at feline grooming.
Gretchen is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer, a prestigious credential earned through the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA). Throughout her career, Gretchen has educated, mentored and trained numerous successful groomers in New Jersey, Virginia and Washington DC. She is nationally certified in every breed group and has displayed her talents in grooming competitions, winning 1st place in the Non-Sporting competition as well as Best All-Around Groomer of 2000. Although retired from competition, Gretchen continues to demonstrate her artful skills at Ahead of the Pack.
In addition to dedicating her professional life to the care and needs of pets, Gretchen holds a Bachelor degree in Psychology as well as a Master in Human Services from Wilmington University.
Awilda is a member of the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA), certified in all Non-Sporting Breeds. She is known affectionately by her clients and colleagues as “Willie.” In 2011, Willie joined the Ahead of the Pack family.
In her ten years as a groomer, Willie has worked with humans and canines alike from New Jersey to California and also participated in and attended grooming conventions from coast to coast. Willie has extensive knowledge in maintaining healthy skin and coats for our canine clients. She takes special pride in helping address common skin issues brought on by the elements and allergies.
Willie remains dedicated to her professional development; attending seminars, private classes, and grooming competitively. She competed in the Rising Star Class at Intergroom in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, as well as the Hershey Pet Expo in 2012. Willie continues to work closely with world renowned groomers, breeders and handlers and has earned the prestigious credential of Nationally Certified Master Groomer.
Malisa has had a life-long love for animals and styling. She was initially hired by Ahead of the Pack in 2016 as a sales associate. Three years into booking appointments and welcoming our furry clients, Malisa realized she wanted to combine her passions and become a professional pet stylist.
Recognizing her artistic eye, strong work ethic and inherent talent, Malisa was encouraged to follow her ambition by our shop’s management and, more importantly, by our two in-house Certified Master Groomers (Gretchen and Awilda). In 2019 Malisa graduated from the Dog Grooming School of Pennsylvania.
Since graduating, Malisa has fine-tuned her skillset by working side by side with Gretchen and Awilda. Under their mentorship, Malisa has become a true professional. Her enthusiasm shines through at every turn. For her near term goals, Malisa plans to participate in grooming competitions and begin the rigorous process of earning a master grooming certification. The feedback on her work from our clientele has been outstanding, and we are thrilled that Malisa has joined our grooming team.
What Drives Us
At Ahead of the Pack we offer a full array of grooming services for both your canine and feline companions. Our grooming salon is located on the second floor of the store in a calm and naturally lit environment.
In an effort to create the best grooming experience for our clientele, we schedule our appointments no differently than a human hair salon. This personal one-on-one service means your pet will receive the full attention of our grooming staff and will be with us only for the time necessary for their grooming needs, not all day.
Upon arriving at Ahead of the Pack, each new client receives a consultation with their groomer to determine the desired style and services. This also give us the opportunity to discuss with you any physical problems, allergies, matting or behavioral issues that we need to accommodate.