Emily Pritchard lost her lower right leg after being diagnosed with cancer in 2019, but it has not stopped her pampering pets in the grooming spa at Jollyes’ store in Cannock, Staffordshire.
The 24-year-old has had to adapt to working from a wheelchair and is now learning to walk with a prosthetic leg which she will wear for work as she gets more confident.
Using an adjustable grooming table, her clients range from tiny Yorkshire terriers to an 18-stone Newfoundland, as she and her spa colleague give makeovers to as many as 11 furry clients a day.
Emily returned to work last August after 14 months off during treatment and recovery and was delighted when the spa was able to reopen permanently following the end of lockdown restrictions in April.
“It was fantastic to return to work to see all the store colleagues, the dogs and their owners again," she said.
"It feels like we’ve got a bit of normality back and for me it’s meant I can do what I love most.
“Finding out I had cancer was really hard and going through the treatment was very tough, but wanting to get back to work and grooming the dogs helped get me through it.”
Emily, who lives in Shifnal but is originally from Great Wyrley in Staffordshire, had suffered with an aching knee for three months before she was diagnosed with cancer and told she would need an amputation above the knee.
She underwent specialist treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and on top of recovering from the operation and undergoing chemotherapy, she had to shield from Covid when the pandemic struck.
Her love for dog grooming began during work experience while studying animal care at Rodbaston College, Staffordshire. She has been a professional groomer for eight years and joined Jollyes three years ago.
“From the first day, I have loved it here at Jollyes and they’ve been really good to me all the way through my treatment and in helping me to come back part time,” she said.
After the spa reopened, a lot of work involved corrective clipping to sort out DIY lockdown haircuts that had gone wrong. Now she gets requests to give dogs mullet cuts which have become trendy, though she draws the line at colouring dogs and painting their nails. Her favourite dogs are Collies.
Jollyes regional manager Matt Godwin said: “Emily is the most positive and inspirational person I know. She always wanted to come back to work and get on with doing what she does best. She’s full of beans, happy-go-lucky and loves being around animals.”