In Elite Daily's Life Behind the Likes series, we talk to the people you know on the internet to find out who's really behind the screens. In this piece, we get the inside scoop from the woman running the dog grooming TikTok account full of sweet and hilarious pups.
Vanessa De Prophetis takes dog videos to the next level. As she primps her furry clients, the dog groomer behind the viral Girl With The Dogs (@girlwithedogs) TikTok account narrates their adorable doggy antics — and her hilarious voiceovers breathe new life into generic animal videos and give you an inside look into what it’s like to be a full-time groomer. De Prophetis may be working around the clock to keep your For You Page full of adorable pups, but she has no regrets about becoming your grooming guru.
De Prophetis launched her Girl With The Dogs TikTok account in April 2020 to teach dog owners how to groom their pups at home. She’d been working as a dog groomer in Niagara Falls, Ontario, since 2011, but with the start of the coronavirus pandemic, she wanted to impart her wisdom to pet owners stuck at home. “I noticed people were struggling to maintain grooming at home, and it was becoming a huge problem,” she says.
Grooming is essential to animals’ health, and she wanted to raise awareness. DeProphetis says grooming prevents matted fur (which can cause skin irritation and infection), overgrown nails (which can grow into paw pads and cause infection), ear infections, and more. “I find [people are] very unappreciative of the work that groomers do,” De Prophetis says, adding that her job is “not just playing with dogs all day long.”
The public was really intrigued with the work that goes into grooming an animal.
Her first taste of “going viral” was just one month after launching her account. On May 5, 2020, she posted a funny compilation of photos of her clients’ dogs looking scraggly in lockdown — all set to a flute melody. It pulled in almost 1 million views.
But it was a November 2020 TikTok of her thoroughly explaining (in 57 seconds, no less) how to groom a German Shepherd that really put the 29-year-old groomer on the map, with 40 million views. “I remember my phone blowing up and continuing to check the app ... I was in shock it was getting so many views so fast.” De Prophetis recalls. “I think it hit 2 million views within the first hour.” As of September 2021, the video has close to 8 million views, and over 42,000 comments.
That success gave De Prophetis the push to focus on grooming videos. “I realized I should start making more videos with different breeds of dogs — and cats as well,” she says. “The public was really intrigued with the work that goes into grooming an animal.”
Since then, De Prophetis, who has four dogs of her own, has found a niche on TikTok thanks to her unique mix of educational and comedic content. With videos that show the full grooming process and keep you laughing as she describes the pooches as “little gnocchi rolls” or “live stuffed animals with the face of an angel and mouth like a shark,” it’s no surprise her views kept ticking up — as of September 2021, she has 4.6 million followers. Since De Prophetis went viral, her IRL grooming business, Perfect Pooches, has skyrocketed. Though she’s booked for the entire year, people still regularly ask her for advice online. “I'll help people personally with their pets on maintaining their coats and how to properly groom them at home,” she says.
De Prophetis may be an expert on all things dog grooming now, but that wasn’t always her goal. “When I graduated high school, I went to hairdressing school, [but] I didn't finish because I didn’t enjoy working with the people all day long,” she says. Long conversations with human clients drained her. “I realized that the social aspect wasn't for me,” De Prophetis says.
She’d always loved being around animals, though, so De Prophetis pivoted from human hair care to doggos. “I went [to a local pet groomer], and I asked her for a job since I already knew how to cut hair,” De Prophetis says.
After a bit of begging, she got the job. But learning the tricks of the trade was more difficult than she’d anticipated. “It's not the same at all — doing human hair and animals' hair — but I got to combine my love of doing hair with my love for animals,” she recalls.
Everybody wants their dog filmed.
After watching a few of De Prophetis’ TikToks, you’ll notice she mentions many grooming products — but surprisingly, she’s not sponsored by the companies. They’re all products she uses and believes in. “At the beginning, it was me trying to educate the public,” she says. “So, I was mentioning the products and tools that I use so they could buy the appropriate things for their dogs.” One day, she hopes to launch her own line of grooming products.
De Prophetis grooms about 15 dogs per day, four days a week, leaving very little time for filming. Grooming takes anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the size of the dog, and filming adds an extra 30 minutes to an appointment. That routine was often putting her behind schedule in her day. “I was filming during the workday whenever I thought there was a dog or a cat that would be good,” DeProphetis says, adding that “everybody wants their dog filmed.”
Now, De Prophetis specifically books dogs to film after her shift or on her days off. “It's become a second job,” she says. “When I'm not physically working in my shop, I am editing videos.”
To keep the TikToks coming, she uses a mix of planning and inspiration — and she gets plenty of ideas from the pooches. “I [groomed] a King Charles Spaniel the other day, and the dog doesn't do anything,” she shares. “It just sits there the whole time. I realized I could come up with a skit about him sitting the whole time I'm grooming him.”
When it comes to those distinctive voice-overs, De Prophetis says it was a decision that happened organically. (Oh, and they’re all improvised.) “It started with [me] going through the steps of grooming and explaining it, and I don't know where the jokes came from,” she says. “I didn't know I was funny.”
Of course, going viral on TikTok means she’s susceptible to negative comments. “You don't realize it's going to affect you so much, but it does,” De Prophetis says. One TikTok of her grooming a golden retriever on March 13, 2021 generated a lot of negative responses for the way De Prophetis held the dog by its snout (and then had to use a muzzle), which people criticized as an invasion of the dog’s space. The dog, nervous, snapped at her. De Prophetis calls it an example of how people don’t always know what goes into being a groomer. “Part of being a groomer is you have to hold the muzzle of a dog when you're [near] the face or the ears,” she says.
“It's frustrating because the people commenting have never groomed a dog before,” she adds. “You have a lot of people that like to comment on how you do your job, even though they don't do your job.”
Helping animals is something I've always wanted to do.
Even so, the good outweighs the bad for De Prophetis, and she hopes to soon run her TikTok and related Girl With The Dogs social media accounts as her only full-time job. “I don't really have much time off,” she says. “If one day [I’m] able to move more to social media and not have to physically run the business as well, I think I would enjoy that more.”
All the work is worth it, though, for De Prophetis. In June 2021, she helped raise nearly $17,000 for a local dog and horse rescue through a GoFundMe campaign, with proceeds going toward rescue, rehabilitation, and medical care for the animals. “Helping animals is something I've always wanted to do,” she says. “Now I have the ability to do that. So that's pretty cool.”