|It all started
with an e-mail last November. Animal
Planet, the cable TV channel, was
searching for dog groomers to participate
in a new reality game show.
more stories like
thisJasper Asaro didn't think much
of it at first, but his wife took
the lead and sent in a response.
Ten minutes later, the Stoneham
groomer got a phone call. It was
the network, and it was interested.
Asaro became a
contestant on the show "Groomer
Has It" within a few short
weeks, and is one of six remaining
competitors for the grand prize
of $50,000, a mobile grooming salon,
and the title "Groomer of the
get past the first couple days with
the cameras in your face, once you
get down to the grooming, you do
what comes naturally," Asaro
said of his experience on the show.
Contestants were brought to Los
Angeles and sequestered in what
the network has dubbed "the
Dog House," an upscale loft
away from radio, television, the
Internet, and their families.
Asaro said the
hardest part of the competition
was being apart from his family
for the month that filming took
thought I was a little bit crazy,"
he said, "but my friends and
family supported it."
In doing so, they
were behaving as they did when he
started his dog-grooming career
18 years ago. Asaro managed an auto
parts store then, but he had "had
it with the rat race," he said,
and wanted to do something he loved.
He had always wanted to work with
animals, he said, although dog grooming
had never occurred to him as a job.
One night, encouraged by his wife,
he decided to take the plunge. The
auto parts business became a thing
of the past, and Asaro has never
Even in these tougher
economic times, the Dapper Dawg
School of Professional Dog Grooming
will remain successful, Asaro predicts.
he said, adding of his customers:
"Even if they don't have the
money for anything else, they get
their dogs fixed up." His TV
exposure certainly hasn't hurt.
Asaro said his Stoneham shop has
seen a flurry of activity of late,
with people frequently coming in
to say they saw him on the show,
which has finished filming but is
As for how his
work with Boston-area dogs prepared
him for his national spotlight,
Asaro said the Dapper Dawg business
is far more stressful than the on-camera
one. In his day-to-day work, he
contends with everything from standard
poodles to heavily matted fur, so
he thought he had a pretty solid
foundation for anything the show's
producers might throw at him from
the canine world.
The show's list
of challenges, however, didn't come
solely out of the American Kennel
Club's specifications for dog breeds.
And for Asaro, there was a big problem:
"Once I saw
the cats, I thought, 'I could be
going home tonight,' " he said.
Their appearance came only a few
weeks after the show's participants
found themselves shearing sheep
and working on dogs made of yarn.
But Asaro didn't depart on cat night
and is still going strong in the
competition, now placing among its
top six contestants.
And what was it
like to spend every waking moment
with nearly a dozen strangers who
wanted to beat you at your own game?
just sat around and talked after
challenges. . . . It was tough to
talk to total strangers for eight
hours," he said, particularly
as the field was winnowed down and
fewer contestants remained. Asaro
said he has stayed in contact with
some of his fellow groomers, getting
the odd call from former opponents
when episodes air.
One other highlight
from his participation, Asaro said,
was appearing on NBC's "Today"
show. There he focused, not surprisingly,
on grooming a dog in a short period
But are the lights
and cameras of Hollywood calling
to him, now that the show's taping
has wrapped up? No, said Asaro.
He's happy to go home, get back
to work, and spend time with his
a lot of people looking for the
drama," he said. "I was
there to win a contest."
Adam Sell can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2008 Globe Newspaper Company.
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