TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tom Glendening became a poodle groomer out of necessity.

His wife at the time had a poodle. It needed to be groomed, so Tom got some scissors and did the job.

"I'm still doing it," said Glendening, owner, operator and groomer at Sharon's Poodle Shoppe on South Peoria. "And, I'm going to keep doing it.

"I'm on my third wife, and she's a lot younger than me. I've got no plans to retire."

Glendening, 81, is in his 56th year operating Sharon's Poodle Shoppe, the Tulsa World reported.

"Actually, I'm just one of those really lucky people," he said. "I get to wake up every day and make a living doing something I really love. Not everyone can say that.

"I liked it from day one. I thought it was interesting, and I liked all the dogs. Still do."

Glendening and his son, Austin, operate the small shop. A lot, and we do mean a lot, has changed along Brookside in the past 60 years.

"The John Zink Co. used to be right across the street, and so was Pennington's Drive-In," Glendening said. "I still miss that black bottom pie and the fried shrimp.

"And the Camelot Inn is gone. That was the one that really surprised me when they shut down. For a long time, when people would come in from out of town, the first place they wanted to see was the Camelot Inn."

Although he loves to work with dogs, he never envisioned he would spend over 50 years grooming them.

He was working for an industrial laundry in Tulsa in the late 1950s, traveling around the region.

In 1960, his wife, Sharon, decided she wanted a poodle. They got one and then another. Then they started breeding poodles.

After grooming his own dog for a while, he took it to Dorothy's Poodle Parlor, which was several blocks north of the present-day Sharon's Poodle Shoppe.

"Dorothy saw how well our poodle was groomed and asked who did it," he said. "I told her I had groomed it with a pair of scissors.

"She laughed and gave me a pair of clippers."

At one time he had as many as 25 poodles.

Eventually, he and his wife opened Sharon's. She worked up front; Tom worked in back washing and grooming dogs.

Virtually every dog that came into the shop was a poodle.

"Back then, poodles were by far the most popular dogs in the United States," Glendening said. "People around here that had dogs usually had poodles.

"And people really wanted their poodles to have the latest and greatest haircut."

Sharon's used to offer nine different hairstyles. Glendening still has a booklet full of designs that were available.

"People wanted their dogs to have nail polish and bows in their hair," he said. "Some people were very particular.

"Some of the grooming patterns on the poodles were pretty fancy."

Sharon's became popular with dog owners all over the region. In fact, at one time, one of the most famous stock cars racing on Saturday night at the Tulsa Fairgrounds Speedway was a pink car with a poodle on the side. Yes, the Sharon's Poodle Shoppe car.

"I was spending too much time at the track with my partner working on that car, so I had to give it up and get back to grooming dogs," Glendening said.

These days poodles still come into the shop for grooming, but now they are less than half of his business. He grooms all breeds, with prices from $35 to $85 depending on the size of the dog.

Most of the poodles now go with a standard groom that includes perhaps bushy hair on their head and tail but closely-cropped on the body.

Occasionally, someone wants the nails done with red polish and a bow.

"We offer anything they want," Glendening said. "There just isn't as much demand for that type of thing anymore."

His son usually gives a bath to dogs in the morning and then Glendening comes in around noon and does the grooming.

"We get all kinds of dogs in here," he said. "Heck, we even get some cats. But, you better keep a hand on those cats because they'll run off and hide."

At one time, Glendening was grooming upward of 30 dogs a day. Now, he averages about 60 per week.

Obviously, he has plenty of very loyal customers, many of whom have been bringing dogs to the shop for decades.

"I have one lady, who is now in her 90s, who has been bringing her dogs to me to groom for 50 years," Glendening said.

The shop was originally named for his first wife, and he decided to keep the name through his other marriages.

"If you start changing the name people will think the ownership has changed," Glendening said. "I never wanted to change the name because I wanted folks to know the same people own it and work here."

He estimates he has groomed thousands of dogs, "but I have no idea how many. Let's just say a lot."

When someone brings in a dog, Glendening calls the animal by name "and they run up and jump in my arms."

"I don't know what it is. I can remember those dog names, but I usually can't remember the people names," he said.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com