Jessica Termuende went the extra mile – 8,930 miles, in fact – to find her newest employee.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, the owner of Far Fetched Grooming felt the urge to help. And, with business booming, Termuende needed more hands on deck at Far Fetched. So she used her resources to track down a dog groomer looking to leave war-torn Ukraine and settle in the Comox Valley.
It wasn’t long before Termuende connected with Nataliia Lishchinska.
“My mom was the one who suggested that there were probably some groomers that needed some help…, so she eventually connected with Nataliia, who wanted to come to Canada,” explained Termuende. “So we started talking back and forth, and three weeks later, she was on a flight from Germany, which is where she fled to from Dnipro.”
While awaiting her arrival, Termuende set up Lishchinska’s social insurance number, her Medical Services Plan, and a bank account. Lishchinska has her own suite at Termuende’s grandmother’s residence in Comox, and is quickly adapting to the dog grooming business.
Lishchinska’s move to Canada came at a heavy price. Her husband and son remain in Ukraine. Both under the age of 60, they aren’t allowed to leave (conscription laws).
“We don’t ever approach the subject, because we don’t want to set off any emotions… we only discuss it if she brings it up. But she said to my grandma the other day that under no circumstances is she returning to Ukraine.”
Lishchinska offers a lot more than her grooming expertise to Far Fetched. She also used to be a vet in Ukraine, so her understanding of animal welfare and care is extremely high.
“She can identify problems very quickly, if something is wrong with a limb, or a shoulder, or a blown knee, she is on it immediately,” said Termuende. “She even cleans teeth.”
The language barrier is a challenge. Lishchinska knew no English when she arrived, and Termuende has been relying on a translation app to communicate.
“She and my grandma (Mary) are getting along really well, despite the communication issues,” said Termuende. “But they are both learning. Nataliia has an ESL (English Second Language) book that she uses every day, and she has been taking classes at the Immigrant Welcome Centre… and she will be placed in an English course in September.
“She is doing quite well. She comes in and says something new every day.”
Termuende said Lishchinska has been a blessing.
“It’s very hard to find experienced groomers, so being able to find someone of her experience, and also being able to help someone in her situation has been really rewarding for me. She is really, really good. She is very thorough, and she does creative grooming as well. We really lucked out.”
“She really is like a ray of sunshine,” said Yvonne Wells, another groomer at Far Fetched. “She’s awesome. She’s willing to learn… and she is so happy.”
“I go to a church with Mary,” Lishchinska said, through the translation app. “I can’t say much yet, but I really love the Comox Valley.”
Lishchinska has been sending any money she can back to her family members, who are in Hungary.
“She wants to work as much as possible, so we are just trying to build her clientele for her,” said Termuende.
Lishchinska is paid on commission and is accepting new clients. Anyone who wants to get onto her client list can call Far Fetched Grooming at 250-338-7996 and request Lishchinska as their groomer.
Termuende said anyone considering assisting Ukrainian familes should make sure they adhere to the rules.
“Follow the steps. Nataliia couldn’t get a bank account until she had a SIN number. She couldn’t work until she at least had an application for a SIN. So there are steps you have to take. There is a Help Ukraine Vancouver Island website (https://ukrainehelpvi.ca/) that is quite helpful.”