About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Customers

I have been averaging a few new customers a week lately.
I guess I have gotten a little too used to my regulars customers.
It is nice to have regulars.
You know exactly what they like and don't like on their dogs.
You can breeze through the grooming knowing that you are doing exactly what your customer wants.

It may just be me ,but lately I have had a run of new customers that give the most confusing instructions for how they want their dogs groomed.
Or, I just can not get straight answers out of them.
My grooming pictures help out a lot, but not always.
Even with looking at pictures, some of these new customers just can't seem to answer my questions.
Then there are those times when the customer answers all of your questions, but you still have doubts about whether or not they really realize what they are asking for.

Today was one of those days.

This is 'Chrissy'.
She is a 4-7year old rescue.
The rescue was not sure old old she is.
I think she is around 5.
Anyway, when her new Mom called, she made an appointment for a Standard Poodle.
When she came in today, 'Chrissy' was now a Labradoodle. :p
We started to talk about what she wanted done.
The owner wanted her short, but not too short, but would not be specific about the length.
"You know what to do." she said.
My favorite line.
She wanted a 'poof' on the top of her head.
She wanted her ears shortened, and her feet shaved.
"You want her feet shaved?", I asked, to make sure I had heard her right.
Her feet certainly did not look like they had been shave any time recently.
"Yes, shave them." she said.
"You want them shave to look like a poodle?" I asked one last time just to make sure she knew what she was asking for.
"Yes." she said.
"Oh, and she is very shy and scared." she added.
"She had a bad experience the last time she was groomed."

'Chrissy' was very skid-dish.
I could not help but hesitate as I picked up her foot to shave it.
Her feet were VERY long, and had not been shaved in a long time, if ever.
She did not act like they had been shaved before either.
By the time I talked her through the first two feet, she was calmer.
By the time I got her to the tub, she was no longer scared.
She turned out to be a great groom.

This is 'Chrissy after the bath and blow dry.
Her Mom had really done a number on her head.

It was time to pull out those magic scissors, and try to get a topknot out of that uneven mess.

Well, at least it is a little round.
I hoped that it would be good enough for the owner.

I held my breath taking her up to the owner.
Would she conveniently forget that she had chopped the heck out of the topknot?
Would she conveniently forget that she told me to do poodle feet?
Did I take her too short, or leave her too long?

What is wrong with me?
I have been doing this way too long to still let an owner get to me like this.

The owner was happy!
Thank you.

This is 'Finley'.
He was another rescue.
His Mom has only had him for 2 weeks.
I was running behind and forgot to take a before picture.
'Finley' came in with a very long coat, and his head and face chopped up short, like in the picture.
His Mom wanted me to make him look in proportion with his head.
"Don't take anymore then 1/2 off." she said.
"Leave his face and ears. I want them to grow out" she added.
"And DON'T make him look like a poodle."
Another one of my favorite lines.

I have no idea whether she liked what I did or not.
She was one of those customers that looks over the dog when she picks it up, but does not say a thing.
You just can't read them.

These were my last two new customers of the day.

This is 'Dannie'.

This is 'Sammie'.
This owner is very nice, but boy, he could confuse the heck out of you.

He answered all of my questions, only he kept contradicting himself.

I ended up translating all of my questions into a bath and heavy trim, more then half off all of the feathering, and very short feet.

Their owner liked them, BUT he wants poodle feet on them the next time.

Uhg, poodle feet!
Go figure.

Give me my regulars anytime.

My brain hurts.
I can't read minds anymore.
Actually, I am not sure my brain works half of the time anymore.
Just ask my kids.
I seemed to have turned stupid when they became teenagers. :)
At least the dogs still like me.
Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Creative Grooming

It is that time of year.
Time for me to start drawing up ideas for Hershey's Creative next year.
I did not compete this past September.
I'd like to say that I did not compete because I wanted to take a break.
That sounds better then the truth.

The truth is...
I messed up.
I messed my design up when I was getting my girls coat ready for competition.
Her coat grows so slow, and I had waited a little too long to put the pattern on her.
So, when I messed up, that was it, no competing this year.

This is my girl.

'Hanna' is 6 years old.
I started competing with her in Creative grooming 4 years ago when two of my dogs passed away from Cancer within a week of each other.
I decided to compete as a tribute to them.

This was my first attempt at Creative Grooming.
It was called 'Heavenly Butterfly'.
I wrote a poem for my two other dogs as my presentation for the contest.
This was 'Hanna' the day before we left for Hershey in 2007.
I had a really pretty design drawn up that I was going to put on the wings.

(Sorry the pictures are so bad. I had not really gotten into photography back then.)

I first problem I ran into at that competition was that a lot of her color washed out when I bathed her the night before the contest.
We were up late that night redying her.

This is right before the competition started.

This is 'Hanna' finished.
Needless to say, I ran out of time and did not get to do half of the design I wanted to do on the wings.
I did not expect to take so long scissoring.
At the very last minute I decided to glue some flowers on her wings.
I never expected to win anything, I just wanted to say I tried it.
To top it all off, I humiliated myself by breaking down and crying before I even finished reading the second verse of the poem I wrote to my dogs.
I had to stop, and hide behind my dog.
Sally Liddick kindly finished reading the poem for me. (She broke up at the end)
I won 3rd place.
You could have knocked me over.
After the competition, I said I would never do it again.
Too much stress.
Too much pressure.

Hershey 2008.
I must have forgot about the stress and pressure, because I competed again!
This time I was going to make 'Hanna' into a Hippy.
The name of my creative groom was 'Wolfstock'.
This picture was right before the competition started.

My plan was to clip a peace sign on 'Hanna's' sides, but at the last minute I chickened out.
I decided to hand scissor a heart on her sides.
I was afraid to use the clippers and have her move at the wrong time.

I used Blow pens to try to make her look Tye dyed.
I was also going for Bell Bottom Pants on her back legs.

I had timed everything out before the competition this time.
I wanted to make sure that I had time to do everything I wanted in my design.
I am very happy to say, it worked.
I did not feel as pressured.
I would be lying if I said I didn't hope to win something for this creative.
I truly would not have been upset if I had not won anything.
I had fun with this creative groom, and I was too worried about messing up the presentation I had memorized.
When I did not win 3rd place I was okay.
So, I was unbelievably shocked when they called my name for 2nd place.

Hershey Creative 2009.
I really planed a head for this one.
In this picture, 'Hanna' had been growing out for 6 months, and there was still 2 more months before the competition.
I was experimenting with different colors.

I was going to use a light gray color, but again at the last minute I decided to use the same color blue that I had used for the hippy.
My daughter and I dyed 'Hanna' at Hershey, the night before the competition.

She had so much hair on her.
She was so good.
We picked up pizza and chilled out in the Hotel room for the rest of the night.
'Hanna' loves pizza!

For some reason I don't have a picture before the competition started.
This picture is about half way through the competition.
Can you tell what the creative groom is?

It is two Dolphins jumping out of the water.
I messed up with this one.
I should have had the bottom fins sticking out from the side.
You could only see the bottom fins if you looked at 'Hanna' from behind.
I think that made the Dolphin look out of proportion.
Yes, there are two Dolphins.
Oh well, I tried.

We did not place this time, but I really liked the design.

So, what to do for 2011.
I have a few ideas.
I am going to start planning now.
Time to draw out some designs.

Oh, before I go.
I also did 'Hanna' for a Pet Expo.
I wanted to draw some attention to my booth.

It back fired on me.
'Hanna' drew so much attention that people hardly paid any attention to what was in my booth.

'Hanna' looks a little ruff in these pictures.
They were taken 3 days after I groomed her.

Lets see if I can put another design on 'Hanna' without messing it up this time. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This was a first

I had a 1pm grooming appointment show up today with her new Pomeranian. (old customer, new dog)
I promptly talked her out of the the cut she wanted.
I also unintentionally talked her right out the door.

Let me explain...
If I can...
Still somewhat stunned.

I am pretty darn good at understanding what my customers want on their dogs, if I do say so myself.
Believe me, it has come from years of practice.
In my early years of grooming I didn't always get it right.
It has been years now since I had any trouble figuring out what a customer wanted.
I did not have any trouble figuring out what my customer wanted today either.

I just did not agree with the groom she wanted on her 4 month old Pomeranian.
Now, I did not tell her that I did not agree, I just explained that I thought the cut she wanted may possibly destroy the coat before it even had a chance to come in.

What did she want done?

She wanted me to scissor all of his guard hair down to be even with the undercoat fuzz.
Her Pomeranian was a very scraggly black and tan puppy.
He had what I call the "puppy ugly's".
You know, when the coat is just starting to come in.
Well, this puppies coat was really sad looking, and it was going to be awhile before the adult coat came in.

I did not get a picture of her puppy, but this is my Pom when she was around 6 months old.
Her puppy fuzzies where almost gone, and all of her pretty guard hair was just starting to come in.

This is my girl about a year ago.

I love the natural full coats on double coated breeds.
When someone comes in and asks me to shave their double coated breed, I always try to talk them out of it.
I always warn them about what could happen to the coat over time.
I truly believe that these breeds are not meant to be clipped short.
Their hair was only meant to grow to one length and then stop.
I have discovered, that over time, most of these coats will become ruined, some sooner then others.

Here are some examples of dogs I have groomed over the years.

This is 'Chester'.
He is a PomX.
I have been grooming him for a long time.
I talked his Mom out of clipping him down when she first came to me.
She decided on a nice short outline trim.

At the time I warned her that his hair may eventually not grow back right.
I warned her again, each time she asked me to take him 'just a little shorter.'
It took a few years, but I was right.

This is what he would look like when he would come back in for another groom.
This is 12 weeks of growth.

This is another dog I groomed for the last half of it's life.
She was a Sheltie/peke cross.
She had already been shaved a few times by the time she came to me.
At that time her coat was still growing back okay.
I still explained to her owner, what could happen over time, she did not believe me.
Her hair was growing back fine at the time.
The picture above was a few years after I started grooming her.
Her owner came in and wanted to know why her coat looked like this.
I reminded her about our first conversation.
The owner decided to continue clipping the coat because she did not like the way it looked.

This is how the coat grow in as the dog got older.
This is 4 months growth.
She was clipped with a #5F each time.

So when my 1pm appointment came in today, and wanted me to scissor her 4 month old Pomeranian puppy all over, I talked her out of it.
I did not want her to ruin the coat before it even got the chance to grow in.
Just because she did not like the scruffy puppy hair.

The owner understood what I was explaining.
The pictures above helped.
If she had insisted, I would have scissored the dog.
After all, it is HER dog, and she is paying me.

The last thing I expected, were her next words.
"Okay, well I will call to reschedule" the owner said.
Reschedule? I thought, what does she mean reschedule?
I quickly said; "Well, you have an appointment. I can still bathe him for you, and do his nails, and clean his ears for you.
"No. I can do that at home" she said. "I will call you later." 
She turned, and out walked my 1pm appointment.

That was a first.
I have talked people out of cuts before, but I have never totally lost the appointment.

I am still glad I talked her out of the cut she wanted.
I know it would have ruined that puppies coat.
I also have no doubt that I would have been blamed if that dogs coat did not grow in right.

Well, I must say, owners always seem to find ways to surprise me, even after all of these years.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


For the last year, my daughter and I have been training my son to be a bather.

He is doing a great job.
He is very good with the dogs.
He is gentle and caring.

He is pretty good with drying.
There are just a few things he still needs to work on.

It is driving Jess and I crazy.

We just can not get my son to develop a ROUTINE!

My son is a nice, sweet, caring young man, BUT he does things HIS own way and at HIS own pace.

Really, could anyone look more relaxed as they are drying a Golden?

Don't get me wrong, I am glad he has a laid back personality, but there are just some times I want to give him a good swift kick in the bottom to get him moving just a little faster.

I have been telling him that if he just developed a good routine, that he could use on every dog, it would automatically help him to speed up.

I can not tell you when I first developed my routine with grooming.
I may have read it somewhere.
I know that I learned pretty early on in my grooming career that a routine made my life easier. 
My routine has changed a few times over the years.
Two things that helped me were, routine and timing myself.
This is what I am trying to get my son to understand.
I do not expect him to use my routine to a tee, I just want him to use some kind of routine.
That way if he stops in the middle of a bath for some reason, he can always pick up again and know what he has done already and what he hasn't.

This is my routine:

I always soap up the face first.
I like to let the face soak.
It helps to soften eye crud, and any food and dirt that is around the mouth.

Then I soap up the body, followed by the legs and feet.

I also do the Anal Glans at this time.

I then do a quick rinse.
 I am just rinsing some of the dirty shampoo off.

I always rinse the face first, so that the soapy water will wash down to the soapy body that has not been rinsed yet.
I pick out any eye crud and food at this time.
Then I repeat everything again for a second bath.

I rarely have to shampoo a dog more then twice.
Every dog is different, depending on how dirty they are.

After the shampoo is rinsed off, I creme rinse or do a Hot Oil Treatment.

I dry the dog in the tub with an Absorber towel, then I follow up with a cotton towel.

I always start HV drying at the bottom of the back leg.
I have found, especially on dogs that don't like the HV dryer or have not had it used on them before, that starting at the very bottom of the dogs back leg, as far away as possible from the head, helps the dog get used to the dryer faster.

Boy, was that a mouth full.
I hope that made sense.

I then work my way up the back leg, up the sides and back, and then back down the front leg.

I slowly work up the neck and HV the head only if the dog allows it.
If not, I don't push it.
I hand dry the head if the HV really upsets them.

Then I continue to dry the other side of the dog.

When I finish HVing, the dog is usually 95-98% dry.

I move the dog to my grooming table, and then fluff dry with a hand dryer and brush.

I use this time to thoroughly brush out any mats the dog may have.

After drying I run a comb all through the dog.

With most dogs, I start clipping at the back of the neck, about 2 to 3 inches from the head. ( it depends on what kind of head I will be doing)

With Schnuazers, I always clip the head first, because I like the blade to be as cool as possible. 


I clip or scissor one side of the body and legs, depending on the style I am doing.

After the one side is clipped, I then clip the underarms, belly and, sanitary.

I do all of this with a very light touch.
Sometimes, depending on the dogs skin type, I will only skim with the Moser set on the #15 blade setting.


Next, I clip out the pads of the feet and do the nails.

Now I scissor the feet, legs and touch up the body.

After I have finished the one side of the dog, I powder, pluck and clean the ears.

Next I finish the head.
I do this now, before I clip the other side of the dog, for two reasons.
One, it gives the dog an opportunity to move their head around while I am grooming the other side of the dog.
Then when I am finished the body I can go back to the face and see if anything needs fixing.

Again, I hope that made sense.


The other reason I do the head now is that if the owner comes early, I don't have to fight the dog while they are jerking around, because they know that their owner is there to pick them up.

After the head is done, I follow my routine again on the other side of the dog to finish.

This is just my routine.
My daughters routine is a little different.
Your routine, if you have one, may be really different.

I believe you should use whatever routine works for you.

I get called away in the middle of some of my grooms to talk to customers or clip nails in the Self-Serve.
My routine helps me know where I left off in the grooming when I return.

One day my son will understand what I am trying to say and teach him.

Maybe when I am dead and buried.
I will keep trying.

Every time I ask him if he did something, and he says, 'I can't remember' and has to wash that area again, I will try again!

I will try once again to get him to understand why a routine is good, smart, and the right thing to do.
AND, I will once again pull my hair out of my head when he says, 'My way is fine Mom.'

This is 'Abby'.
Her Mom likes a Schnauzer cut with no skirt.
Head: #7F against the grain.
Ears: #15 w/Moser inside and outside
Body: #7F, no skirt
Legs: Scissor 1/2 off
Eyebrows: short
Beard: Long

Happy Grooming, MFF