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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday's Tip #24 Cooling Blades

Wow, this is the first time that I have sat down since Friday.
I have been helping my daughter move her room.
Painting, moving furniture, taking things apart and putting things back together again.

I think I will go to work tomorrow just to get a break.  :)

My tip is quick tonight.

I use Cool Lube to cool my blades if needed.
I know that a lot of groomers don't like using Cool Lube.
Most of them seem to complain that it jammed up their blades.

I have never had that problem.
I spray the blade all over then I wipe it down really well.
Most importantly, I blow all of the extra Cool Lube out of the teeth, then wipe the excess off, making sure that the blade is good and dry before clipping again.

I also try to have at least 2 of each blade size sharp so that I can switch between them when one gets hot.






My tip of the day is to place the warm blade on a ceramic tile.








My daughter and I both have a 12x8 inch ceramic tile on top of our dressers.

I bought tiles with a textured finish so that the blades had less chance of sliding off.

I keep all of the blades that I am currently using on top of the tile.

The tiles were only around $2.50 each.
They are even cheaper for the plain smooth top finish.



A few weeks ago when I was buying the stainless steal for my tub backboard, I came across a 12x8 duct cover.

I like that the stainless steel stays cool, and I also liked that it was like a little tray with sides to it.

So I bought one and sat it on top of my ceramic tile.


It does help cool the blades a little quicker.
The duct cover set me back around $8.


I hope this tip helps someone.

Time to go get some rest.
Work and then more moving and painting tomorrow.  :/

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, May 27, 2011

Grooming a Pekingese

Pekingese are one of those Breeds that I don't like to clip short.
I feel that it ruins their coat.





This old guy is an example of what years of clipping a Pekingese coat can do.

He has completely lost all of his pretty tan top coat.

The peach fuzz of the under coat is the only thing that grows back now.






Most of his coat was already short under all of the long wispy hair.

I hand scissored all of the sparse, long hair off to match up with the coat that will no longer grow back.



My daughter grooms the Pekingese above.

The owners like to keep his coat natural, so he only get a light trim.
She trims his feet and rear.
The rest of his feathering gets a very light trim, just enough so that it won't drag the ground. (the 2nd picture)
The 3rd picture is Photo Shopped to show what the dog would look like with a heavier trim.

I do have a Peke that I groom now that has an incredibly thick coat.
I did try to talk the owner out of clipping the dog short, and for a while I did the heavy trim on the dog, but after while the owner wanted the dog shorter and shorter.
So now he gets a #4f  blade.
The challenge is making the clip look nice and smooth.


video


I use long, slow strokes of the clipper to get a smooth cut.
If I start seeing what looks like stair steps in the hair, I slow down even more.
It is worth clipping a little slower than spending a lot of time trying to get blade marks out of the coat.
I  also follow the direction of the growth of the hair.
Do not turn your blade sharply to clip straight down the dogs side.
Clip on an angle, and slowly curve downward towards the belly.


 


video

This Pekingese has very loose skin that makes it harder to clip smoothly.
I use my free hand to push or pull the skin tight, and then run the clipper over that area again to smooth out the cut.
Do not pull the skin too tight, just enough to run the blade over the body easily.








When clipping the hair under the arm, I to not touch the skin with the blade.

I like to skim the underarm hair off so that I don't take the chance of clipping a bald spot that will show, and also don't take a chance of nicking the underarm skin.





 I also do not like to clip down the front legs.
I clip to the elbow and skim off.
Then I scissor up the legs.
I didn't want them to look like toothpicks.
By scissoring the front legs, I also don't have to worry about exposing the large colic that runs down the back of the front leg.








I use the same blade that I used on the body to blend the head.
I skim over the top of the head increasing pressure has I clip down the back of the head into the neck.
I do the same with the sides of the head and under the chin.



That's one short Pekingese, but Mom likes it.

Clip:
Body: #4F blade
Front Legs: Scissor
Head: #4F blade, skim the top of the head increasing pressure while blending into the back of the neck.
Face: Clip the sides of the head with the #4F blade, blending into the neck. Do the same with the chin.
Ears: Scissor to just below the leather.
Tail: blend the top of the tail into the body, and scissor 1/2" off in a fan shape.

I had trouble loading all of the short videos on this blog, so I will be posting the full video of clipping one side of the Pekingese on Youtube.

 
I hope this was helpful.  :)
 
Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Unexpected Grooms

You know those days when everything seems to be going smoothly, and then your next appointment shows up.
Actually my son was talking to me, he was facing the window, and suddenly said; "Look what's coming in here."
I turned just in time to see a black blob walking towards our shop door before it disappeared inside.

Another new customer.
One of my Vet's customers.
When my Vet refers someone to me, it is a guarantee that there will be issues with the dog or with the owner, or both.



  This is what came in the door.

He is a 10 year old English Cocker Spaniel.
He has not been professionally groomed in 5 years.

Apparently, every time he was groomed he would go home all upset and not act right for days, sometimes even weeks, and his owner would have to take him to the Vet.
????


  Sooo, she stopped taking him to the groomers, and started grooming him herself.
Why is she coming to me?
It seems that the clippers she was grooming the dog with have finally stopped working.
Instead of buying another clipper, she talked to her Vet and he highly recommend me for the job.

Now, I know that I should be grateful for the referrals that I get from my Vet, but over the years he has sent me some crazy people and dogs.
I also tend to feel nervous about living up to his praise.
So far I have always been able to groom the dogs he sends me, but one day I may have to turn one away.

Anyway, I had no idea what to expect from this dog.
His owner was so nervous about leaving him.
He was one thick, overgrown Cocker.
I will say, for not being groomed professionally for 5 years, he hardly had any mats in him.
Of course he was a little chopped up from his Mom cutting out mats.

She warned me that he was a jumper.
She was right.
He spent 90% of the groom trying to find a way to jump out of the tub and off of the table.
Nothing like grooming a large Cocker that is constantly pushing against you to get off of the table.

I am sure some groomers out there are saying, why don't you use a noose?
In my opinion, it wouldn't work with this dog.
He is a choker.
Meaning, even with a noose he would be struggling to get off the table, constantly choking himself on the noose.
He was doing that with the noose in the tub.

He was a big job.
He was a good dog, just a big job.
The kind of job where you feel like you will never finish.

I could tell he was a little nervous, but I thought that a lot of that came from the nervous vibe he got off of his owner when he first came in.
The more I worked with him, the calmer he got.
Towards the end of the grooming, when I was able to turn him towards my window so he could look out, he stopped trying to get off of the table.



 I had to clip out his chest and belly with a #4f blade.
I also had to clip the inside of his back and front legs with the #4f blade.
He was also still a little choppy from some of the places his owner had cut out mats on his legs, but over all he turned out okay.





The owner was happy with the groom, and the dog was dancing all over my lobby while his owner wrote her check.
He sure looked like he was happy to me, so we will see if we get a phone call about him acting funny.



I went from this big guy to this...






  This little lady could not have been more than 4 pounds soaking wet.

Oh, and guess what.

She is 16 years old!







 Look how big my scissors look next to her.

Needless to say, I did not use the HV on her.
Even on it's lowest setting, I think it would have blown her across the room.  :/

She had a really nice, velvety coat for her age.






 Her feet were so tiny!

The Cocker's head was bigger than her whole body.  :)

It felt strange going from a large dog, trying to get off of your table, to a teeny, tiny, elderly Toy Poodle who stood like an angel on my table.







I breezed through her grooming.

It was such a pleasure after a large grooming job.






Don't you just love that little face.

She had to feel so much better getting all of that hair off.

I have been lucky the past two days.
Both of the 16 year old dogs were great on the table.







Summer grooming.

You never know exactly what is going to walk through your door.

You do know, that once the dogs are finished, you are the one who made them feel better!

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday's Tip # 23

Today's tip is not really a grooming tip, but it is to help at work.

First I have a question.
How many times have you sent the wrong collar or lead home with the wrong dog?
Well, it has happened to us.
Not often, but more than once.
It is very embarrassing to have to call an owner and tell them that you have put the wrong collar on their dog and could they please bring it back.

I know that some groomers do not keep the collar and leash.
They give them back to the owner at drop off.

I don't know about your customers, but I can almost guarantee that most of my customers would forget to bring the collar and leash back with them.

So, I have always kept the collar and leash with the dog.
The only problem is that every once in a while collars and leashes seem to get mixed up.

One day I will catch that little Gremlin that runs around my shop hiding, and moving things.

You know what I mean.
Your grooming along, you put down your brush, or your comb, or scissors, then you reach for them a few minutes later and the are gone.

Please tell me that that has happened to you too, that I am not the only one.
I know I sat those scissors on my table.
It is a bad habit of mine.
But, I reach for them and they are not there.
I look and look...I know I sat them down on my table
Then after becoming completly frustrated I find them on top of my stool.

I did not put them there!
I know I didn't!

That darn Gremlin did it!

I just know that that darn little Gremlin is sitting in the corner laughing at me.
I have one that lives in my house too, and moves things around so I can't find them.



Anyway, for years we have used little baskets above the doors of the kennels.

They have worked great, but sometimes a collar or leash will fall out and be picked up and put in the wrong basket.

Of course everyone denies doing that, so it must be that darn Gremlin again.






A couple of weeks ago I was at the hardware store.
I saw a pack of....
oh crap, I can't remember what they are called. :/

The little red hook thingy in the picture.
Darn... brain freeze.
I seem to have more and more of them the older I get.

Anyway, I decided to try them for hanging the collars off of, so they would not fall on the floor.






So far this has worked pretty good.
Of course old habits are hard to break, and we are still using the baskets.

I was going to remove all of the baskets, but they are great for holding those large, bulky retractable leashes.






Oh, yes, I know that the name card on the kennel is upside down.
No, the Gremlin didn't do that.
We turn the name cards upside down when a dog is done.
That way we know at a quick glance, what dogs are finished and ready to go home.

If you have a good way of keeping collars and leads, I would love to hear about it. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Note

 Let me start by saying that Saturday turned out to be a good day.


The 17 year old Border Collie showed up at 8:15.
She was a little smaller then I expected.
Her Mom said that she was having a good day, but be careful when working around her head and face because she has snapped at people.

She also reminded me that the dog did not like to be groomed.




The last groomer had called her to tell her to pick the dog up 15 minutes after she dropped her off because she was biting.






Her chest, rear, and belly were full of undercoat.
Her rear and belly also had some matting. 

She let me pick her up in the lobby without snapping.
I took that as good sign.
I was not getting a bad vibe off of her.



 I put her straight into the tub.
I bathed her with Best Shot shampoo, rinsed it off, and then worked the Best Shot Creme Rinse into her coat like shampoo.
I put extra creme rinse on the areas with the undercoat and mats.
Most of the undercoat and mats came out with the HV drying.
Like the other elderly dogs I groomed this week, I packed her ears with cotton and used the Happy Hoodie while drying.



I did not want to use the brush on this dog anymore than I had to.
It was my guess that the reason the dog started biting the last groomer was because they tried to brush the dirty coat out before the bath.
That was most likely too much pulling on an elderly dog.
I let the shampoo, creme rinse, and HV dryer do most of the work.


She was great.
She never even tried to snap.
She never got upset about anything.
I worked slowly, and she had a good time watching people out the window next to my grooming table.
I got her in the tub at 8:30 and finished her by 10:00.
When we called the owner to pick her up , she thought  we were calling her to tell her we could not do the dog.
She could not believe she was finished.

I don't know about other groomers out there, but it seems that the owners who warn you about how bad their dogs are, turn out to be easy to groom.
I have had owners call for an appointment telling us that the dogs is a mess and matted, then when they come in I only find two little mats.
As apposed to the owners who call and say their dogs have no mats and come in with a pelted dog. :/

The Border collies Mom was truly worried about how the dog was going to behave.
I will happily groom her again...even at her age.  :)


You may have noticed that my post today was titled 'The Note'.
I have received many notes or cards in the mail over the years.
99% of them are to let me know of the death of a dog, or that the dog will no longer be coming because the family is moving away.






When I saw the card in the mail, I thought "Oh no, who passed away?"

When I opened the card, this was the picture on the front of the card.








The card was from a long time customer who's Cockers had passed away a couple of years ago.




This is her new puppy.

I have groomed her four times since they got her in February.

This was her first grooming.

A bath and trim.
She did pretty good for her first grooming.




 This was her second grooming.

Her owner was doing a great job of keeping her brushed out.
She did good for that groom also.


This was the same puppy for her third grooming.

She did so good that I took pictures of her to show how to put a bow in with bangs.

 Her Mom was still doing a fairly good job brushing her out, but the owner said that the puppy was really starting to act up when she tried to brush her out.
So I scissored about 1/2 off of her for this grooming.







I don't have a picture of her for the grooming I did in May.
She came in matted.
She was really giving her Mom a hard time about the brushing, and the owner had given up and told me to take her short.


She was pretty matted.
I was able to do a cute lamb cut on her.
I used a #4f on her back, and a 5/8 blade on her legs.
The husband didn't care if we took her short, but don't take that bow away!  :)

She was really feisty for that grooming.
If I even tugged on a knot she would swing around and snap.
I just ignored her, she wasn't really being mean, she just did not want you to pull on her knots.
And, she was just being a hard headed Shih-Tzu.
(I can say that, because I owned one, and boy was he a hard head.)

The owner always asks how she does, and if she is getting better about the grooming.
We always joke with her that 'she is getting there, just give her time.'

This is what was in the card.



I don't remember her rushing me about the groom.
Yes, she asked for a special time out, but it gave me plenty of time to get her done.
The couple of times that she snapped at me didn't even brake skin.

I have been bitten pretty badly by a couple of dogs and one cat over the years, and no one has ever sent me a note or called back to see if I was okay.

I have always really liked this customer.
This note was so unexpected, and appreciated.
I wish all of my customers were like her.
This is one note that I plan on keeping.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, May 20, 2011

Grooming Dangerous Dogs

I thought about blogging yesterday, but that is about all the energy I had left last night. :/

I didn't think that I had anymore elderly dogs on until tomorrow.
I was wrong.

Boy, was I wrong.

My very first dog of the day yesterday.
Another new customer.
Another 17 year old dog.
This one was severely senile.

The first words out of the owners mouth, as she struggled to bring him in, was; "I think he has become senile."
That went without saying.
The dog was walking into my lobby walls.
Oh, and add deaf and blind to his medical issues.

I couldn't believe my luck.
Two days in a row of really old dogs.
I think we are going to have to start asking customers how old their dogs are, when they call for an appointment, so we can book the day for the extra time it takes to groom the elderly ones.

I really don't mind grooming elderly dogs, but one a day is enough for me.
It is enough just worrying about one elderly dog a day, and praying that it will get through the groom easily.

This dog was down right dangerous to groom.
It did not help to find out that the dog had been being groomed by a Mobile groomer, and that the owner would hold the dog down while the groomer clipped it.

Hold the dog down!? 

I will admit that if I was grooming alone, I most likely would have turned the dog away.
I will also admit that I would rather have groomed a biting dog.
Elderly, senile dogs are just too unpredictable.





This old guy was non-stop motion.

I mean, he did not stop moving for a second.

I was afraid he was going to have a heart attack from shear exhaustion.



 He had too much hair to hand dry, so I took the chance with the HV.

Even thou he was deaf, I packed his ears with cotton and used the Happy Hoodie, praying that he would not reject the dryer.

I watched very closely, looking for any signs that he might be stressed.
Thankfully he did not reject the dryer, and I had him completely dry in around 10 minutes.




The short video clip below shows how jumpy he was on the table.

video

He danced like that the entire time he was being bathed, dried, and clipped.
Oh, and he absolutely refused to let you hold his face to scissor his head.
I had to hold onto the hair on the side of his cheeks, and scissor the opposite side of his head while his head bobbed up and down, back and forth.




I finished him.

It wasn't the greatest groom, but I am sure he felt better.









I will say that I have to get myself into a certain state of mind before I start grooming them.
I have to get into a relaxed state.
I try to transfer that relaxed state to the dog by keeping my touch very soft and gentle.
Even when I have to move the dog or push him back into place on the table, I try to do it gently and calmly.

You would probably laugh at me if you were in my head.
If I feel myself starting to get agitated, (the agitation is from fear of the dog possibly hurting itself) I will start talking to myself.

What do I say to myself?

'Calm down, he's old."
'You're doing fine, relax.'
'You're half way done, hang in there.'
'You know you can do this, you're almost done.'
'Why do I do this to myself.'  :/

I know it's crazy, but it gets me through some of the most difficult grooms.
I remember when I first started grooming, and I was grooming by myself in the back of a pet shop, there were times that some grooms brought me to tears.
I would feel so over whelmed.
What got me through?
I would give myself a lecture.
I would tell myself; 'calm down, you know what you are doing, you groom dogs everyday and get through it, just relax and take your time.'

I have to say, that talking to myself helped get me through some tough grooms.

I don't have to do that much anymore, but it still helps me when a groom is pushing me to my limits.
I was mentally exhausted when I was finished grooming that elderly Bichon.

I find that if I know ahead of time that the dog I will be grooming may be difficult, and I can give myself a pep talk before I start, and get in that calm place, that 9 times out of 10 the groom goes smoothly.

Do you think that that was my only elderly dog yesterday?



Nope!



This little 16 year old was my second groom of the day.

I have groomed her about half a dozen times.

She is a little scary to groom only because she is prone to seizures, but she is great to groom, and she only takes me an hour or so to groom her and get her back home.





It has been a weird week so far.

After finishing the elderly dogs, my husband came in the grooming room to tell me that the owner of this dog wanted to talk to me because I did not get the groom right the last time.

Before I went up to the owner, I looked at the file.
I had only groomed the dog one time, last October.
The owner had just rescued the dog.
I had given the dog a Puppy Cut (1/2 off all over)
I had a note that I had only neatened the head and face because someone had already clipped it short, and the new owner wanted it to grow out.

The owner said that she had been staying at her house 'down the shore', and that was why she had not been back to me.
She said that nobody could get the head right.
I reminded her that I had not groomed the head when I groomed her dog because it was growing out from being clipped off.







She was a nice lady, she just had a really hard time trying to describe how she wanted the head to look.
She could see it in her head, but did not know how to tell me.
I told her that I would do my best to groom the dog the way I thought she wanted it.
I told her that I would try to get it right.  :)








 When she came to pick up the dog, I let my husband take the dog up to her.
I told him not to be upset if she told him that I didn't get the groom right.

She wanted the body short, about 1/2 an inch left. 
She wanted the legs short but not as short as the body. ("but make sure you don't leave them too long.")
" Make the head look like it fits the body. Don't take too much off the head, but there is too much there now."
"I like the ears long."
" I like the mustache the way it is, but can you do something with this?" 
She was holding the hair on both sides of the dogs cheeks.
"He has beautiful eyes. I want them to show."
"Clip the hair on the top of his nose off so I can see his eyes."



 I neatened the ears.
I blended the top of the head into the back of his neck and the top of his ears.
I skimmed the #4f blade down the sides of his face.
I clipped the top of his nose with a #10 with the grain, and blended into the top of the mustache.
I scissored under the eyes, and blended the hair into the sides of the face.
I left the mustache from his nose to the corner of his mouth, and neatened it up.

Then I looked at him and said; " Oh well, we'll see if I got it right."
I figured it was a 50/50 chance she would like it.


My husband took the dog out.
He popped his head back in a minute later.

"Oh no." I thought.

"She likes it. She wants you to write down what you did for the groomer down at the shore."

I hope that groomer doesn't get mad at me for telling her how to groom the dog.

My first appointment of the day tomorrow is the 17 year old Boarder Collie.
The owner said he does not like being groomed.  :(

Wish me luck.

Happy Grooming, MFF