As I groom at work each day, I am thinking about things that I might post if I have enough time at night.
Yesterday wasn't hard to come up with something, because one of the first customers of the day rubbed me the wrong way.
I don't know what it is lately, but it is some of my regulars that are being the PITAs.
I know some people would say that I let my customers walk all over me, but I don't.
It was that way early in my career I admit.
I am much better about standing up for myself, my shop, and my grooming now, but...
I do spoil my customers.
If they ask for a favor, like getting their dog out early, or for us to babysit their dog all day, or moving an appointment around at the last minute, we do it without giving them a hard time.
I really don't mind doing favors for my customers.
Most of them really appreciate it.
Then you have the others that you really go out of your way for, and then they start to take advantage of it, or expect it.
Case in point;
I live 40 minutes from my shop.
I have a customer that lives about 20 minutes from me.
She is a little out of the way, but still on the way to work.
I have been grooming her Cock-a-poo for about 12 years now.
She found me after her Vet recommended me when her dog was kicked out of several grooming shops.
Her dog is what I call 'grumpy aggressive'.
He is a sweet dog most of the time.
The rest of the time, if you do something he does not like, he will snap, and growl at you, but he is not what I consider 'viciously aggressive'.
All you usually have to do is say, "Excuse me" or, "Cool it buster" or, "that is not necessary," in a firm voice and he backs off.
Anyway, for awhile the husband and wife would take turns dropping off and picking up the dog.
Then I groomed him out of my Van, in front of their house for awhile.
Even after I opened my shop back up, I continued to groomed him in the Van, because the husband could be a pain about picking the dog up. (wife's dog)
After while I got tired of making special time to groom him out of the Van, and asked the wife if they could start bring the dog back into the shop again.
This worked for maybe a few months, then one day, when the husband was supposed to drop off the dog at 8am, we had a problem.
The husband had apparently arrived at about 7:50am, we open at 8am.
We tend to pull up right at 8:00.
When we got in the shop the phone was already ringing.
It was the wife.
Her husband had called her all upset that we were not open when he got there so he was taking the dog to a friend of theirs house.
I knew where this house was because I had dropped the dog off there before when his owners were on vacation.
The wife was upset with her husband and begged me to go get the dog.
He had left the dog tied up outside because their friend was not up yet.
When I pulled up to the house, I did not see the dog.
I walked down the driveway to the back of the house. (there is no fenced in yard)
There was the dog....tied to the garage door.
If anyone had opened that garage door from the inside, without seeing the dog, they would have hung him.
So, after that, I offered to pick up and drop the dog off.
That was about 5 or 6 years ago, before the gas prices exploded.
The wife is a nurse and works all kinds of shifts, and that is way I offered to help her out.
Now please don't yell at me. :/
I do not charge her for picking up and delivering her dog.
I heard that!
I no, I no.
I know your shaking your head, but hold on, I haven't finished yet.
You will really want to yell at me now.
About three years ago the wife starts asking me what I though about Goldendoodles.
Believe me I did not hold back.
I tried very hard to talk her out of a Goldendoole.
She already complained enough about the cost of grooming the dog she had now.
I warned her that grooming a Goldendoodle would be very expensive.
I tried so hard to talk her into a little lap dog.
She got a Goldendoodle...a very poorly bred Goldendoodle.
The Doodle is very, very sweet, but she is a spoiled, untrained, nutcase.
Yes....they just assumed that I would pick up and deliver this dog too.
Yesssss, (hanging my head in shame) I pick up and deliver that dog too.
Yesssssss, (hanging my head even lower) I still do not charge for it.
The last few times that we have picked up her dogs, we have asked the wife to pick up the dogs as soon as they were done, because the Cock-a-poo is older now and no longer likes staying at the shop all day till we go home.
This worked out fine until yesterday.
We had talked to the wife after the last grooming about her picking up the dogs, after they are done, from now on, because it was better for her older dog....she agreed.
Fast forward to yesterday.
The weatherman was calling for sloppy, messy weather, and possible slippery roads for the evening rush hour, so we were glad that the owner would be picking up her dogs after they were done, and we would not have to detour to take them home.
When my husband picked up the dogs, he was met by the husband.
"We can't pick them up today, so you are going to have to bring them home," he informed my husband.
No... would you mind bringing them home.
No... thank you for doing this for us.
I was not a happy camper.
We have gone above and beyond.
Why do people have to ruin it.
Why do they have to make you fell like an idiot for ever doing them a favor in the first place.
We will be talking to them before their next appointment.
That was only the beginning of the day.
On to the next customer who is slowly burning his bridge.
We have been grooming this Cocker for about 11 years.
He is another 'grumpy aggressive' dog that has been thrown out of other grooming shops.
My daughter and I both groom this dog.
We have both been bitten by him on the past, but nothing serious.
We have worked with him over the years and for a while there he was doing pretty good.
He had his moments, but for the most part, if you gave him your undivided attention, and worked slowly, he was okay.
About a year ago this Cocker suffered some serious back issues.
He became partially paralyzed.
The Vet gave him very little time.
His owners called and asked if we would still groom him even if he could no longer stand.
He was actually very good about it.
The medication that the poor dog was put on made him balloon up in no time.
This is not helping his back or his knees.
It has made him understandably grumpier.
The last time he was in, my daughter called me over to the tub while she was bathing him because she was concerned about his breathing.
We made the call to finish bathing and drying him, but sent him home without a hair cut.
His owners were very understanding and thanked us for worrying and caring about their dog.
We have done nothing but take extra special care with this dog over the years.
That is why I was so surprised when the owner walked in yesterday and asked; "has anything changed in your routine with him to make him shake when he comes in here? He never shakes."
Are you kidding me?!
This dog is not scared of anything.
He would eat you alive if you looked at him the wrong way.
He has bitten his own owners.
We have gone out of our way to work with this dog, and you are going to come into my shop and make some veiled attempt to ask me if we have somehow hurt your dog to cause it to shake when you bring him in?
Am I wrong?
Am I being overly sensitive?
Was it just an innocent question that I have blown out of proportion?
My son bathed and dried part of him before I came into take over.
He did pretty good with my son other than some growling and snapping about his front legs.
This is not unusual.
His front legs are one of his trigger points.
I have to say, for some reason this dog really likes me, and he behaves the best for me, although that does not stop him from going after me when he feels like it.
For years I would not let my daughter touch any of the biting dogs, but the better she got at grooming, the more she wanted me to let her do the challenging dogs too.
I finally gave in, and she does a great job with the nasty ones too.
She likes the challenge of working with them, and getting them to like the grooming.
She can be as stubborn as me, and not accept help when she is dealing with a difficult dog.
Anyway, back to the Cocker.
He was grumpy yesterday, but he is not feeling well.
A lot of medical issues going on with him right now.
He did go after me when I was drying his head and ears with the towel.
One minute he was happily rubbing his head on the towel in my hands and the next second he was trying to eat my hand and the towel.
Thankfully the towel protected my hand.
I did the worst thing I could do with this dog.
I was not paying attention.
I was rubbing his head and talking to my daughter at the same time.
A big no-no with this dog.
You must keep your full attention on him at all times.
As I groomed him, I worked slowly, talked to him a lot, and never took my eyes off of him.
I was in tuned to every move he made.
The only warning that he tends to give you that you have upset him, and he may bite is, he looks right at you.
Most of the time all that I have to do is say gently; "you're doing fine buddy, just relax," and he does.
He did great for this grooming.
He never even attempted to bite, even for his front legs.
Another successful grooming, or was it.
His owner always comes for him right away.
Usually within 10 minutes of our phone call.
My daughter waited on the owner when he came in.
He always asks how his dog did.
He gets upset when we tell him that his dog did try to bite, but not at us.
He is very embarrassed when his dog is bad.
He asked my daughter if his dog had tried to bite her.
She told him, "not today."
"Good," he said. "I would feel terrible if he ever bit you."
My daughter smiled at him and said, "I'll get him for you."
The Cocker is always very happy to be going home, and usually walks right into his harness waiting while you clip it closed.
My daughter started putting on his harness like she has a thousand times before.
Can you see where this is going?
I looked over to see my daughter struggleing a little to put his harness on.
He was not walking forward like he usually does.
I instantly got a bad feeling.
Chomp, chomp, chomp.
I wasn't fast enough.
He got her three times before he let go.
The deepest bite was the fatty part of her palm, next to the thumb.
He really did a number on her.
We spent the evening a Patient First, mainly to get a tetanus shot (her next one was do this coming June) and, an Xray because the tooth hit her bone.
How do you like our makeshift bandage?
The bone was okay.
They cleaned her up and sent her home.
It was her left hand.
She is left handed.
She did not work today, but she wants to work tomorrow.
As of 9:30 tonight she couldn't even brush her own hair.
Tomorrow doesn't look good.
She has eight dogs on herself, one being a St. Poodle.
This definitely doesn't look good.
The Cockers owners were very upset that their dog did this.
Especially because my daughter was only putting on his harness at the time.
They have offered to pay the doctor bill.
We have Insurance, and we assume the risk when we take on a known bitter.
Will I groom him again?
I don't think that he has a lot of time left, he is not doing well.
I am not going to send him somewhere else now.
I will be the only one working on him from now on.
So much for playing with dogs all day. :)
Happy Grooming, MFF