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.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Curls, Curls, Curls

I have a lot of customers that like long, scissored cuts.
Every once in a while a customer will come in with their dog and want a long scissored cut, only they do not want me to 'fluff' up their dog.
They want the hair to stay curly.

I usually explain to them that I have to 'fluff' their dogs coat, because I hand dry every dog, and I also need the coat fluffed as straight as I can get it to get an even cut.
I also tell the customer to just give it a few days after the grooming and the coat will start to curl  up again.



The owner of this particular dog does not bring him in as often as I think that she should, for the amount of coat that she likes to leave on the dog.

The owner really loves the curly, scruffy look that her dog has when it comes in.

It is  just a guess, but I think that she does not bring the dog in more often, because she really does not like the dog 'fluffed' out, although she does understand why he is fluffed up.



I can't even begin to tell you how much this dog HATES being brushed. (I could show you the bite on my arm)

Because he hates being brushed so much, his owner just cuts any mats she finds out of his coat.

So, because of that, I can not give him a full scissor cut and also get his coat even at the same time.



Again his owner understands, and would rather have the full coat instead of an even cut.

So, because he looked so uneven when I finished scissoring him, I decided to surprise the owner and make him curly again.


Only a groomer can understand how hard and painful this was for me. lol





 I made a mixture of water and finishing spray.

Then I just started to spray away...all over the dog.






I grabbed small hands full of hair and squeezed it to get the curls back in the coat.







I also used my fingers to brush the coat up and backwards to encourage the hair to curl.

I felt like I was putting mats BACK into the coat. :-p






It worked.

The coat did curl back up.

There was only one problem.





Now I had to get the coat dry again without removing the curls.

I used my hand dryer and my fingers to dry the dog again.

I used my big pick comb to pick at the coat just enough to separate the curls to help them dry quicker.

This dog dried so fast with the HV.

It took FOREVER to dry the curls.









I did end up putting him away a little damp to finish air drying.

The coat wasn't as curly as the owner liked, but I am sure that by the next day he was pretty curly.





The owner loved it.

She made another appointment for sooner.

Hopefully, the fact that I showed her that she could get her dog back curly, she will become a regular.

If this dog comes in more regularly, maybe, just maybe, I can get him to at least tolerate the brushing.

He is so sweet....as long as you don't have a brush in your hand.


Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chunkers....Just Not Crazy About Them.

A couple months back I talked about the Chunkers that I bought at Intergroom.

I have used them chunkers several times, but I am not impressed with them.
Well, at least I am not impressed with the pair that I have.
Maybe a more expensive pair would be nicer....I don't know.

I personally feel that they are too hard on my hands, and that I can get the same finish with my scissors, much more quickly.

I have a grooming friend that told me once that she was taught to scissor everything with her thinning shears.
She did all of her topknots with only thinning shears.
I couldn't believe it.
I remember my hands and wrists hurting just thinking about it.

Today I decided to test my belief that I could get the same look that the chunkers leave with my scissors.



This pretty girl gets all of her feathering and flyaway hair scissored up tight and neat.

So, I decided to use my chunkers on one side and my scissors on the other side.

I groomed this side first with the chunkers.









 Before -->








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  The chunkers left a nice soft finish.

But, my hand was tired and hurt while scissoring with the chunkers,  and going back and forth, and back and forth over areas to make sure to get all of the hair was time consuming.











Now the other side with only scissors.









Before-->









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 Before-->






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 I still had to do some more touching up after this photo, but I really don't see that much difference between using the chunkers and using my scissors to get the same look.

It is most definitely quicker and easier on my hands with the scissors.

I can always come back and use the chunkers or thinning shears to quickly soften up any sharp lines I don't want.


I know that there a lot of groomers out there that love using the chunkers and/or thinning shears over scissors.....more power to you.
I like my scissors. :)

There was one thing that I did notice as I was finishing up this dog.
The side of the dog that I used the chunkers on....the cut just didn't stand up to the dog moving around and sitting down.
When the dog would shake,or stand back up the hair looked messy and uneven.
The scissored side stayed looking nice and even.

As I have said before in my posts, these are just my opinions.

I would love to try a couple of the chunkers that I saw at Intergroom.
They felt really nice and smooth in my hand
Much smoother than the one that I bought.
But, I most likely never will try them, because I can't bring myself to drop $300 to $400 on them.

If I got them home and found that I didn't like them either, I would just have to sit down and cry.

I did without chunkers for 29 years.....I'll survive. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Monday, August 26, 2013

Just A Personal Observation

I am sure that there are may groomers out there, who have been grooming for a while, that there are some dogs that you just know you may have trouble with just by the way they look.

The way they physically look.
Some special trait.

You have no idea what the heck I am talking about, do you?

Let me  try to explain.

Have you ever noticed that many apricot Poodles are nuts....sweet.....put nuts in some way?
Have you ever noticed that buff Cockers tend to really hate the front legs clipped, and are more likely to snap than black Cockers?
Have you ever noticed that Schnauzers that have the more course, wiry type hair, whose hair  would normally brush out really easily, can't stand to have their legs brushes, and most likely will snap at you when you try to brush their legs?
Have you ever noticed that orange cats are nuts?

Oh, sorry.....my orange cat just decided to have a deranged moment and fly down the hall crying at the top of his lungs.....he'll get over it in a minute.


AND...Is it just me?

Have you ever noticed that ShihTzus, or ShihTzuX's  who have these types of eyes tend to have issues?

Temperamental issues?

Doesn't she have a sweet face?

Yes, she does, and she can be real sweet....if and when she wants too.

When I first started grooming her she didn't even think twice before she went after me.

She is better now.

Now she just puts her teeth on my hand to warn me that she does not like what I am trying to do, but doesn't bite with any pressure.
Not that she wouldn't bite me anymore.
The potential is always there, and I have no doubt at all that she would nail me really good if I pissed her off in any way.

It just happened to dawn on me, while I was grooming her last week, that I have three ShihTzus that come in these types of eyes.
Two are serious biters and one has some mental issues.
I have also had some that I groomed in the past (that have gone to the rainbow bridge) that had these same types of eyes and were also bad, or unpredictable biters.

Oh well, maybe it is just me.
I honestly don't look at these traits and automatically expect these behaviors.
I usually notice the behavior first, and then look at the dog and think; 'oh yeah, I should have expected.'

Just an observation.

I am probably the only one who notices this type of crazy stuff.

Don't mind me. :-p

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Money Wins!! :(

This morning I was so excited.
I had a great story for my Happy Grooming Stories facebook group today.

Let me start at the beginning.

About eight weeks ago I wrote a post about a  very matted Lhasa mix that came in for a grooming.
I charged about $20 more than my usual price because of the matting.
I also explained to the owner that if she brought the dog in to be groomed no later than every 8 weeks, I would be able to do any length that she would like, and the price would be lower. (as long as the dog was not matted)
I spent time educating the owner about regular groomings, how mats hurt a dog, and that if she got her dog groomed more regularly, she could keep her dog in a length that she liked.

The owner made another appointment for 8 weeks right then and there.

To be honest, I was not holding my breath that she would keep the appointment today. 

I try to educate every customer that comes in with matted dogs, and most of them will rebook before they leave.
Unfortunately, not all of them keep those appointments, and go right back to letting their dogs mat before they get them groomed again. :(

I was afraid that this customer was going to be a no-show.
So, I was very happy to see the owner and dog show up this morning.

The owner kept telling me that the groom that I did 8 weeks ago was the best groom the dog had ever had.
She also remembered that I had said that she could have any length that she wanted on her dog if she was not matted.





 She did not have a mat in her.

I had managed to get a #4F and #5F through her matting the last time.

The owner wanted a longer cut this time. 

No problem. :)










 She also wanted the hair around the mouth short and tight, but not shaved looking.

Got that?






So, I ran a yellow comb attachment over her and scissored her up.



  I ran the yellow comb over the top of her head also.
Blended into the ears and scissored to finish.

I concentrated on scissoring the long hair right around the front of her mouth and taking that short, because that was the hair that the owner was pointing to when she talked about going short.

I also clipped along the lip line, under the mustache and above the beard.

Then I rounded the rest of the face off.




I took pictures, because as I said before, I was going to post about her in my facebook group.
I was just so tickled that this owner listened to me and came back before her dog got matted again.

Then she came to pick up.....

The look on my husbands face, when he came back to get the dog immediately told me that something was wrong.


"What's wrong?" I asked him.
"She is pissed," he told me.
"Pissed? About what?" I asked totally confused. "She hasn't even seen the dog yet."
"I'll tell you in a minute," he said as he got the dog out of the kennel.
"Nooo! Tell me now," I whined.
Grrr I didn't want to wait.
"She won't be back," he told me as he started to take the dog up to its owner.
"What!  Why!!" I sputtered.
As he disappeared through the grooming room door, he turned his head and whispered; "She is pissed about the price you charged her."


I had to wait for him to come back into the grooming room to hear the rest of the story.
But, I was in shock.
I had charged her the price I told her that the groom would be if she brought the dog back in 8 weeks, with no mats.
It was almost $20 dollars cheaper than when I groomed the dog in June.


I jumped right on my husband when he came back into the grooming room.
"What is going on? Why was she pissed? I charged what I told her it would be?" I shot the questions rapid fire.
My husband put his hand up to get me to stop so he could explain.
"She came in and put her credit card on the counter, and as I swiped her card I told her the price," he explained. "She immediately got pissed and said that she thought the price was going to be $30."
"What? Where in the world did she get $30 from?" I asked. 


I had written down on her file, after her last visit, exactly how much I had quoted her for the next groom.
It certainly was not for $30 dollars, especially when the cut was a comb/hand scissor cut.


"She said that she did not understand why she was charged more than $30 dollars," my husband continued. "She said that she would not be coming back and would go back to PetSm*rt."

Right before she walked out the door, she told my husband to tell me that I do really great work.....


?????

The last time I was in PetSm*rt, behind a customer that was paying for their Lhasa's grooming, the man paid $75.
I waited in my car to see the man come out, because I wanted to see what $75 bought him.
The dog looked nice, but it was nothing more than a #5 or #7 clip on the dog.
Not sure where she thinks she is going to find a PetSm*rt that charges $30 for a full hair cut.

I was so upset.
I really liked the dog.
She was very sweet, and her hair was great to scissor.

I guess money wins. :(
It is more important how much the grooming costs, instead of how nice the dog is treated and looks.  :`(

Oh well, I tried.
I'll keep on trying.

 ✂ Happy Grooming, MFF





Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Redicovering the ClipperVac

Hi everybody. :)
Sorry I have been away for a while, I am trying to get the writing bug back again.
So, today I am going to share a funny thing that happened.

Over 20 years ago I invested in a very large, 4 station ClipperVac unit.
It actually took me a couple of  years to pay it off.
I bought one, because I was having my first child and the baby was going to be at the shop.
I did not want any hair flying around the shop and getting on the baby.
It took a little getting used to, but I liked it.

We used that ClipperVac for years and burned through one motor.
My shop made a couple of moves and the Vac went with us.

When I downsized, 14 years ago, and went Mobile, I also had a ClipperVac Mini in my van.

As I said, I liked my ClipperVac.
I loved skimming with it, and it was great for really cleaning up legs on short cuts, and saving a lot of scissoring on those short shave downs.
I loved how it cleaned faces and feet, and kept the blades cool.

When my 'surprise' child came along, and I moved back into shop, the new shop was really too small for such a large ClipperVac unit, but I put it back up anyway.
Then we moved one last time, and I set it up again, but I was not using it as much.

I had bought new clippers at the time (Andis AG) and did not want to permanently glue the clippervac attachment to my new clipper. (That is what you used to have to do then with those clippers)
I had also bought a Wahl Arco cordless clipper that I really loved and could not use with the ClipperVac at the time.
So I slowly got away from using my ClipperVac.
It kind of became a glorified vacuum cleaner for my grooming table.

Once my daughter became a full time groomer, I needed more room in our groom room.
So I moved the large ClipperVac out.
I still don't have any room for that big ClipperVac to come back into the groom room, but I miss using it.

I have also recently checked out ClipperVacs website and have noticed that you no longer have to glue the attachment on your clipper.

What to do, what to do?

Well, believe it or not, I still have my van.
Yes, I still have it sitting in my driveway.

Up until this year I was still using the grooming van off and on for special needs dogs that I felt shouldn't come to a shop environment.
I know that I should sell it, but I just have not been able to let it go.
Plus, right now it needs some repairs.
We have the worst trouble with squirrels and mice getting into our engines and chewing hoses..grrrrr.

Anyway, I got the bright idea to take the mini ClipperVac out of my van and take it to work.
It does not take up much space and I can put it right by my table.

So that is what I did today.
I got it to the shop, set it up, and cleaned it up. (there were signs that mice had been all over the vac.
I turned it on and everything seemed okay....or so I thought.




I had to dig out my old pair of Oster A5 clippers, that still had the original clippervac attachment still on them.

They were so dusty, but they still work.

They are just slower than what I am used to now.




This was the little lady that I was going  to use the ClipperVac on first.

I used to hand scissor her very short, but the owner wanted me to take her as short as I could....shave her!

The owner even wanted me to shave her legs as close as I could get them.








So I got everything ready and started to clip.








This is how far I got when the ClipperVac just stopped running. :(








I asked my son to remove all the screws from the top of the ClipperVac so that I could check the brushes.
I thought that that might be the reason for the it suddenly shutting down.
There was also one other thing that I thought might possibly be stopping the ClipperVac from running.

Mice......

Well, it wasn't the brushes.



 There were no mice.

But, they had certainly been in the ClipperVac.

There was a massive nest smack dab on top of the motor!!

I am surprised that it ran at all.






There were even half eaten egg corns and corn kernels there in the motor.









My son cleaned everything out, and the ClipperVac was no worse for ware.






Of course, by the time all the cleaning was done I had already finished the dog.







  Yes, even though the owner wanted her shaved, this is the way she likes her head left. :)

She was my only short clip of the day.

Everyone else was hand scissored.

Tomorrow I will try to use the ClipperVac again.






I will also be buying new attachments for my current clippers. :)

I am looking forward to using the ClipperVac again for a lot of my grooming.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Answers for Holly

A fellow groomer had left some questions for me the other day, and I promised her that I would finally answer them tonight.

No ranting in this post. :)

Here are her questions:

1. Blades: How are you liking your wahl blades you bought a while ago? I have been using buttercut and know you are not a huge fan of them why? I recently have been slowly purchasing Andis Ultra Edge and feel it is not as smooth but it may just take some time.
2. Shears: What lengths/brand of shears do you use? (I was only given a 7.5" curve shear and a 46 tooth blender in my beginner kit) and now I am finally revamping my tools.
3. Clipper Vac: Have you ever used one? I just began using one and love it for comb blades and reverse cuts except when I use them with my blades, cutting with the grain it seems to leave lines, it could be my blades but when I cut without the clipper vac it leaves no lines. Any thoughts?
4. How are you liking your "Chunkers"?
5. When pulling out undercoat on a double coated breed have you ever used the marrs coat king or anything similar?
6. Hand Stripping: Do you know how? you probably do so do you advertise it. I have heard so many controversial things about shaving breeds that should be hand stripped (skin irritation, coat color/texture changing, etc.) vs. hand stripping is mean.
 


The answers that I will be giving to these questions are my opinion.
Other groomers may not agree, or may use, or like other tools.
Every groomer should use tools that are comfortable to them.
Another groomer may absolutely hate a brush, or blade, or clipper that I love.
That does not mean that either one of us is wrong in our thinking, we just like different things.
So, as you read my answers to these questions, keep an open mind.
Don't worry if I don't like something that you use, that's okay, if you like it, and it works for you, that is all that is important.


1. Blades: How are you liking your wahl blades you bought a while ago? 

I like them.... My daughter does not like them, and only uses them if she has to. I have noticed, that even though my daughter and I have the same exact make of clippers, that the blades do not cut the same on each clipper.
Sometimes when she borrows a blade from me, that is working just fine on my clipper, but it does not cut nice on her clipper. 
The same tends to happen when I borrow a blade from her.
I am sure that it has something to do with the way the blades were set after sharpening and the way the lever is wearing on the clipper.

I have to say, I bought those blades a few months ago and have not had to have them sharpened yet. (or course I only clip clean hair with them)
It's amazing, I have collected quite a number of blades over the years, Oster, Andis, and Wahl.
I have my favorites that cut just the way I want them....then I send them to the sharpener, and when they come back, one or two of those blades that I really liked to use regularly don't cut as nicely as they cut before, but others do.
I guess that it is all in the way they are sharpened.

Who knows, I may send these new Wahl blades out to be sharpened and not like them when they come back, and my daughter may love them.
It's crazy. 

  I have been using buttercut and know you are not a huge fan of them why?

I don't know.
Well, that 's not entirely true.  
For some reason my Buttercuts just don't cut right on either my clippers or my daughters.
They seem to glide over the top of the hair and not cut to the length they are supposed to.
I'll be honest, we just kind of tucked them away and haven't tried using them recently. 
Maybe I should send them out to be sharpened again (I changed sharpeners) and try them again when they come back. 

  I recently have been slowly purchasing Andis Ultra Edge and feel it is not as smooth but it may just take some time. 

You do tend to get used to the way certain blades cut.
There have been times when I have been using a blade and then I pick up another blade (the same brand and same number length) and the second blade seems to cut shorter and smoother than the first. 
The first blade was not dull, it just didn't cut as short as the second blade.
Of course that could be due to how far up the cutting blade was placed by the sharpener. 

Sometimes brand new blades need to be sharpened. 
I know....they are new, they should be sharp already, but they may cut smoother for you if you send them out to be sharpened.

Oh wait...try cleaning and oiling them first, if they still are not cutting right for you have them sharpened. 

 2. Shears: What lengths/brand of shears do you use? (I was only given a 7.5" curve shear and a 46 tooth blender in my beginner kit) and now I am finally revamping my tools.

I can tell you what I use, but shear are such a personal tool. 

I love using 10" shears.
I use them more than any other shears.
I like using 7.5", or 8.5" shear on faces and small dogs.
I also use both straight and curved shears.
I have so many scissors, I tend to buy one or two new ones a year.

I used to buy Monks, because they were so light.
A heavy shear would make my wrist hurt.
For a while they stopped making Monks and I started to buy Heritage shears.
They are a nice light weight shear without being overly expensive.  

It is just me, but I just can not bring myself to drop $200 or $300 on a pair of shears.
I am sure that they are wonderful to cut with, but I would brake down and cry if a dog knocked them out of my hand and they hit the floor. 
I bought a $100 pair of shears once because a fellow groomer raved about them.
I have used them twice...I don't like them. 

I like the Heritage Stiletto and the Sure Grip "88".
I have them in the 8.5" and 10" curved and straight.
Here is a link to where I buy mine if anyone is interested in checking them out:

 3. Clipper Vac: Have you ever used one? I just began using one and love it for comb blades and reverse cuts except when I use them with my blades, cutting with the grain it seems to leave lines, it could be my blades but when I cut without the clipper vac it leaves no lines. Any thoughts?

Funny you should ask about the Clipper Vac.
I used a Clipper Vac for 20 years.
I first bought one when my daughter was born to keep hair down in the shop.
I didn't want my baby around all of that hair.
I really liked the Clipper Vac.

So, why did I stop using it?

I stopped when I started using my cordless clipper.
At the time Clipper Vac did not have a attachment for the Moser, and I loved the way the 5in1 blades cut faces and feet.
I also started using a Andis clipper, and back then, you used to have to glue the Clipper Vac attachment to the clipper...I didn't like that at all.
So I slowly got away from using the Clipper Vac. 

I found out that they now have an attachment for the Bravura cordless clipper.
You also no longer have to glue the attachment to my Andis clippers.
So I have been planning on replacing some parts and using it again.

As for clipping dogs with the Clipper Vac, I found that when using the #4f, #5f, or #7f with the grain, the best way to get a nice smooth clip was to keep the regulator hole wide open while clipping.
Also, do not clip in long strokes.
Clip in short overlapping strokes.
I hope that that makes sense.

I have also read that a lot of groomers use the Clipper Vac against the grain.
They will use a #4f against the grain to get a #5f clip.
I have to admit that I have never tried that. 

 4. How are you liking your "Chunkers"?

Mmmmmmm.
I have only used them twice.
Does that answer your question? lol

I don't know, the ones that I bought just seem way too aggressive. 
I think that they leave a too choppy finish.
I like a crisp, sharp finish on my dogs.
As I said before, it  is all in the preference of the groomer.
I will probably use them again, just not as often as I thought that I would.

 5. When pulling out undercoat on a double coated breed have you ever used the marrs coat king or anything similar?

I use my Mars Coat King quite a lot.
I used it twice today.
I use it more for thinning a coat out than for removing undercoat.

As I said I used it today on a Pom and a CollieX.
But, I didn't use it until I already had all of the undercoat that I could get out out. 
Because the Mars Coat Kings are a number of  small curved blades, I don't like using it to remove undercoat, or mats.  
I want to remove the entire undercoat not cut it.
As for mats, I worry that the skin could be pulled into the blades, along with the mats, and cut the skin.

 


I like to remove most of the undercoat with the HV dryer.

Whatever undercoat is left after bathing and drying I get with my slicker brush, mat brush, or comb.



 

 Once all of the undercoat has been removed, I use the Mars Coat King to thin out areas where my comb is not gliding smoothly through the hair, like the main, the hips, or the rear feathering.

It also helps to thin out these areas. 



 




This is what the Poms coat looked like after using the Coat King.








 6. Hand Stripping: Do you know how? you probably do so do you advertise it. I have heard so many controversial things about shaving breeds that should be hand stripped (skin irritation, coat color/texture changing, etc.) vs. hand stripping is mean.

Yes, I know how.
I am in no way an expert on the subject.

No, I don't advertize it, or offer it.
It is very time consuming and hard on my hands.
I don't seem to be able to use the hand stripping tools right. (maybe it is because I am left handed)
I also prefer stripping with my fingers and not tools.

I hand stripped my TerrierX until she was about 16 then it was too much for her.
When you hand strip a coat it does leave a beautiful finish and the coat is different.

I have found, over the years, most pet owners don't want to pay the price for hand stripping, (the cost of hand stripping should be considerably higher than clipping) or have the patience to wait for the right time for the coat to be stripped.
I very rarely ever have anyone ask me about hand stripping.

I will admit, I have a long time customer that have just gotten a Welsh puppy.
He has a gorgeous coat, and I have already done a little stripping on him. :/

I have to say, that I have clipped a lot of dogs whose coats could have been hand stripped if the owners had wanted, and have never seen any skin problems because of clipping.
Yes, clipping does change the texture and sometimes the color of the coat on some dogs.

I hope my answers helped. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF