"Good Luck" is not what a groomer wants to hear right before they take a dog back to be groomed.
That is what was said to me this past Saturday....several times.
Let me start at the beginning.....
We had a return customer on the books who had also added another new dog the appointment.
The return customer came in carrying her sweet, very hyper little dog.
Behind her followed two young ladies with a very matted Shih-tzu that trailed behind them on a leash.
After taking the returning customers dog in, I turned my attention to the Shih-tzu.
Cautionary vibes were already coming off of this dog.
"He is a mess," they told me. "He does not like to be groomed."
"He was cut really bad when he was a puppy during his first hair cut."
"As he ever bitten another groomer?" I asked.
"He doesn't bite." "He has had bad experiences." "No." All three gave a different answer at the same time.
I came around the counter towards the dog.
As I took the leash from one of the young ladies, they all started to back up away from the dog.
Certainly not a good sign.
As I bent over to pick up the dog, I pulled the leash towards me to help keep his head from swinging around if he tried to bite.
My hand was within two inches of his body when he lunged.
I heard all three young ladies gasp.
I kept his head towards me, quickly slid my hand under his belly and scooped him up before he knew what was happening.
I tucked him under my arm and pressed him tight to my body.
The young ladies were still standing back.
The Shih-tzu struggled for less than a minute then settled into my body.
I guess sometimes it pays to be on the soft plumpy side.
Don't get me wrong, he certainly was not accepting his fate.
I could feel every tensed up bone in his body.
He was more than ready to defend himself if he felt threatened.
This Shih-tzu was 6 years old, and it was my guess that that was about how many times this dog had ever been groomed in his life, maybe less.
They knew he had to be shaved and they wanted him shaved....everything off.
I told them that I would work with him and do what he would let me do.
I told them that I would most likely not try to use a muzzle because of his short face.
"The last groomer tried to put a muzzle on him and was really mean about it." one of the young ladies informed me.
My only answer to that was; "He needs someone to take their time with him and work with him."
I ignored the comment."I'll do what he lets me do. I won't force it."
"Good luck..." one of the young ladies said again.
"He is letting her hold him," another said.
"I will call you when they are ready to go home," I told them, turning to go back behind the counter.
They all started to walk out of the shop.
"Good luck...." I heard one of them say as they walked out the door.
Multiple "Good lucks".....what was I in for?
This little matted Shih-tzu was scared out of his mind.
Had anyone ever taken the time to work with him?
Some of his mats were very bad and tight.
He was so dirty and smelled so bad.
I put him right into the tub.
His belly and the mats in between his back legs were very tight and soaked in urine.
Oh, did I mention that he is not neutered?
The bath took a little while.
Not surprisingly he freaked when I turned the water on.
I set the water on low and just let it run over his back till his brain realized that the water was not hurting him and actually felt good.
The water coming off of him was dark brown.
He was pretty good about letting me soap up his body and legs.
I think it felt good to him to have his legs messaged.
The face was another matter.
That took some time.
I would get him to trust me a little, then he would suddenly freak out again.
Normally I would wash the face at least twice (three times for a really dirty, smelly face), but I felt that more than one washing would be pushing it.
He only pulled away twice while rinsing his face, and I was proud of him for that.
This is how I dried him.
He was holding on tight to my shoulder.
I am not saying that it was the smartest thing that I have ever done.
He had tried to bite a few times in the tub.
Letting him rest on the shoulder was awful close to my face in case he tried to bite again.
Never said I was the smartest cookie in the box.
Letting him hug against me for the entire drying process seemed to do the trick.
He was still very scared but never tried to bite.
I just got lucky, right?
Maybe all of those 'Good lucks" were working. lol
I am not even sure how to describe this little Shih-tzu's reaction to the clippers.
Freak out is not strong enough of description.
This dog is 6 years old.
He should not be that terrified of a clipper.
What the heck had someone done to him?
I treated him like a new puppy being groomed for the first time.
I let him smell the clipper.
I turned it on and held it next to him till he relaxed.
Then I put the body of the clipper against him, letting him get used to the vibration.
He tried to run, but I slowly followed till he stood still and realized that the vibrating monster was not going to eat him.
Once he accepted the clippers on his body he did pretty good letting me clip the body.
He also let me clip his front legs, although he did freak a couple of times and lunged for my face twice.
It actually turned out that he was more talk than action.
He had an opportunity to nail me once when I did not move my hand fast enough.
Teeth touched my skin but he did not even try to draw blood.
All his fusing and snapping seemed to be a scare tactic of his.
He did not want me to do something, or was scared of something so he snapped, but did not really want to bite. (if that makes any sense)
I think that he has gotten so used to people backing off when he snaps that he used snapping as a way to get people to leave him alone.
The mat around one of his back legs was so tight.
This mat was wrapped all of the way around the leg and was starting to cut off the legs circulation.
He was so good letting me clip this mat off.
I really think that he knew I was trying to help him.
For a little while I was afraid that I was going to have to send this dog home without grooming the head and face.
He wanted absolutely nothing to do with me scissoring around his eyes and head.
So I spent a while massaging his head and face.
At first he would cringe as I rubbed his cheeks and head.
He once again lunged for my face when I tried to rub my fingers under his eyes.
I didn't stop, I just kept rubbing and softly talking to him.
Eventually he started to relax.
I continued to rub and then sneak a snip of the scissors.
Rub, snip, rub, snip.
The face wasn't pretty.
It was actually pretty choppy.
I could not get any closer to the eyes.
I was proud of him though.
I was kind of proud of myself for getting any of his face done. lol
He even let me do a little more scissoring after this picture to shape up that beard more.
I didn't push it around the eyes, or the top of the head.
Do you notice anything different about this dog?
He is the first dog I ever remember seeing in person that had a split nose.
I am sure that there is a technical name for this, but I don't know what it is.
I assume that it is considered a birth defect.
Anyway, I got a #7F through him.
I did not shave everything off like the owners wanted, because there was absolutely no way I was going to get a clipper anywhere near his head and face.
I was not about to force it.
I want him to trust me, not be scared of me and the grooming.
I practically begged the owners to bring him back to me again for regular groomings so that I could continue to work with him.
They were extremely happy with his groom and they did make another appointment for May....I hope that they keep it.
It is so rewarding when you can get such a petrified dog to trust you, even if only a little bit.
I really hope that I see him again. :)