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, April 29, 2014

Many Colored Mohawks

I have a Cocker that I have been grooming for many years now.
His owners love for him to have a mohawk.
They especially love to have it colored every time he is groomed.
I don't take pictures every time, but I have taken a few.
He is getting older now, but his owners still love his colorful mohawks, and he loves all of the attention that he gets.  :)

Enjoy!

 Purple for the Baltimore Raven






Green for St. Patrick's Day


 Blue for the NY Yankees (his owners are fans)
 

For Halloween
 




For Christmas


For the Memorial Day



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ears Make Me Cry.....

.....well... not really, but they do make me whine sometimes.

Now, you would think, after so many years of grooming, after trimming thousands of ears, that I would have some magic way to trim ears so they come out perfectly with the first snip every time.

I haven't!

Oh, I have tried different things over the years, and they have worked....on some dogs, but not all.
So, I do whatever works for the type of ears I am working on.






 I had a little Shih-tzu in the other day whose owner wanted the long ears taken fairly short.

I thought that this would be a good dog to show the different ways that I have trimmed ears.

I will start by taking a little bit of hair off at a time, in different ways, and work my way up the ear.








The first way I will show is a tip that I read about from another groomer.
I was very eager to try this trick, because the groomer swore that it worked every time to get a nice even cut on the ear.


The tip was to twist the hair on the end of the ear and snip off the bottom.
Seemed simple enough, right?
(needless to say, make sure that the ear leather is not twisted)










So, I twist the hair from back to front.











I snip the end off.







Comb the ear out.

Nope....uneven.










Lets try twisting from front to back.







Snip again.

Oh, this looks promising.








Wow, maybe it worked this time.

Lets comb the ear out.




 Nope.

Maybe it is just me.

Is it okay to start whining now?








Lets try another way.

Comb the ear, put the ear between two fingers and slide my fingers down to where I want to cut.







 I cut nice and straight across the bottom...and let go of the ear.







Nope. (palm to forehead)

Have you ever noticed that it is always that little bit of hair at the back of the ear.




So, I have tried to flip over the ear and trim again to even it up.

But, that does not always work.





So, I try holding up the front of the ear, letting the back of the ear hair hang down and then try to even it up again.

But, that does not always work either.

(about now she is wondering why I keep sticking the camera in her face)










Goodie goodie, it seemed to have worked this time.






There is only one problem....I was supposed to take the ear shorter than this.

(bang my head on the table a couple of times)








Oh, there is one other problem.


She has two ears.

I have to go through that all over again.







So, I'll trim this ear the normal way I usually trim ears.

I'll slide my fingers down to where I want to trim.







I cut straight across.






Let go and comb.

There's the good ol' pain in my side.

That small amount of hair at the back of the ear that likes to drive me insane.




The best way that I have found to deal with that stinkin' little piece of uneven hair?

*Comb the ear.
*Lift the dogs chin so that the head is tilted back a little.
*Don't touch the ears with anything besides my scissors.
*Carefully snip off the offending hair.






Tada!

A nice even ear.



Oh no, another problem.....





They are not even!

One is longer than the other!

I have to scissor that nice even ear again!

You know what?

I think that it IS time to cry.








Okay, let me see if they are even now.

Please hold your head up straight little one.









No, no, you tilted it too far.

Back the other way just  a little.









Okay, now you are just playing with me.


Maybe I should stop making squeaky noises.







There you go.

They still need some work.

Just a little bit more.

Then I put her away to wait to be picked up.









Oh, and I pray, that when I go to get her out to give to her owner, that there will not be a long piece of hair mysteriously hanging off the back of one of her ears.

Every groomer out there know exactly what I am talking about.

Don't say that you don't.

Don't tell me that you haven't finished a dog, and then later walked past that same dog waiting in the kennel, and saw that stray, long piece of hair hanging off the the back of the ear, and you know darn well that it was not there when you put that dog away!!!!! 

Oh, the fun of grooming.

Never a dull moment!  :)



Sunday, April 20, 2014

One Really Crazy Day!

Today was one of those days that you just wanted to wake up in the middle of it and realize that you were only dreaming.

Lately I have been working on keeping a positive attitude.
I had found that since my Mother died I have been having a rough time keeping a happy attitude.
I have been working really hard at not letting anger take over from issues with my Step-Father.
Or, let the sadness of losing a wonderful Father-in-law so suddenly overwhelm me.

All of these things had built up into one unhappy person.
I do not want to be an unhappy person.
It effects me at work and at home.
The last thing I want is for it to effect me at work, working around dogs that pick up on all of your feelings.

So, I have been listening to an audiobook while drying dogs.
It is 'The Secret'.
I have been listening to comedians on the way to work, Bill Cosby, Robbin Williams, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGenres to name a few.
I have stopped reading some of the facebook grooming groups that are full of angry groomers ranting about dogs and their customers, or worst of all being nasty to each other.
I am only reading groups that have good stories and don't allow groomers to be nasty to each other.

I have been working to get back and keep a happy, positive attitude.
An attitude that will help me get through tough days....like today.
I have to say, I truly think that everything that I have been doing is helping, because I didn't lose it today.
I didn't get upset.
I didn't get angry.
I didn't let rudeness bother me.


If you want to hang around for a few more minutes to read my ramblings, I will tell you about my day.


It started out pretty good.
The first two Shih-tzus showed up on time.
My daughter had an elderly dog do in by 9am.

We were actually surprised when the owner of the elderly dog called for an appointment.
We were surprised because we had not heard from her in 7 months, and honestly thought that her 17 year old dog had passed away.
My daughter was a little worried about grooming her, and about what kind of condition the dog was going to be in after not being groomed in 7 months.

Jess was just finishing up her Shih-Tzu when the elderly dog showed up.
The dog was very overgrown, but surprisingly not too matted.
My son put the dog straight into the tub to start bathing her till my daughter could come take over.
The dog was in the tub less than two minutes when my son turned to say that the dog had gone limp.
He said it so calmly that my first thought was that the dog was just doing what some elderly dogs do in the tub, they relax so much from the warm water that they lay down.

No.....my sons next words were; "I need someone now! This is serious!"

For lack of a better description, the dog had passed out.
My son thought that the dog had died.
He had picked her up and she was limp as a noodle.
Before any CPR could have been started she came alert again.

My daughter wrapped her in a towel and put her on the grooming table.
By now the dog seemed to be fully alert and was standing on her own.
I had to search through all the over grown hair on her face to find her eyes.
I needed to see her eyes.
Her eyes were sunken and so white from the cataracts that had totally taken over.

Jess and I where drying the hair that had gotten wet from her short time in the tub, and my husband was on the phone calling the owner to come right back and pick her dog up.

The owner was not happy.

She wanted the dog groomed.
She told my husband that she had just woke the dog up right before she dropped it off, and that the dog probably fell over because she was not totally awake yet.

Seven months and now this dog had to have a grooming....right now.....really?!

I am ashamed to say that I actually thought about trying to groom the dog.
The poor thing did need a grooming.
Instead I stood my ground.
We told the owner that she needed to have the dog groomed at her Vet's.
I also offered to groom the dog at my Vet's office if we shared the same Vet.

The owner was not happy.
I didn't care....I was not going to have a dog pass away on my time.
I don't care if the owner told me that "it was okay if she passed while being groomed, she has to go sometime."

The owner did come right back.
I trimmed the hair away from the dogs eyes before she left.
The owner seemed to have come around to our way of thinking by the time she picked up her dog.
I do hope that she takes it to a Vet, with a groomer on staff, so that it can be supervised while being groomed.

I was happy that the dog was fine when it went home.
I was very proud of the way my daughter and son handled the situation.
I was happy that everything ended well.

Next was my rude customer and her rude friend.

This particular customer does not care what, or how she says things to you.
You have ignore most of what she says, or you would end up knocking her out.
I have no desire to knock a customer out no matter how much the may deserve it.

This customer is disabled.
So, when she drops off and picks up the dogs we go out to the car and get the dogs.
We do this for several of our customers.
The only problem is, we must be there the second this arrives.
She will peep the horn or ring the phone if we are not outside right away.

Well, today everyone was busy doing something when she pulled up.
My husband, who usually goes out to wait on her, was on the phone with another customer.
My daughter was grooming a dog.
My oldest son was bathing a dog.
My youngest son was watching my groom dog on my table while I was waiting on a customer in the lobby.

This particular day, my disabled customer had a friend with her.
My husband had gone to the door and motioned that he would be out after he got off of the phone.
Minutes later, as I was waiting on the customer in the lobby, the friend of my disabled customer opened my lobby door and stuck her head in, "Mrs. ----- is waiting for someone to come get her dogs."
I looked at the woman with her head stuck in my door, smiled and said, "My husband will be out the second he gets off of the phone."
At the same time I was thinking, 'Why in the world can't you bring the dogs in?'
She went back out to the car, I went back to talking to the other customer.

The customer in my lobby had two dogs, I was holding one while talking to her about her dogs.
My lobby door opened again and in came the disabled customers friend with one of the dogs.
She walked right past the customer I was talking to and shoved the dogs leash at me saying; "Here, I brought this one in, I'll go get the other so you don't have to come out."
Smiling, I ignored the leash that she was shoving at me and said; "I'll take her as soon as I finish waiting on this customer."

Now I have to stop here and say that I was not angry at this blatant display of rudeness.
I really meant my smile.
I was finding the whole situation hilarious.
I was not annoyed, or stressed, or angry.
I was disbelieving.
How can someone be so rude.
She didn't see me standing there holding a dog, talking to someone else?

So, the friend stood there and waited while I took the other customers dog back.
She waited while I went back and got the second dog of the other customer.
Then I came back into the lobby for the disabled customers dog.
The friend handed me the dog.
The dog had walked over to the lobby door.
The dog was on a retractable leash. (hate those leashes)
I walked to the door to get the dog only to have the 'friend' push past me to go out the door to get the other dog.
As she started to open the door the dog is ready to bolt.
I quickly reach and grab the dog just as the 'friend' opens the lobby door.

I will admit that annoyance was trying really hard to take over my happy attitude.
Once again I just shook my head, told the dog how rude I thought her owners friend was and then let it go.
It really felt good to let it go.
To laugh about it.
To actually feel good that I was able to laugh about the situation, laugh about the woman's rudeness, and not stew about it for the rest of the day.



Tap.   Tap.   Tap.




Still there?




I am almost done.


I promise. :)

My last situation of the day took a little more work to keep a good attitude.
This particular customer I have been grooming for for a while.
I like this customer.
She is a nice lady.

A little back story....
I normally groom both of this customers dogs.
The last time that her dogs were in was the day my husbands father passed.
Needless to say, it was a crazy day.
I got backed up with my grooms and my daughter groomed one of the dogs.

For the most part my daughter and I groom the same way, but as with any artist....yes grooming is and art.....there are small things each groomer does a little differently.
Also, even though we write down how we groom each dog, each time they come in there are little things that I do with a coat, or scissor on a coat that I don't always write down.
Especially on a dog the I solely groom.

Well, this owner seemed to notice that the dog was not scissored exactly the way it usually was.
So, a few weeks after the last groom she called, because she just could not let the 'horrible' groom go without calling to let us know about how displeased she was.

Fast forward to today.
When this customer came in to drop off, I made a point to be the one to wait on her.
Now, she had already called to let us know about the 'horrible' groom last time.
We had apologized.
Would she bring it up again?

You bet your sweet tushy she did.

I didn't even make it to the counter before she started telling me how she has always been pleased with the grooms, but the last time was horrible, so bad she just had to call to let us know.
That the groom had been so bad that she thought she was going to have to find another groomer, but she really liked and trusted us and did not want to do that.
She went on to tell me that the dog was so ashamed of her hair cut that she would go into her kennel and hide.
That the dog now had large clumps of hair coming out of her coat.
No, it was not because she was starting to blow her undercoat for summer, it was because of the 'horrible' last grooming.

What was the 'horrible' groom done on this customers dog?
A bath and trim.
Jess did not take the rear and chest as short as I normally do.

I am only describing a fraction of what the customer said to me.
I will admit that the thing that bothered me the most was the comment about not returning and finding another groomer.
Apparently the groom must be absolutely perfect each time, or I deserve to get the boot.
I am not allowed a bad day.

I understand wanting to get what you paid for.
I understand wanting to have your dog groomed a certain way.
But, after grooming a customers dogs for so long, you would hope that there would be a little bit understanding if one of the groomings was not up to par.

Well, I guess you could say that she came back.

So, did I keep a good attitude after talking to this customer?
Actually I did.
As I said before, I do like this lady.
She also has the incredible talent of being able to complain and compliment you all in the same sentence.
Every complaint was followed by a compliment, every compliment was followed by a complaint.

No, I did not get mad.
I did not get annoyed.
I also did not let her complaining bother me.
I did feel bad that I hadn't taken the extra few minutes to check the dog after my daughter was finished her.
If I had, I could have told her to go a little shorter with the trimming and the customer would have had nothing to complain about.

I am going to keep listening to the audiobook, and to the comedians.
I am going to keep the happy, good attitude.
It feels so much better than being upset, or angry, or annoyed, or unhappy.


If you are still with me....I ended my day by grooming one of my dogs and adding some Easter color to her.(she hates when I take her picture. lol)






Happy Easter everyone!!  :)




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just Can't Do It....

I don't know how to say this without sounding conceited, so I guess I will just say it....

Sometimes I actually wish that I did not groom as good as I do.

Oh boy, that sounded even worse typing it out.  :p

Let's see if I can say this a different way.....Sometimes I wish that I could give a dog the haircut that I know the dogs owner deserves.
There that sounds better.

So, what exactly do I mean by that?

I mean, that there are times that pet owners bring me dogs that have not been groomed in a long time.
The poor dog is very over grown, and matted.
Almost without fail these owners do not want you to shave their dogs.
Some like to pretend that the dog isn't even matted.
Some like to turn it on the groomer and say that we are professionals and should know how to remove all the mats and keep the dog long.
In other words, pull out that magic wand, wave it over the dog and make their dog fluffy and mat free.

Now, here in lies my problem.
I very rarely ever have to 'shave' a dog. (shave to me is using a #7F, #10, or #15 on the body and legs)
No matter how matted a dog is I am usually able to get at least a #5F between the mats and skin.
Of course using a #4F or #5F is considered 'shaved' to some pet owners.

I always try to leave a matted coat as long as I can. (unless the pet owner does want the dog shave as short as possible)

So, where am I going with all of this rambling?


I had a dog in the other day.



 He had last been in the beginning of November 2013.

He had another appointment scheduled for January.

Needless to say, the owner canceled that appointment saying that she would wait, because it was too cold for a haircut.






It was recommended to the owner to still bring the dog in and get a bath and tidy to help maintain the coat and clear out the eyes and private areas.

I owner refused and said that they would wait.

We knew that five and a half months was way too long for the dog to go between groomings.

What can you do?

We try to educate.

As we expected, the dog was pretty matted all over.



Yes, my brain was saying 'teach this owner a lesson and take the dog down very short'.


There was only one problem..... after feeling and examining the coat when the dog came in, I knew that after bathing and HV drying, all of that matting was going to loosen up enough to most likely get a #4F or #3/4 blade through the coat.
That would still be a short length for this owner, but most likely would not teach this owner to bring the dog in more often.

I know that there are groomers out there that would say I should just go ahead and shave the dog with a #10 to teach the owner not too wait so long between groomings.
The problem is, I don't think that that teaches pet owners anything but that the groomer shaved their dog naked, and they won't take the dog back again until they absolutely have to, i.e. dog matted again.

The other problem is.....I just can't bring myself to shave a dog naked when I know that I can save some of the coat and don't have to shave it.

Maybe it comes from all those years of not knowing how to say 'no' when pet owners begged me to demat their dogs, or leave them as long as possible.
I spent a long time finding ways to save faces, legs, ears, and tails.










 As I guessed, the mats in this dogs coat loosened up quite a bit after the bath and HV dry.







 I was able to get the 3/4 blade under most of the matting on the body.






The legs were a different story.

I did not want to use a shorter blade on the legs after I had been able to get the 3/4 blade through the body.

So I scissored the legs down to half of the hair off.










After the mats were cut in half, it took less than a minute to brush the leg out....








....run the 3/4 blade over the leg and scissor to finish.






(Before the bath)

The face was also pretty matted.




(after the bath)



The bath and HV dry also loosened up the matting on the head and face, but....








...it was still pretty matted.









So, I did the same with the head and face.








I scissored the face as though I was doing the finish work, cutting the mats in half.









Then I brushed the head and face out.

Again, this only took a minute or two.

It did help that his coat was very forgiving.

And, that he didn't mind being brushed.









So, he still gets his cute face that the owner likes....even after five and a half months.







I know he felt much better with all of those mats off.

I am glad that I was able to leave him on the longer side.

I'll just have to keep trying to educate the owner about grooming the dog in the winter months.