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.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back to Work

Home from vacation!

Our only week long vacation of the year, and it was great, although not the least bit physically relaxing, it was mentally relaxing.

We were on the move all of the time.

Wildwood N.J

We have been going to Wildwood for over 35 years.

A nice family oriented beach town.

 Nice weather, even though a couple of days you felt like you were melting, even with the sea breeze.

Ooooh, if only I had money to have a second home at the Beach. :)

We park the car when we get there and walk everywhere the whole week.

The best exercise I get all year.

See what I mean about mentally relaxing?

Our last day tradition.....to feed the Sandpipers and Sea-gales all of the bread we have collected all week from all of our meals.

Then we got home, and guess what was waiting on the top of a pile of week long mail?

The program for Groom Expo in Hershey!

I think that this is the earliest I have ever gotten it.
I stated looking through it right away.

There are two new contests this year.
Rescue Round-up and Abstract Creative Runway.

I just registered for both of them!

The Rescue Round-up.
I asked Sally about doing a contest like this about 7 years ago, but she said that there were too many insurance issues to worry about to do it.
Imagine my surprise when I saw this contest in the program.

Several Rescue organizations will be bring dogs to be groomed.
Barkleigh will be making a donation for each dog groomed.
Show attendees can also make donations to help towards adoption fees for the dogs that they like.
I think it is great!
I can't wait.

I went on line to register for the contests and noticed that the Rescue Round-up was limited to the first 15 groomers that signed up.
I called right away to see if any spots were left.
I was sure that I missed the opportunity.
I wasn't exactly sure when the programs had been mailed since I was gone all last week.

There were 2 spots left!
I registered right there and then.

I am so excited.
Can you tell that I am excited?

To groom rescue dogs and help them find new forever homes.
It makes me tear up as I am typing this.
I have offered to do some free grooms for a couple of the shelters around me, but so far they already have groomers that help them.

I also worry about myself, because I know me, and I know that I would want to give them all forever homes. :p

As for the Abstract Creative Runway.
I have seen pictures of this contest from other Grooming Shows, and have always loved the abstract designs.
The rules are not up yet, but I went ahead and entered anyway.
I already have an abstract design in mind. :)

Well, I better get back to answering all the comments that built up while I was gone.
If you left a comment or a question last week, I am getting to them as fast as I can. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


This past weekend was crazy.

This week will be more of the same.

We close the shop for vacation next week, and the week before is always crazy.

So is the week after for that matter.

We always seem to pay big time for taking time off, but I need a vacation.

Last week I had a couple of Pomeranian owners e-mail me about grooming their Pomeranians.
I told them that I would be grooming my girl this past Saturday and would make video.

Of course when I wrote them back I forgot all about this past Sunday being my sons 18th Birthday.
Where has 18 years gone?
I still remember him scooting around the shop in  his walker.
Yep, that was when the walkers still had wheels.

Boy, I feel old. :/

So anyway, Sunday was his day, dinner and a movie....after my usual running errands.
No working on the video Sunday.

Monday was putting a new floor down and new toilet in our guest bathroom.
Got a little work done on the video.

Finished the video and am waiting for it to upload as I type.

I used my Pom for the video.
She has allergy problems with her skin so she has been getting bathed weekly.
She missed a bath, so she looked pretty tacky for the video.
Because she has been bathed so often lately, she does not have very much undercoat right now, but I thought that she would still make a good video.

I don't normally recommend that owners bathe their dogs without brushing them, but the Pomeranian owners that contacted me had Poms just like mine...they HATE to be brushed.
They were both having a hard time finding a groomer who didn't want to shave their dogs.

I know that there are owners out there that do a great job in my Self-Serve bathing and HV drying their  double coated dogs.
I have helped many of them by showing them what shampoo to use, how to use it, and how to HV the undercoat out of the dog.
Hopefully this video will help some Pomeranian owners who wish to groom their own dogs.

I would say that more than half of my Pomeranian customers hate being brushed.
I mean really hate being brushed!
Bite and scream hate being brushed.

By grooming them the way I show in the video, it has made their grooming much more pleasant, with minimal brushing.
Oh...much less screaming and biting too. :)
Here is the link to the video.

I will be getting around to answering comments tomorrow....I hope....I am really behind. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Am I superstitious?

Well, I have been known to knock on wood a lot. :)

Most of the time Friday the 13th passes by without me really thinking about it.
I am usually too busy at work to think about it..except for today.

Just a few things made me think about it today.

My first two dogs this morning were 30 minutes late.
Not that big of a deal, except for the fact that they are two really big Cockers that normally get hand scissored all over....and they had to skip their last appointment.

They were one long, thick, hairy mess.

As I was HVing the first Cocker, my husband came in to tell me that a cat had come in to have its nails clipped and brushed out.

I love this cat.

He is the sweetest thing.

Just touch him and the butt goes up in the air and he is rubbing all over you.

What happened next was totally my fault.

I am proud of the fact that I have a good amount of common sense.

I am usually pretty good about using it too, especially when grooming.

Not today.

As I walked over to my grooming table, to get the cat out of his carrier, I remember thinking that I should tell my daughter to turn off the HV dryer that she was using to dry a dog on her table.

I thought it, but I didn't tell her.

I unzipped the carrier and my little orange friend immediately started rubbing all over my hand.
I reached in and picked him up out of the carrier.
I had just lifted him high enough to clear the carrier when the sound of the dryer changed as my daughter moved the hose around the dog.

It made that loud swooshing sound.

The cat freaked.
He flipped in mid air and used my face as a push off point to dive back into the carrier.

Was it my stupidity, or Friday the 13th that caused me to have a inch long scratch across my cheek, two scratches under my lip, a two and a half inch scratch on my chin, and a puncture on my jaw?

Yep, I was stupid, but I am going to blame Friday the 13th anyway.

What next?

Oh ya, the Self-Serve.

The Self-Serve dog that barked the second he got in the tub, and continued to bark the entire time his owner washed him.

I was still grooming the same big Cocker when my husband came and told me that the Self-Serve wanted the dogs nails clipped.

A great big overweight Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

A very spunky, happy, hyper, Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

When I clip nails in the Self-Serve, I tell the owner that they can stay and pet the dogs head.
This owner walked away.

The dog was like, 'were the heck are you going? I am coming to!'

He tried to get out of the tub.
I tried to push him back...and tried...and tried... and....


That dog popped the eye hook that the grooming loop was attached to right out of the concrete wall!

There was no holding him in the tub.

The owner just stood there and watched me struggle till I asked him for help.

So I clipped the  dogs nails while he was on the floor.
While he was on the floor moving around, wiggling, beating me with his tail, and licking my glasses off my scratched up face.
All the while that the granddaughter was telling me that I was hurting the dog.

Yep........Friday the 13th!

Lets see, was there something else?

Of course.

My husband brings the last appointment of the day in.

"She wants you to keep doing what you have been doing to her teeth," he said. " She said her teeth smell better after she is groomed."
"What have you been doing to her teeth?" 

My daughter and I just looked at him.

"What in the world are you talking about?" I said to my husband. "I don't do anything to that dogs teeth."
"That woman drives me crazy." I continued. "I don't know what she thinks she has been smelling, but it is probably just the dogs clean face."

This poor dog has so much tarter on its teeth you can barely see any white tooth anymore.
I know that I have told her she needs to have the dogs teeth cleaned.
They just don't listen.

As for her thinking that I do something to make the teeth smell better...........

....................It's Friday the 13th!

Only two more hours till the 14th. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Groomers Simple Pleasure....

....A Poodle that does not constantly pull his/her feet away while you are trying to shave them. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What Would You Do? Poodle face

Today I had a Toy Poodle in that I have been grooming for a few years.
She is very sweet and shy.
Her owner is a sweet elderly lady who has been sick lately.
My husband picks up the Poodle and another dog that also lives at the same Assisted Living home.

Today when my husband picked the dogs up, the owner with the with the Maltese mix was reminding my husband that she likes the face very short.

"Yes, take her face short too," the woman with the Toy Poodle interrupted. "It was left too hairy the last time."
The only thing was, this woman was not the owner of the Poodle.
My husband had never seen her before.

When my husband got back with the dogs, he relayed the instructions to me.

"Well, I won't be taking the Poodles face any shorter than I already do," I told my husband.
"She said she wanted it shorter," he told me. "She said that it was too furry last time."
"She who?" I asked. "She wasn't the owner, right? The owner has always been happy with the face."
"I will not take that Poodles face any shorter," I told my husband. "If I take that dogs face any shorter we will be getting a call back about the dog having clipper irritation."

This Toy Poodle gets a clean shaven face.

I made the decision when I first started grooming her to clip her face with the combination of a #10 blade with the grain, and a #7F blade against the grain.


Because I know that this Poodles skin could not take being shaved too close.

I lost a very good customer awhile back, because I continued to shave her face against the grain (for the owner) even though I knew that she had gotten too old, and her skin was changing and getting thinner.
Every time I clipped her face I worried that her face would become irritated even though it had never happened before.

Finally, after a regular grooming, it happened.
After all of those years of grooming, those owners never came back.
They never returned my phone calls.
They thought that I hurt their dog.
All those years of good care and service meant nothing.
I can't tell you how hurt I was and how it still bothers me to this day, eight years later.

Pathetic, I know.

My own white Standard can no longer handle having her face shaved against the grain.
I love her face shaved against the grain.
Almost every time I do shave it against the grain lately, no matter how careful I am, no matter how long I let her face soak in Medicated shampoo, she gets irritation somewhere on her face.

So, what would you do?

Shave it shorter anyway, because that is what you were told to do?
Or stick to your guns because you know what would happen?

What did I do?

I think that you probably know.

For one thing it wasn't the owner telling me what to do.
For another thing I will not do something to a dog that, I even slightly, think will hurt it.

Under her eyes gets scooped out, lightly, with the #10 blade against the grain.

The nose and muzzle get shaved with the # 10 blade, with the grain, and a light touch.

The neck and cheeks get clipped with the #7F blade against the grain.

See how pink she is?

I think that her face is more than short enough.

 It is obviously not a nice smooth clean face that we like to do on Poodles, but it is good enough.

So far she has not had any problems with clipper irritation.

I am going to try to keep it that way.

Whenever you are standing there wondering what to do.

Do what is best for the dog.

You can always explain your decision to the owner.

Most owners understand when they realize that you only have the best interest of their pet in mind. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sometimes I Get Mad....

....at myself.

I get mad that I let a customer bother me.
I let them get under my skin.
I let them make me doubt myself.

That is the worst of all..to let a customer make you doubt yourself.

After all, YOU are the groomer.
Even if you have been grooming only for a short time, you still probably know more about grooming than the dog owner.

If you have been grooming as long as I have, you know that you know more about grooming.
So why is it that I let knit-picky customers rule my day sometimes.

I have an owner whose dog I have been grooming for a little over a year.
The dog is very nice, but very, very nervous.
The owner is nice, but I don't doubt for a second that she could get very un-nice if she were not happy with the groom.

You just feel it in your bones sometimes.
There are customers that no matter how nice they always seem to be, there are little comments that they make, that you just know things could turn ugly if you didn't always please them.

When I first started grooming I used to really stress and go out of my way to cater to these types of people.
I could stress myself to the point of tears, or being sick to my stomach.
I am not sure when it finally dawned on me that I can only do the best job that I can on every dog that I groom, and if the owner doesn't like it, they need to find another groomer that they will like.

Once that sunk into my head, most of the stress over pleasing everyone and especially the picky customers eased up about 90%.
If you really care about what you do, I don't think all of the stress ever goes away entirely. :/

Why do I say that?

Because of today.
Because of a dog that I groomed today.
The one I was talking about at the beginning of my post.

The very, very nervous dog with the very, very picky owner.

Why do I say that she is picky?
After all, she is paying for the groom, right?
She should have her dog clipped exactly the way she wants, right?

Yes, she should.
But, when you have been doing exactly what the owner asks for.... every time you groom the dog...exactly how she asked for it....for over a year....and you only got it 'perfect' one time....it may be about time to give up.

 Isn't he cute?

He is very, very sweet.

He is very, very nervous and jumpy.

Kind of like Barney Fife was on 'The Andy Griffith Show'.

Only this is Barney Fife after he drank too many RedBulls.

After his owner and I went over all of her very specific instructions, she noticed that her dog was still shaking a little in my arms.

"I'll go get his stress medicine," she told me. "It is in my car."
"That's okay, I tried to stop her. "He stops shaking after I take him in the grooming room."
"No, no," she stared for the door. "It's right in my car."

She left and went out to her car.
I stood there in my lobby holding her dog in my arms.
His shaking almost immediately slowed to a very soft hum.

Two minutes later she was back.
Her dog started shaking harder than he was before she walked out.
She immediately gave her dog three full droppers of his stress medicine.
Said bye to her dog and left again.

He stopped shaking as soon as I took him to the grooming room.

Now, her instructions for the groom were basically the same as usual, except for a couple of changes.
There are almost always one or two changes.
There is always at least one thing that was 'not quite right' last time.

I will get to that a little later.

The first change was....well I guess I couldn't really call it a change.
"I really liked the way you made the top of the tail puffy last time," she told me. "Can you do that again?"

"I puffed up the top of the tail?????" I thought to myself. "I don't remember doing anything different to the tail last time."

I checked my notes from his last grooming.

His tail was matted.

That is were the puffy hair came from.

It was damaged hair from being dematted.

I didn't scissor the tail any differently.

I just de-matted it.

She wanted the same thing again.

It turned out to be no problem.

His tail was totally matted again.

Once I de-matted his tail....not the easiest thing to do to a dog that is the reincarnation of Barney Fife on Redbull....his tail was puffy again.

Thankfully that my trusty mat splitter made it a lot easier.

I wanted to use some finishing spray to help condition the damaged hair, but the owner wanted a puffy tail.

The finishing spray would have probably flattened it too much.

Okay, that was one instruction covered.

The owner also wanted the ears shortened.

But, not too much, because the ears must be balanced with the tail.

Oh, and she also wanted me to make the ears more puffy and have more volume.

So, before I started drying the ears I decided to take some length off of them.

I know, I know.

It most likely would not make any difference.

But, nobody can say that I didn't try to get those ears puffierrrrrr.

So here he is all fluffed up.

Yes, that is the best I could do with the top of his head.

Yes, it still had a part in it even after using volumizer and mousse.

Yes, his owner wants a Poodle type topknot on his head.

I even put a little Volumizer on his mustache because his owner wants it as round as I can get it.

I used "The Volumizer", from Davis, on his head, mustache, and ears.

His owner always wanted a round mustache, but she also wanted it short.

The only problem was, that it was hard to get the mustache round when she wanted it so short and also wanted the top of his nose shaved off.

You can't get a circle round if you cut the top of the circle off, right?

The last time that she was in I told her that she would have to let the mustache grow out a little so I could get it rounder.

She told me to see if I could get it round this time.

 I made a decision on my own.

I decided not to shave the top of nose all of the way down like his owner likes.

I only shaved between and under the eyes.

Don't worry.
I'll find out next time if I made the right decision.

Anyway, his mustache lays pretty flat naturally.

It also does not help that he likes to constantly lick it down, or suck it into his mouth.

This is before.

This is after.

Is it round enough?

I think it turned out really nice.

Take a nice long look....it does not stay that way.

I had a talk with him.

Well, not really a talk...I actually begged him not to lick his mustache....at least until after his owner picked him up.

He just gave me a kiss and proceeded to lick the heck out of his mustache.

And suck the hair into his mouth.

 It didn't look very round when he did the nervous pant either.

Which he does most of the time.

Do the ears look puffy enough?

Is the head round enough?

I am ashamed to say that I spent way too long grooming this dog.

I knit-picked, and knit-picked, and knit-picked.

I spent more time on that dogs head and mustache than I did grooming this entire dog.

AND this dog.

Unbelievable, right?.

I really had both of these dogs clipped and scissored faster than Barney Fifes head.

I really have issues. :/

I do the best job I can on every dog that I groom.
Whether I like the owner or not. (I do like this owner, I just can't seem to get her dog right)
Whether I like the dog or not. (I really like her dog)

I always do my best.
It is my reputation walking out the door with every dog I groom.

So, why do I still occasionally knit-pick on an easy groom that I should be able to do with my eyes closed?

Well, not closed, that would be scary, but you know what I mean.

I still let some owners get to me.
I still worry that I am not getting the groom just right.

I am not stressing really, I just seem to knit-pick more than usual.

I always pay for it.
It puts me behind for the rest of the day.
Then I get mad at myself.

Did I take the dog up to his owner when she came to pick up?


I figure I'll find out next time whether or not I got everything right.

I was running behind....remember.

I didn't have time to go up and watch her look over her dog.

The next groom will come soon enough. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF