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, January 27, 2014

Not My Best Groom.....

....BUT I did my best. :)

I am taking a break from working on my business taxes to talk about a Shih-tzu that I groomed the other day.
(I have so many numbers spinning in my head I can't see straight.)

Anyway, I have a long time Shih-tzu customer that is a very sweet dog, but I truly feel that he is mentally challenged.
This particular Shih-tzu, even though he is now around 12 years old, has always acted like a young puppy, but yet not a puppy.
The only difference is that he truly does not seem to understand what you want him to do.
It is very hard to explain.
He is non stop motion at all times.
Worst of all he is what I call a bobble-head.

Just imagine one of those bobble-heads, whose head bobbles up and down and sideways constantly, as you try to scissor the head and face.
He is not jerking away from the scissors, or pulling away from your hold.
His head is just in a constant state of movement while grooming.
I had to use my sports setting on my camera to get a picture that would not be blurry.

I am sharing this little man with everyone because I am very proud of him.

This is him before his groom.

You may not be able to tell, but he had both of his eyes removed about 8 weeks ago.

He had severe glaucoma in both eyes.

Medicine was not longer helping control the pressure and pain.

Although, because of his happy nature, you would not have known that he was in pain.

The only signs that he showed that he was in pain, was that he would shake his head a lot and walk into walls a lot, both of which he has stopped doing since his surgery.
The only two choices the owners had left, were to put him to sleep, or remove both eyes.

His owners were so worried about him losing both of his eyes, but I told them that I thought he would handle it well, because of his happy disposition.
I am so happy that he proved me right.

He is still a very happy, sweet dog.
He is still constant motion.
He is still a bobble-head.
He is NO  LONGER in any pain!!

His owner did want me to leave hair in front of his eye socks so that it would not look obvious that he had no eyes.

 Lets just say...I did my best.

As I said before, he is my little bobble head.

Up, down, up, down, left, right, up, left, down, right, up.....that is all while you are trying to scissor a nice round face and head.

Oh, and God forbid someone walks into the groom room while I am scissoring his head.

Even though he can not see, he could still hear his toy Poodle friend yap like crazy every time someone walked into the grooming room.

 So, I think he still looks cute, even without his eyes and the less than great job I did scissoring his head.

AND, he sure does look happy to me.

Oh, one other thing, for anyone reading my blog that is not a groomer.

I am not choking him in the pictures.
 I am holding him back from walking right off of the edge of my table.

For some unknown reason, blind dogs love to walk all over the grooming table as though there were no edge to the table at all and nothing to worry about.
It always amazes me how blind dogs will so confidently walk forward without a care in the world, as though they can see just fine. 

If only we humans could take changes in our lives in stride like our furry friends. :)

If only I could take doing my taxes in stride.....

Friday, January 24, 2014

An Answer For Beth

A fellow groomer left a comment for me the other day asking for some advise with grooming.
I was about to reply when I thought that other groomers may run into the same problem, so I thought that I would answer in a post for everyone.

Here is the comment that Beth left me the other day:

I was hoping you may be able to give me some advice. I tried to groom a 7 month spoodle yesterday. It was her first grooming. She was very bouncy and scared of the clippers. I managed to get her used to the sound of the clippers and she licked some peanut butter of the clipper handle but whenever I actually went to pick up the clippers to groom her she was determined to jump off the table. She keep trying to jump out of the tub when I bathed her too. I am a very newbie groomer and would appreciate some tips! I tried calming her down but she hardly stops moving and when I held her face to clip she shook her head from side to side violently. I don't want her to get traumatized but to realize that grooming isn't bad.

First of all, my answer to Beth's question is purely the way that I deal with difficult dogs.
I am sure that there are other techniques that work for other groomers.

Unfortunately, it does not help the groomer, at all, that this Poodle was brought in for it's first grooming at 7 months old.
The best scenario for this Poodle would have been for her to have her face and feet shaved at eight to twelve weeks old.
Then regular grooming's every 6 to 8 weeks from then on.
So, at 7 months old, this Poodle should have already experienced grooming at least four times.

When I have a customer bring me a dog that is over 6 months (or several years) old before it comes in for its very first professional grooming, I immediately inform the owners that I will do the best with the grooming that I can, but it may not be perfect.
I explain to the pet owner that the groom experience for and older puppy, (or dog) is much more fearful than it would be for a very young puppy who is right in the middle of experiencing all kind of new things and tends to accept their first grooming along with all of the other new things in their life.

By 6 months a puppy is already 10 years old in dog years.
There are not too many new things going on in their life now.
They are already starting to get settled in a routine, and grooming was not part of it.

Yes, the old way of looking at a dogs age was wrong.

They have a new, supposedly more accurate calculation for the way dogs age. 

I explain to the pet owners that it may take the pet a few groomings to get used to the grooming process.
I also explain that I will only do what their pet will let me do, because I want to make the grooming process as pleasant as possible for their pet.
I am telling the pet owner all of this for one other reason also....to help me out.
To take some of the pressure off of me.
To help keep me from getting stressed out trying to do 'the perfect groom', and everything the owner wants on their scared, nervous dog that they waited way too long to bring in for its first grooming.
If I am stressed, the dog will be stressed.

That is the most important thing.....for me, the groomer, not to feel stressed while doing the first groom.
The groom will be hard enough for me just to get the dog acclimated to all the new simulations that it has never experienced before.
The last thing that I need to worry about is if the cut is perfect.

Here is a list of some of the things that I do to help a dog accept the grooming.

~ Before any grooming, I hold, pet, hug, and talk to the dog, letting the dog get used to me, the new, unfamiliar person he/ she was suddenly left with. 

~ I rub my hands all over the dog, while talking playfully, but at the same time I am testing out how the dog feels about me touching each part of their body.

~ I like to turn the water on in the tub, spraying away from the dog, giving the dog time to get used to the sound of the water before it touches them.

~ If the dog appears to be really skiddish and nervous, I will wet my hands and run my wet hands over the dog first. Then with the water on very low, I will very slowly wet the lower back leg. If the dog starts to dance around, I just follow, keeping the water on the leg and talking to the dog calmly petting and reassuring him/her that the water is not going to kill them. 

~ keep working slowly, only moving faster as they start to trust and realize that I am not trying to hurt them.

Some dogs are very quick to trust and accept what you are doing, some take a lot more time.

Clipping and Poodle face for the first time:

I recommend, if possible, that groomers invest in one of the cordless clippers such as the Wahl Arco, Chromado, or Bravura.
The reason I say this is because these clippers run very smooth and quiet.
It is hard enough to get a dog to accept the vibration of a clipper on their face, feet, or body, much less a clipper that is loud and raddles.

A quiet, smooth clipper really helps when clipping a face.

I like to get the Poodle used to me handling their face by rubbing my hands all over their face before any attempt to clip.

I rub the sides of the face, and around the eyes and muzzle, getting the dog used to me holding their face.

 If they struggle while I am rubbing their face, I hold on, (not too tight) just enough to hold on.

If they twist and turn their face, I twist and turn with them, all the while still massaging their face.

I do not let go of the face until they settle.

They settle....I let go and praise.

Then I repeat until they let me pet and massage the face without yanking away.

Next comes the clippers.

I turn the clippers on without the blade and hold it away from the dog to let them get used to the sound.

If it is a very nervous dog, I will press the body of the clipper to the dogs body first, to help him/her get used to the vibration of the clipper.

If the dog yanks away, I follow and keep pressing the clipper lightly against the body until the dog realizes that the vibration is not hurting them and stops moving.

For some dogs, it only takes seconds for them to realize that the vibration is not hurting them, other dogs it takes a while longer.
Every once in awhile, when I have a dog that is truly petrified, I will hug them to my body while pressing the clipper to their body, till they relax and realize that the clipper is not hurting them.
Once they have settled, I will slowly start to rub the vibrating clipper all over their body so that they can see it is not going to hurt them.
All of the time I am talking to them and praising them for doing so good.
Yes, even if they haven't been being very good.
Once they have accepted the clipper vibration on their body, I slowly move up the neck to the face.

Hopefully, by now the dog is a least a little accepting of the vibration of the clipper, but may still fight for the face.

I like to start with the clipper against the dogs cheek, but not too close to the ear.

Again, if the dog yanks away, I follow, holding the face with one hand.

I only hold as tight as I need to, but not too tight, just tight enough to hold on.

As soon as the dog stops trying to pull away, I loosen my hold but, do not let go.
Once the dog stops struggling against the vibration of the clipper on its face, I slowly start to move the clipper around the face, everywhere that I plan to clip.

You may find that you get the dog to accept the clipper on one side of the face only to have them freak out again on the other side.
Just do the same on the second side as you did on the other.

Once they seem to be accepting the clipper, put the blade back on your clipper and again press the body of the clipper against the face.
If the dog is not fighting, slowly start to clip.
Praise, praise, praise!

Once you finish clipping one side of the face, really praise the dog before moving on to the second side.

I have to say that this is one of the areas of grooming that the groomer has to train themselves.
They must train themselves to stay calm while a dog is struggling and freaking out.
They must train themselves to have the patience it takes to work slowly with the dog.
They must train themselves to know when to stop if the dog is so frightened and un-accepting that it may hurt itself or the groomer.

Okay, for some reason I feel like I am just rambling and nothing I have written is making any scents.
I hope that I have explained myself in a way that is helpful.

Beth, as for the dog trying to jump off of the table, check out 'The Groomers Helper'.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kitty Makeover

I had a Maine Coon cat in for a bath and brushout the other day.

I was excited to try out the Chubbs Bar on this cat.

This kitty was a perfect candidate for trying out the Chubbs Bar.

This kitty needed a de-grease bath.

 He was not matted, but his hair was greasy and tacky.

 This is an older kitty, and it will be his first bath.

I was not sure what to expect when I put him in the tub.

He was talking up a storm.

I like to put the cats in the tub and turn the water on low and away from them, so that they can get used to the sound of the water before I start to wet them down.

 While the water temperature was regulating, I was petting the cat and talking to him.

By now he had calmed down and stopped talking.

I like to start wetting them by getting my hand wet and petting them with my wet hand, slowly getting the hair wet.

It is my way to get the cat ready for the water and ease himm into getting wet.

I don't wet the entire cat at one time.

I wet the back and start to soap it up.

Then I add a little more water and soap up another area.

 I like to keep the water running on low so that I don't startle the cat each time I want to put water on him to spread the shampoo.

 I also put the hose nozzle right up against the cat so that he is not startled by the spray of the water.

When rinsing the face, I fold the ears down with my fingers to keep water from getting in them.

 I rinsed off about 80% of the shampoo and then soaped him up a second time with a medicated shampoo.

He was doing really great.

Next I wrapped him in a towel and started to HV dry him.

I started with the dryer on low and at the back leg to let him get used to the dryer blowing on him.

Some one had been drying a dog while I was bathing him, so he was already used to the sound of the big dryer.

He did really great with the dryer, even allowing me to use it around his head and face.

 He did so good with the HV dryer that I was able to get him 95% dry with the big dryer.

I finished drying him with my hand dryer.

His owner did not want anything trimmed on him.

I was very pleased with the results of the Chubbs Bar on this cats coat.

 The Chubbs Bar did a great job de-greasing the coat.

 This cat was very clean.

He was done start to finish in just under an hour.

He had absolutely no desire to look at me every time I tried to take a picture.

He really looks pissed doesn't he? lol

Well, if he was, he certainly didn't act like it, and behaved like a gentleman.

No fighting.
No hissing.
No twitching tail.
No laid back ears.

Just a grumpy, sweet face. :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What Would You Do?.....Mix Breed

It is not often anymore that I am made to feel like a 'newbie' groomer.
Well, today was one of those days.

One of my first dogs of the day was a new customer with a medium size mix.
The dog was 14 years old, and had been being groomed by the same Mobile Groomer since she was a puppy.
The Mobile Groomer had retired, and the dogs owners had been looking for another groomer.
They had already been to two other groomers, but had issues with them both.

Now it was my turn.

I feel bad when I have an elderly dog come in as a new customer.
Especially one that has only known one groomer.
The dog was used to the way the Mobile Groomer groomed.
Now she had to get used to me and the way that I groom.

On top of all of that, her owner was so used to just handing her to the Mobile Groomer and saying "do the usual" that he had a horrible time trying to describe how he wanted her groomed. 
I had just as horrible of a time understanding what he was trying to describe.

I must say, that I pride myself on being able to read between the lines when owners are trying to describe a cut for me.
I am usually able to understand what they are trying to say even when they are not totally sure what they want.

This owner knew what he wanted done, he just could not translate it to me in a way I was sure I understood.
The more questions that I asked, the more I was getting confused.
At one point, I was sure that the owner was wondering if I knew what I was doing.

Because of being unhappy with the two previous groomers they had tried, they had let their dog grow out longer than they ever had before.

Every time I asked a question, the owners answer would make me think of a different cut or blade length.

I would ask one question, and his answer would make me think, 'oh, okay, I'll do a #4f.'

Then I would ask another question, and his answer would make me rethink the #4f.

He kept telling me that; "we like her clipped to her coat."
I actually thought that I kind of understood what he meant by that description, then he would say short, but not too short, it's cold outside.
I just could not get him to tell me what 'he' thought short was.
Was 2 inches left short?
Was 1 inch short?
Was 1/2 an inch short?
Or, where they all too long?

  The face was just as confusing.

They had been cutting on it a little.

The owners description was; "take it short and clean."

Again I asked questions to clarify and make sure that I understood what he wanted, only to be confused once again.

I ended up telling the owner that I would do what I thought that he wanted, and if it was too long, or too short we would fix it with the next groom.

So, I took her back and bathed and blow dried her.

The whole time I was driving myself crazy trying to decide how short to take her.

What was the owners idea of short?
A #7f blade?
A #4f blade?
A comb attachment?
A hand scissor?

While bathing and drying, I had been playing around with the idea of calling the wife to see if I could understand her directions better than her husbands.
I kept going back and forth with this idea, because I did not want the husband to be upset that I was going behind him to ask his wife the same questions that I had asked him.

While drying the dog, I realized that with all of my questions to the husband, I had forgotten to ask about the ears.
Goody... a legit reason to call the wife.
So, I asked my husband to call and ask about the ears and double check the clipping instructions.

Problem solved, right?


Wife did not answer her phone.

Husband was do back in half an hour.
I had to make a decision.

 I decided to try the yellow Wahl metal comb attachment first.

I wanted to see how short it would take this thick, plushy coat.

I knew that it would clip the hair shorter than a dog with a thin, silky coat.

  It is hard to tell in this picture, but the yellow comb took the hair down to about an inch left.

I liked it, but the voice in my head was telling me the owners want it shorter.

I almost picked up a shorter comb, but you can't put the hair back on, right?

I decided to stick with the yellow comb.

Guess what?

The wife called back....

...just as I was scissoring to finish.

I had this side left to finish and one side of the faces left.

The husband was do back any minute.

As per the wife, it sounded like they would have liked a #3f blade, or #4f blade length.

She wanted about half an inch left. :p

I offered to go over the dog again with a shorter blade if her husband could wait about 15 minutes.
She said to leave the cut the way that I had already clipped it and they would have me take it shorter the next time.

 So, I finished the face.

I made sure to take the top of the head and over the eyes short.

I did understand that instruction from the husband.

I just was not a 100% sure about the rest of the face.

She was ready to be taken out to her owner.

Her owner seemed happy with the cut, but said that they usually go shorter, but this cut was okay for the winter.

Then something happened that broke my heart.

My little new furry friend started to dance around the lobby.
"She needs to go to the bathroom," her owner told me.

I looked at my furry friend with her fresh, clean, fluffy cut.
Then I looked out the door of my shop at the pouring down rain.


Her owner said thanks and good bye then headed for the door.
I stood there watching as he walked her out into the rain.
I watched as she squatted right outside my door, by the curb, in the parking lot.
It was not a quick pee.
It was a long, old girl pee.

I watched as the rain poured down on her back, that just seconds ago had been nice, dry, and fluffy.
I died a little inside as I watched the rain drops flatten the hair on her back.
All that work....gone....washed away..... just gone.

The wife hadn't even seen the dog yet.
Her husband was bring home a wet dog.

Only another groomer can understand how this drove me crazy.
Couldn't help but feel that I was not going to see the dog again.
How could someone judge your grooming when a wet dog was coming home?

We ended up staying 20 minutes after our closing time, because a customer had forgotten to pick up her dog.
It turned out to be good thing.
Just as the forgetful owner walked in the door, the phone rang.
It was the owner of my new furry friend from this morning.
They were calling to book grooming appointments for her for the rest of the year.

I guess she still looked good enough even when wet. :)
She was a very sweet dog.
I am glad she is coming back.