Thursday, December 30, 2010


My co-worker relayed this conversation that she had with one of her clients today.

Client:  I want him left in a long haircut.  I completely brushed him out before Christmas.

Groomer:  Hmmm, it looks like his legs are pretty matted.

Client:  Well, I didn't brush his legs!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Make Hay While the Sun Shines.

This week is the busiest week of the year for most groomers.  There is never a more important time for your pet to look it's best than Christmas.  Dogs are travelling with their owners to visit relatives, and no one likes to ride in the car with a stinky dog. Plus,  if you want to be asked to visit again next year, its best to have clean pets that aren't shedding all over the place along.  This time of year offers lots of photo ops as well, and "Fluffy" must look her best.

Here's the thing about getting your pet groomed for Christmas...  You want it clean the week of Christmas, not 10 days before, not 3 days after.  I understand, really I do, it's hard to keep dogs clean.  But, it's hard for me to fit in ALL the clients that want an appointment this week.  This week it's a 4 day window, as Friday is Christmas Eve and I'm off that day. 

I believe I have mentioned before that I work on commission.  So, I groom and groom and groom this week, to make up for the dark days after Christmas when there will be very little income.  Things will pick back up in February, but until then, pretty much if your dog hasn't been groomed before Christmas, you no longer have the money to get it groomed.  Especially, since who cares if the dog is dirty AFTER Grandma leaves?

Yesterday there was a snowstorm here, which was still going on this morning, so I had 3 dogs cancel, and no one wanted to fill those appointment.  This will apparently be known as my "rest" day.  Wednesday is really busy and Thursday is just insane. 

I will do my best to fit everyone in, by taking no lunches and very few bathroom breaks.  You think I'm kidding.  I'm not. 

I'll be tired out, by Christmas Eve, but my clientele is generally very grateful and generous at this time of year.  Every dog goes out the door with a Holiday bandanna or festive bows, and it's actually a pretty fun week.  Just don't ask me to go to Mexico the week of Christmas..I'll be working.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I've always wanted one of those dogs!

The other day I groomed a Rough Collie for some people who do Collie Rescue.  It was an older boy, who had obviously seen some hard times.  He had scars all over his face, and a chunk of ear missing.  He was apparently a stray that had been picked up by a humane society in another state.  You have to wonder, who could lose a Collie.  They really aren't that common anymore, yet, thanks to Lassie, very recognizable.  My guess is someone dumped him.  Poor boy.  He was terrified of the bath (probably his 1st ever) but by the time I got to finishing him, he stood very well on the table, and seemed to enjoy the pampering.  He was beautiful when he was done, and I am happy to report he had already found a new home, which he was being placed in the next day.   Lucky people, this was one nice dog. 

Anyone who has ever seen a Collie (and I think most everyone knows what Lassie looks like) knows how beautiful they can be when cared for.  Sadly, though they really are one of the most even tempered dogs I have run into for the most part, they are one of the most neglected.  No one (it seems) who chooses a Collie has  any idea that Lassie didn't look that way naturally.  People actually BRUSHED her/him (yes, I know the real Lassie was a male dog).  He didn't just go running through the swamps with Timmy and magically turn sparkling white and beautiful.  These clueless people buy an adorable puppy, then once they realize that long hair smells bad and sheds all over, they are kicked outdoors and ignored for the better part of their lives. 

I am asked many times, "what are the most neglected breeds?"  I'm sure it's different by region and popularity of breeds in your area, but where I live, there are a select few, including the Collie  that come to mind (in no particular order)

 Newfoundlands.  Yep..another ADORABLE puppy.  So cute and sweet, they look just like a little bear cub.  By the time they are 9 months old, they are a  100 lb drooling mass of stinky, shedding hair, that still has some major growing to do.  For some reason this breed also gets neglected big-time in the training department as well.  They never really learn to walk on a leash, so they drag their owners everywhere, making them even less cute and cuddly.  Soon, they are kicked out of the house, too much hair (Oh, and did I mention drool??) in the house.  Then to add insult to injury..they cost large amounts of money to get professionally groomed!  No kidding.  I can't believe that 200lb untrained mess doesn't cost around $40 to groom! 

St. Bernards See all the above statements.

Samoyeds.  Again..simply the cutest little ball of 8 week old fluff you've ever seen.  This breed REALLY needs brushing.  That long coat gets matted very fast, and unlike the Saints and Newfies, the ones we have to groom don't really appreciate the tugging and pulling involved in de-matting.  Oh..and surprisingly enough, that pristine white coat stays like that for about 7 minutes, unless it's the dead of a very snowy winter.

Old English Sheepdog  Another "movie" breed that appears on the big screen to always stay clean and "shaggy".  Everyone loves a shaggy dog until they have to brush them. They lose even more of their appeal when the messy face that just got a huge drink out of a mud puddle gives you a big sloppy kiss.   As an owner of another shaggy breed (Bearded Collies) I can say with authority that all that  lovely coat brings in EVERYTHING, sticks, small trees, leaves and of course DIRT.  The coat gets matted without frequent brushing and then they bring them to me, where I have no choice but to shave them.  Shaggy dogs that have been shaved down are not as cute...let's face facts. 

So, by now you have noticed that there is a theme to this sorry list.   Large and Hairy.   Don't get me wrong, I see plenty of neglected small dogs too, but across the board, I am hard pressed to find even ONE or TWO owners of the above dogs that actually is committed to caring for them.  It's sad, and I try very hard to council the people who think to ask before they buy one of these breeds.   No offense is meant to those of you who own, love and care for these breeds...I'm just talking about my little corner of the world.   There are many breeds that "look cool", but very few people should own them.  I will continue to try and be tactful, when someone tells me "I've always wanted one of those dogs".

Friday, December 10, 2010

Parental Discretion Advised

You've been warned. 

So this post is about the "creative"  terms owners use to describe their pet's private parts.  I can't help's just too funny. I can't keep it to myself any longer.

For the girls: 
One client calls it the "little wee-er".   I have no idea of the correct spelling of Wee-er, and since I doubt even Wikapedia has a definition, I'm going to go with that spelling.  This term would be used in a sentence like this:  "Be sure you trim her little Wee-er short".  Nice.     Then of course there is "Hoo haw", and the ever popular "down there". 

For the boys:
I'm just going to start with a quote.  "be sure you leave some hair on his dingleberries, so they don't get cold"  Really?  What do you think it will look like if the dog has a very short haircut, but a pom pom over his testicles??  Not good.  Boy dog owners are not as original as the girl dog owners.  They use the old standbys such as "weiner" and "pee pee". 

The absolute worst is when the owners use gestures to get their point across.   This is really disturbing when they motion to their own "areas" (front and back, I might add) to get their point across.  Wow. 

Then, we have some interesting terms relating to the back end of their dog.  Of course anal glands get mis-pronounced more often than anything else.  We have the people that want me to "do his annuals"  or "annubile glands"  One hand written note asked if I could please "break his glands"  (OUCH...WTH?)    One client wanted me to please trim off the "bodags" on her Sheltie..I was stumped, so I had to ask for more detail.  She was shocked that I didn't know that bodag was a commonly used term for dried stool stuck to a dog's rear.  I didn't learn that term in grooming school. 

We also get quite a few clients who apparently would like to forget altogether that their dog actually has certain parts of their anatomy.  Many clients don't like to see their dog's anus, and request that we leave hair over it.  Not the easiest feat, to make that look good.  And, anyway, if I leave hair there, won't that just invite bodags to form?? (I'm just sayin)  One owner was unhappy with her 6 month old Shih Tzu for holding her tail up all the time...she hoped that when the dog got older  it would carry her tail she wouldn't have to see the offensive body parts.  One client left us this note: " Please leave some hair, so his penis doesn't show".  Perhaps a female dog would've been a better choice here. 

I told you...I can't make this stuff up!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Losing a Friend.

Today I lost a friend.  This little dog had been my customer for many years.  He was different than many of my grooming dogs.  When it was time for him to come in for a grooming, much of the staff was not thrilled.

Here's the thing...except for his owner, Rusty only liked me.  He was nasty, I mean really, really nasty.  He didn't want anyone to touch him, really even look at him, especially not the hospital staff.  Years ago, his owner switched Veterinarians, for a short period of time,  and decided to try their groomer as well.  The groomer refused to do him anymore, unless he was anesthetized (I've certainly been there, with other dogs).  He was brought back to me, where he and I had "an understanding".    I respected Rusty.  I had seen what he was capable of, many times.  However, for some reason, he would let me do what I needed to do.  I knew all his quirks and of course, he would still need to be muzzled for part of his grooming.  (I'm brave, but not stupid) 

His owner, appreciated me immensely for dealing with his dog.  Some customers that own difficult dogs, don't realize how much extra work these dogs are for us, but he knew.  He would always jokingly ask to see my hands to make sure I still had all my fingers, as he handed over my tip.  I know how much he loved that dog.  It is certain to be very empty house for him tonight. 

Today, I did one last favor for this dog who made me feel "special".  I held him for the technician who gave him a sedative, so he would be peacefully asleep when they euthanized him.  I wanted his last few moments to be with someone he trusted. 

Rest in Peace, Rusty.  I'll miss you, old boy.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

More exciting presents.

Today I groomed a 8 month old Shih Tzu who can be a bit of a brat.  His very 1st groom(when he was 10 weeks old), ended badly with the frustrated groomer calling  his owner to pick him up...unfinished.    I met the little demon and his owner when I gave a grooming talk at a local puppy class.  The instructor took me aside and wanted me to consult with them after class, as apparently the dog had been a problem for him as well.  He acted pretty full of himself, but only struggled a bit when I gave him a nail trim.  She was surprised, and pleased that we "seemed to get along".  She booked an appointment with me 6 weeks ago.    The little guy had his moments that first groom, but nothing like she was describing (thankfully).  After hearing more about his behaviors, I strongly recommending neutering. 

Today, I repeated my plea for canine castration.  Though he was nearly perfect for me, and obviously respects me, at home things are a bit different.   I gave her my unsolicited opinion once more, to which she happily replied  "We already have the appointment set, he's getting neutered for Christmas".

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nice present.

Today a client was in to see the Dr.  as well as getting a grooming.  The owner made a point to tell me that her dog was getting his ears cleaned by the Dr. "for Christmas".  I'm sure the dog did appreciate it, as he did have an infection, but really.... for Christmas???

Friday, November 26, 2010

Typical Day after Thanksgiving.

I work in a place that has boarding services.  Holidays are of course our busiest times.  This year was no exception. 

When others are out shopping on Black Friday, looking for the best deals, I'm bathing and grooming dogs.  It's the perfect situation.  Many of those dogs that are boarding are going home on Friday (today) or sometime this weekend.  It's the perfect time to get in a grooming before they go home, very convenient to the client (as well as to me).  The dogs are already there, ready for me to start bathing.  Of course a few were scheduled appointments, brought out by the day off of work many owners had.  Sometimes it's hard to schedule a groom when you are working all week. 

Today there was 4 Labradors, 2 which had been groomed Tuesday, but were back, since they decided to roll in something really disgusting. (their owner was NOT smiling).  Then there were 2 Springer spanieals, 2 Dachshunds,  2 Springer Spaniels, 1 Pomeranian 1 Spaniel Mix, 1 Lhasa Apso, 1 Shih Tzu, 1 Pomeranian Mix, 1 Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and finally 1 Golden Retriever.  What a crazy day.  I do love days like that though, just the right mix of haircuts and brush/baths to make it a day that is workable. 

Now for a relaxing weekend...I can't wait!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Calm Before the Storm

Today is the Monday before Thanksgiving.  In a prior post, I explained to you that many of my clients are unware that a holiday is approaching fast.   Today my grooming schedule was fairly light, certainly not too strenuous. 

Tomorrow the phones will start ringing at 8:05 AM.  By 9:37 AM the few appointments I have available, as well as those for my co-worker will be full (and there aren't very many left).  By Noon the whiners will start calling.   "But Thursday is Thanksgiving" (Really?)  "We've got a house full of company coming."  "The dog is really shaggy"  (perhaps because he hasn't been groomed since July??)  Our receptionists are saints for patiently fielding these endless calls.   The calls will continue until Noon on Wednesday, when they will have finally given up the chance of getting into ANYWHERE to get their dog groomed. 

Now, I, like most professional groomers, work on commission.  That's it.  No hourly wage at all.  So, obviously the more dogs I groom, the more money I make.  It's this time of year that I wish I had a few more hours in the day (or at least a few more days before Thanksgiving) and a couple of extra hands.  I'll cram appointments in the best I can, but I can only do so much in a 9 hour day. 

I guess the point of this post is that I will be too exhausted to blog for a few, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  By the way:  I'm thankful for my wonderful job, where there is never a dull moment!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just a suggestion.

If you feel the need to trim your dog's "bangs" so it can see, this may be a small clue that your dog is actually DUE for a haircut.  The hair growing over your dog's eyes, actually doesn't grow any faster than the rest of his hair.    However, if you need to trim his face, because there is just no way you can get him into the groomer, and he will likely run into a wall if you don't, PLEASE, just cut the hair hanging down in front of the eyes, not the entire top of the head down to the skin.  I can't fix that...when you finally do bring him in.

Ok, once in a while I do cut my own bangs..but that is different, right?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Your bad planning is not my emergency.

I feel like most holidays are pretty well advertised.  Somehow they always seem to take people by surprise.  Not quite a week until Thanksgiving, and it's already starting.  Mrs. Procrastinator calls at Noon today.  "I need to get my dog in this afternoon for grooming"  Receptionist: "we are full for appointments today, but we could get you in tomorrow"  Mrs. P:  "OH NO!  If I can't get in today, then I won't be able to come in until after Thanksgiving."  Sorry Mrs. P...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

False Advertising

Many times I have to fix home haircuts, many of which involve some bloodshed for the poor animal.  I get it,  that to many people, shaving down a dog seems very easy.  "What's the big deal, just shave it down!?"  Surprisingly, it does take some skill, and more importantly, the correct equipment. 

One client (who had 4 dogs, so I certainly understand why she would want to save some money) thought that she'd buy a $40.00 clipper from the local big box store and give the dogs haircuts.  She soon realized that she was in over her head, and called to make an emergency fix appointment for the first victim.  Luckily, she hadn't caused him any harm, but he did look pretty funny with 1/2  a haircut, most of which was shaved down to surgical blade length.  She came in for her appointment in tears, saying, "It said on the box: saves you time, saves you money!"  "It took me half the day to do this, and it still isn't finished, and now I have to pay you to fix it."  "Talk about false advertising!"  I felt bad for her, and fixed the dog to the best of my ability. (some of it just wasn't fixable, luckily hair grows)  I'm guessing the new clipper went in the garbage, or on the next garage sale, an expensive lesson, all the way around.

Just FYI..I will give people suggestions if they ask what they could use to trim their dogs at home.  I get it that money is tight.  I feel that if I give them good info, they will still recommend me to others, as well as come back when they decide it's just easier for me to groom their dog (which honestly, is usually what happens).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lost in Translation

As a groomer, I have learned a second language.  It's the language of pet owners dropping their pets off for a grooming appointment.  It is extremely cryptic.  Here are just a few examples:

"I brush him as often as I can" translates to:  I don't brush my dog

"The kids were supposed to brush him" =  No one brushes the dog, but let's blame the kids.

"I don't know where these matts came from, he was all brushed out last night" =  ???  (Seriously, we get this one ALL the time!)

"He's never bitten anyone" = He's great until you try to touch him.

 "She can be a little nippy" = The last 2 groomers we tried, now refuse to let us come back.

 "She gets really cold if you trim her hair too short" = I know she is really matted, but I like her left long.

 "I've been grooming him myself!" = He will no longer allow me to do anything with him, so I thought I'd take him to a professional.

"That awful groomer I brought him to last time SHAVED him!"  = My dog was horribly matted/hadn't been groomed in a year,  and the groomer had no choice.    (I realize there is a chance that it really was a bad groomer, but many times that is not the case)

Stay tuned for more..I get them every day!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Clueless Clients

Mrs. Designer Dog  has a Pomeranian/Poodle cross, who looks more like a Pom.  She wants to breed this dog and wondered if we could help find her a suitable male.    I ask (my 1st mistake) what type of dog she would be looking for.  She responds, quite annoyed with me:  "A Pomeranian, of course, I'm certainly not going to breed her to some MUTT!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Did his owner ask for that???

I am going to try to educate, as well as entertain on this blog.  Sorry...I just feel I must clear up some misconceptions about what I do for a living. 

Case in point..Mr. Mohawk.  We get requests for mohawks frequently (even on cats!).   People have  a vision of what haircut their pet would look good in.  We try to advise them when certain things will look ridiculous, but the bottom line is, it's their dog.  Not mine.  As long as they are paying me, and what they are asking for will not be painful or uncomfortable for the dog, I really have to oblige them, to the best of my ability.

John Q. Public thinks I obviously don't know what a certain breed should look like, when they see some of my grooming clients on the street.  When in fact, I actually do.  I went to a grooming school, where all we learned, is breed standard haircuts, and a few "pet" trims.  I also have shown dogs for many years, and try to keep up with the changing styles in the breed rings.  It wasn't until I got a job in the "real world" that I realized the public just doesn't care what their dog is supposed to look like. 

People insist I shave dogs that should not really be shaved, and want me to leave dogs long and natural that would be adorable in a haircut.  The most common plea I get?  "Don't make him look like a Poodle".  Now, this isn't just for actual Poodles, I hear it for nearly all breeds (Shelties, Schnauzers, Pomeranians) and mix breeds, when in fact there would be no way I could possibly make their dog look like a Poodle.  The worst part is, 99% of them don't have a clue what a Poodle should look like (and I'm not referring to the "show cut" either)

The flip side is the times I can't give people what they want.  I actually can't make your dog look just like the multi-Best in Show dog that you saw on Westminster last's just not going to happen.  Also, if your Shih Tzu hasn't been groomed in 9 months and hasn't seen a brush since I used one on it, I can't won't leave it long.  I am not in the business of causing pain to animals.  I will shave your dog, or you can leave.  Those are your choices.  I have no magical tools.  I have a brush and a comb, just like you do.

So, next time you see a "crazy" haircut going down the street, try not to judge the might not be their fault.  Oh, and in case you were wondering..I've never suggested anyone's dog would look great in a mohawk! :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bucket List?

I thought I'd start with one of my all-time favorites.  Many times, as groomers, we are forced to give haircuts we are not proud of.  Clients have their own ideas about what would look good on their precious pups.  In this case, a dog came in with the following  note accompanying him.

The name of the dog is of course hidden to protect the poor guy from huge embarrassment.  Here is the finished product.  I repeat, SOMETIMES we are forced to do haircuts we are not proud of!

Sorry, Dude!

A New Blog

As a professional pet groomer for more than 20 years, I've heard every excuse in the book.  Literally.  My clients have excuses for everything, from why they are late, to why their dog is horribly matted and dirty.  Many of the things my clients say may seem a bit unbelievable.  I can only tell you it's all true.  Every last bit of it.  Some of the stories you will read here are my own, some have happened to my co-workers.  Names, of course, have been changed to protect the semi-innocent.   All that said, I love my job, don't let my sarcasm fool you.  Every single day, amidst the anal glands and nasty, biting dogs, there are sweet puppies and kind, loyal clients. 

I have no idea who will read this blog..maybe no one will, but these stories are just too hilarious not to share!  Enjoy.