Very soon it will be the "shave down the neglected dog season" Usually occurring in the spring months, these dogs come in after a full year without grooming. In my early days of grooming, we used to joke that you know it's spring by the volume of Springer Spaniel shaves you do in a week. Now, Springers are not as popular as they used to be, so we get more variety. The lower the dog is to the ground, the more things we find.
Usually these are traditionally outdoor dogs, but it's not exclusive to them. Sometimes, these smelly, matted, filthy messes are actually living in someones home. Yuck! Many times we find surprises underneath that coat. Ok, certainly most of the time, it's a skin problem or a hotspot. But, once in a while we will find something that got caught in the coat, sometimes months ago.
Sure, there are twigs and burrs. I don't think there is much that thrills me more than picking up a dog and THEN realizing he is full of burrs. OUCH. Poor dog. The worst part is knowing that our burr season is in the fall...and now it's spring, and the dog has had to lay on those burrs for months. We also find gum (of course) and things like candy..or cough drops. That stuff nearly always gets blamed on the children in the family. Oh and stickers, we find lots of stickers in dog coats. You know...like the Chiquita banana ones, or the sale sticker off someone's loaf of bread.
Sometimes, though, we find really odd things. Like the time we found a 3 inch long strand of barbed wire...matted into the coat. That was really great on the clippers. Luckily, it was matted somewhere in the center of this dog's matting layers, so I don't think that it was actually hurting him. Come to think of it, we find alot of wire in dog's coats, thankfully most of it isn't barbed.
My co-worker, J, once was shaving down a neglected Lhasa, and found what she thought was a mid-size, oblong tumor on the dog's belly. After clipping away the hair, the "tumor" fell off. She unraveled the hair from the item and found that it was a curler. A hard, metal, prickly curler, like your Grandmother used to use! That poor dog. We felt so bad for it, having to lay on the curler all the time.
You may wonder what on earth the owners have to say, when they pick up their pets. They just look at us and say "really, I wonder where he picked that up?" and off they go. We can ask them to bring the pet in more often til we are blue in the face, and they won't do it. It's a once a year bill they are obligated to pay. Why do it more often? The dog turns out alright. We often dream of charging people for the "missed" groomings. Not that we don't charge extra for those messy dogs, but still, it never comes close to what our good clients pay to have their pets groomed every 8 weeks. It really isn't fair. Of course, I'm sure the car mechanics would also like to charge for all the missed oil changes and tire rotations too...such is life in a service industry.
I will keep making those dogs feel better, getting rid of the heavy matts, and whatever else is in there. They will leave with a spring in their step, able to walk on the pads of their feet again, and scratch an itch they haven't been able to get at since last September. Many of them act like puppies again, they just feel so much better. Some things will never change, but I keep hoping they will, for the sake of the dogs.
PS: I have no idea why blogger is highlighting my typing today...but I got sick of trying to fix it.