Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Snowbird dreams...or maybe more of a fantasy

At this time of the year some old friends come back to us.  Since I work in an area that  is considered a vacation destination, there are many dogs I only see for about 3 to 4 months a year.  These are our summer residents, or Snowbirds, if you will. We love to see them all come back, and are sad to see them go when the weather inevitably turns cold again.    

Some of these clients have been with me from the time I started, and for many of those, I am on the 2nd  set of dogs with them.  They are very loyal, and it feels like a big family reunion when they all start filtering in.  Usually this influx starts around mid-April, with the last of them leaving in early October.  They come from all over the country.  The majority of  these lucky pooches reside in warmer climates such as Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California.  We even have one family that comes from Germany each year.   Some have lake places, others park their camper in a campground for the season. 

Many of these clients have one thing to say when they get back. "Those Florida(or where ever they live) groomers,  just don't groom our dog like you do".    It's not that we don't take alot of pride in our groomings, we certainly do, and we'd like to think we are the best around.  But I find it pretty surprising, not to mention a bit sad, that they can't find a groomer that they are happy with.   I can only assume that many of them live in posh areas where "boutique grooming" is popular.  That teamed with the added bonus that we send along detailed instructions plus our phone number where we can be reached for questioning, I can't see how it all goes wrong.   If these places are offering painted toenails, aroma therapy and massage as ala carte on their grooming price list, you'd think they could also provide a more than sub-standard haircut.

You're thinking...those people are just trying to be nice.  A haircut is a haircut.  Seriously..it's true.  One particular pair of dogs, we have to spend nearly the whole summer re-setting their patterns, no clue what goes on there.  I always wonder what that groomer thinks when those dogs get back home.  "What the heck are those northern groomers thinking...now we have to fix this!"  One client, whose dog looks especially bad when she shows up , tells us that she knows the haircut isn't good, but the groomer is nice to her dog.  This Arizona  groomer doesn't like people much, and doesn't give a choice how the dogs get groomed (she actually told us that), but he loves dogs.  Wow.  Another client refuses to let the groomers where she lives cut her dog's hair at all.  They give her dog a bath...that's it, for 9 months.  Meanwhile we give her a haircut every other week for the remaining 3 months.  Thankfully it's a breed that can live without a cut.

At the end of the season many of these Snowbirds tell us "I wish I could take you with me!"  We joke that they should fly us out, that we'd be happy to groom their precious pup, just send us a ticket!  One lady did tell me that she has an extra bedroom...I would be more than welcome. 

Here's where the fantasy comes in.  I think we should take them up on it.   J and I talk about travelling the southern states all winter long.  We would stop along the way to groom our Snowbird's (as well as their friend's) pets.  We'd make plenty of cash, and get to see what a warm January is all about!  I'd like to try it, just once!  Hey, everyone has to have a dream!

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's your dog, not mine.

Some people just can't make a decision, even what seems like a really simple one.

Me:  Hi, how do you want your dog trimmed this time?

Ms. Undecided:  Well, he needs a bath for sure, and his nails trimmed.

Me:  What about the rest, do you want him to have a haircut too, like last time?

Ms. Undecided:  Well, whatever you think.

Me:  Which would YOU like?  Do you like him to be a bit fuzzy like he is right now, or to be trimmed up more?

Ms. Undecided: Yeah.  Whatever you think.

Me: *sigh* Ok.

I went with the haircut...I thought it looked better...hope she did.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm not a Veterinarian, but I play one on T.V.

I work for a Veterinarian.  I've worked at a Vet clinic since I got out of grooming school...and we've established that was a really long time ago.  This doesn't make me a Vet at all, surprisingly enough. I groom dogs, and cats, and the occasional Guinea Pig,  but don't offer medical advice to people regarding their pets.

Ok, actually I do give advice.  These conversations go something like this:

Pet Owner:  My dog has been limping for 3 weeks, how much baby aspirin should I give him? 
Me:  You need to take him to the Vet, and you shouldn't give him baby aspirin.

Pet Owner:  My cat has been throwing up for 5 days.  What do you think is wrong with him?
Me:  You need to take him to the Vet. 

Pet Owner:    My dog's ears are red, and they really bother him, is there some kind of medication I can buy at Walmart for that?
Me:  Take your dog to the Vet!

These people (normally, not clients, just people who know me) all want me to tell them how to "heal"  their pets for very little money or better yet, NO money.  Crazy thing is, if my pets are sick, I take them to the vet.   I don't treat my own dogs with knowledge I've gained from working for a vet.  And, no, I don't get everything for free.   I know this is a universal problem.  If you work doing anything with animals, or even just owned a dog for 3 weeks in 1992,  you get these kind of questions. 

I do feel that a very important part of my job is finding health problems the owner may have missed.  I find lumps and bumps, ear infections, and eye problems, just to name a few.  Sometimes, these are in places that people just don't pet their dogs.  Other times, the problems are hiding underneath the mass of thick hair I am removing. 

Some of my clients think I know a bit more than their Vet.  To be fair, my clients see me many more times a year than they do their Vet.  They trust me, and I certainly do know their dog.  Sometimes they will have conversations like this with their pet's Dr.:

Vet:  Your pet needs to have surgery to have this lump removed.
Client: Hmm, I'd like to consult with D about that.  She will know what I should do.

I don't encourage this type of thing at all.  But, it happens all the time.  Dr. S, a good friend of mine, and a Vet I used to work with, laughingly called us the "Fricking Groomers"  because of this.  He took the slam to his hard-earned degree in Veterinary Medicine in stride.  He found the humor in the fact that they really did think we knew more.  It all works out in the end, the dog gets the medical treatment prescribed, as we concur with the Dr.'s diagnosis, every time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rub A Dub Dub

Can you get us out of her pleeeese?

Three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in a Tub.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mohawk Alert!!

Not the most photogenic of dogs..but still proof of the many Mohawks we are asked to do!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mr. Fusspot and The Big Mamoo

Did I get your attention with that title?  It kind of sounds like a Dr. Seuss book or something. 

Mr. Fusspot is a Pomeranian that came in for a groom the other day.  Who names their dog that??  How did he get his name?  Was he a fussy puppy?  He was perfectly quiet in our kennel areas, not much of a "fusspot" at all.  Anyway, his name made us laugh and reminded us of another crazy-named dog.

The Big Mamoo was an Old English Sheepdog that we groomed many years ago.  Yep, they called her "THE Big Mamoo".  Nothing for short...that was what they called her.  She was pretty big...but what the hell is a Mamoo?   My Co-worker J was grooming Mamoo (we shortened her name..it was just easier) one day, and they requested a call when she was done.  J got on the phone, and the conversation went something like this:

Client: Hello? Note:  The voice on the other line sounded elderly, which sometimes makes you speak just a bit louder than you normally would.

J:  Hi, this is J and The Big Mamoo is ready to go home.

Client:  WHAT? 


Client: WHO????


Client:  WHO IS THIS???

J:  Uh...Is this the Olson home??

Client: NO!

J: OH, sorry to have bothered you.

Whoopsie.  She dialed the wrong number.  We laughed until we cried that day, and still do when we think about it.  What must they have thought on the other end of the line?!?!?    We could only wonder what if Mr. Fusspot's owner left a number where she could be reached, and we called to let the wrong people know he was ready to be picked up!  I'm sure they would hang up on us, at least I would if someone told me I needed to pick up Mr. Fusspot.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why do I do it?!?!

Long time, no blog post.  I know.  My modem decided to kick the bucket,  and until I find the time to contact the company during their business hours (they are so darn picky about that), and get them to send me a new one, I'm forced to use my phone's mobile hotspot option, which is slower than molasses when uploading  photos.  What's a blog post without photos? Really..not as fun.  I've even got a new mohawk photo to show off.  Stay tuned for that.

Check out this handsome guy.  Beautiful right?  This is his BEFORE photo.  I'm sad to say, you won't be impressed with his AFTER.  At this time of year I shave alot of dogs, we've covered that.  Today, I'm going to speak to why I (and other groomers) am forced to shave beautiful Golden Retrievers such as this one.  When I was in grooming school, we were taught to groom dogs as close to their breed standard as possible.  Shaving a double coated breed was considered sacrilege. I was as horrified as you are that someone would clip off such a lovely speciman's coat. 

I got a job working in the northwoods, where lakes are everywhere and hunting breeds such as this are very popular.  These breeds obviously were bred to be water dogs, and up here, they certainly have that as an option.  The problem is that these dogs will stay in the water morning til night, if allowed, and believe me they are allowed.  They never dry off all summer.  Many of them are house pets too.  There is a bit of a problem when the dripping wet dog comes in for the night.  They stay so wet all the time (especially the thick coated ones) that sometimes they actually mildew!  The stench is horrific.  Most groomers around here know exactly what "stinky Golden Retriever" smells like.  I know, you are wondering, why can't the owners keep them out of the water?  Good question.  If I lived on a lake, you can bet my dogs would only jump in if invited.  But, that's me.  This is just one of the many reasons I shave Goldens.  Short-haired dogs dry fast.  You are probably still asking questions..like:  "why don't they just dry the dog off? " Have you been reading my blog??? My clientele is not going to do that.

Another great reason is directly related to the swimming issue.  Many times these dogs, kept wet for weeks on end, sometimes end up with hot spots,   Now, while any breed can get a hot spot, Goldens seem to attract them.  The thick coat plastered down by lakewater, can set off scratching and digging which leads to a painful hotspot, and a large vet bill for these guys.  We shave them to help avoid this. 

There is a reason that I don't agree with.  My clients use it alot.  The reason they give is "he sheds too much."  Really?  You didn't think your dog would shed?  Plus, it's still going to shed..just shorter hair.  But, apparently that is easier for them to take, and many times, this is the reason for the shave-down.  I try to talk them out of it.  I don't enjoy doing it, especially for a less-than-intelligent reason such as this.  But, in the end, it's their dog, and if I don't do it, someone else will. 

One of the things they told us in grooming school was that if you shave a double coated breed, the coat will grow back in thicker than ever.  This is somewhat true.  It usually takes 5-6 years of clipping before it really starts happening, but it does happen to many dogs.  The worst part, and we warn against this all the time, is the fact that eventually, the dog's coat becomes damaged.  Especially elderly dogs have a problem with this, and sometimes the coat doesn't grow back at all, just peach fuzz left in it's place.  Not attractive at all.

Some Goldens look just like Labradors when we shave them, especially the very light colored ones.  When they are done with the haircut, they really don't look too bad.   The worst are the dark red Goldens like our boy in the photo.  These dogs have light undercoat, and there is no way to blend that pale color into the deep red of the head and legs.  Here is what happens. 

Very sad, I know.  However, this dog will be happily swimming for the summer and he probably loves this haircut.  So, next time you see a shaved down Golden, please try not to judge the groomer, we don't like to do it, but sometimes we just have to.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Favorite Things

Just so you've been warned, I want to go on record that this post will be NOTHING like Oprah's favorite things.  No one will get any free or cool stuff, by reading this post.  Sorry.  I hope you still want to read my blog.

I have a few tools that I just can't live without.  I'm sure every groomer has them.  Today, I was reminded of something that I would be in BIG trouble without. 

She looks pretty innocent doesn't she?

WRONG.  This little girlie won't let anyone near her feet or nails.  Notice her pushed in nose.  Brachiocephalic breeds (and cats, of any breed)  give groomers a special challenge.  It's very hard to muzzle these guys.  They just don't have a nose to attach the muzzle to.  Here's how I take care of that.

Yes, she has a box on her head.

It's a homemade muzzle.  We call it the "smooshy face muzzle". I purchased the first one I owned, at grooming school.  Some genius former student got the idea for them, and made them to sell.  She really should've patented them and gotten rich.  As far as I know, she never did.  It's made from the plastic mesh stuff you get in craft stores.  Then it's sewn together, and it has a collar crocheted to it, which gathers to tighten around the dogs neck, so they can't get it off.    This one is a replicated one..my original disappeared (can you say PANIC?) and luckily a talented co-worker made this one for me. Thanks K!    The dogs don't mind it much, of course dogs that bite are bothered by anything that gets in the way of them using their teeth, but it works really well.  They can see through the mesh, and of course breath easily.  Some dogs are actually calmed by it. 

As you can see this little darling isn't too upset.  It really is a life-saver.  Plus it has the added benefit of making anyone laugh that walks by the grooming room door.  * *Warning, this muzzle isn't completely fool-proof.  The dogs really bent on biting learn they can push their nose right up against the muzzle and pinch through the holes.  Still, it's much better than anything else we have for these guys. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sorry, that's not really a service we provide.

We had a client come in with her two small dogs.  Both were badly in need of a haircut.  Little did we know, the owners had other things in mind.   

After discussing the particulars on the groomings, she then told us that the female was in heat.  Ok, I will admit, that isn't my favorite time of the year to groom a dog, but I was grateful she was letting me know.  Many times it's a surprise, to me as well as the clueless owners. 

Now the request.  The other dog was of course an intact male.  Could we please leave them together as much as possible?  "We think she is ready to breed".  Wow.  I'm not sure my poker face quite worked that day.  Seriously?  Far be it for me to rain on this parade, but come on people! 

No puppies were conceived that day.  Well, maybe later they were, but not on my watch.. I kept the happy couple separated until it was time for them to go home.