Monday, August 22, 2011


I was once accused of "shaming" a client whose dog was very matted.  I actually never thought of it that way.  She had a high maintenance breed which she wanted kept in full coat.  I'll admit.. he looks beautiful in this trim.  That said, as usual, I don't believe in causing  pain to dogs for the sake of the owner's vanity. 

It's not their fault they became matted.  They didn't choose to be kept in full coat.  I really believe, that given the choice, (my own dogs included) dogs would choose to be shaved every time.  Let's face it, the long, beautiful flowing coats... that is  for us, not the dogs. 

The "shaming" in question happened when this client had her dog's coat get away from her.  She really does normally brush her dog, otherwise there would be no way to keep him looking like he does.  She went through a phase where brushing the dog wasn't top on her list.  The day in question he was very matted.  I barely saved his coat, by splitting through the matts,  and he still ended up with brush burn.  Brush burn is caused by constant brushing in one spot, causing a sore on the skin.  We avoid doing this as best we can. It's usually seen on pink skinned/white coated breeds who have had to have alot of brushing to get rid of matting.  I feel horrible me when this happens.  The poor dog!  It's one of the reasons why we many times refuse to brush out badly matted animals.    I told the client, though I had saved her dog's coat today, if he came back in this condition, I would have to shave him.  I suppose that did sound a bit like shaming. (?)  Kind of an ultimatum, I guess.. but that day I wished I would've called her and told her shaving was the only option, instead of torturing her dog.

The next time she came in, the dog was in much better shape.  I mentioned it, and it was then that she told me "well, last time you shamed me".  I felt bad.. I don't want to have my clients feel that way.  I felt I gave her a choice, but perhaps it could've been worded better.  That said.. it worked.   He never came back in that condition again. 

It does make me wonder, though.  Have I shamed others into going to a different groomer?  I realize I actually did nothing wrong.  But, people want what they want.  Sometimes they try to find someone who will give them that no matter what. 

It reminds me of a cat we used to groom, who absolutely hated grooming of any kind.  Her owners were told there was no other choice for us but to sedate her for grooms.  She was very unhappy with that choice and moved on to another grooming place.  She told us "they have no problem with her".  We found this really hard to believe, but hey, good for them.  Years later I spoke with a groomer that worked at the place she went.  She told us it took 3 people to hold the cat down, and that sometimes she would pass out from fighting so hard.  If that was my cat.. I'd want to know the truth, and would realize that sedation was a better answer for the cat.  How sad. 

My clients, when told that their precious pet was good for her grooming, will many times say "you say that to everyone" or " you wouldn't tell me if she was bad".  Wrong.  I do tell people.  They need to know.  Maybe they can change something with training at home, maybe they can't, but it's important that they  know. 

If that is shaming, I guess I'm going to keep doing it.  The truth hurts sometimes.


  1. The owners deserve honesty so they (a) know their pets are doing OK in there and (b) know when they need to do a better job taking care of them at home! I'd definitely want to know if my boyz were anything but happy happy happy at the groomer :)

  2. I'm on the walker/sitter side of things, but I 100% tell owners what's going on with their dogs. I'm sure on more than one occasion I've "shamed" a person, but I don't feel the least bit bad about it - it's for the sake of their pet, who is much more important to me than the person. I've happily dropped clients for being dumbasses too. Interestingly, no one has ever dropped me (I'm sure it's only a matter of time).

    You keep doing it.

    And I feel sick thinking about that poor kitty :(

  3. Well you all make me feel much better with these comments because I just lost a 'customer'. In quotes because I groomed the Beardie for free for a year and even picked her up and dropped her off on occasion. I babysat her for 10 days while they were on vacation and groomed her every day to get all of her mats out. I asked the owner if she would get the Beardie with a puppy coat, by the way, to get her to me every week or 10 days the latest. Nope, she'd wait a month, 6 weeks, 2 months when it was nearly impossible and I had to really sweat over the poor thing to get the mats out. Finally, I asked to be paid. She brought the beardie to me too late though and the little thing needed to be shaved down. I called the owner, said I'd have to shave her down and she blew up at me, said she was coming for the dog and left in a huff. She said she'd do her herself and that all she needed was a bath and some 'conditioner'. I thought 'really?' I was quite upset and worried about the little Beardie girl.

  4. Patti,
    I'm so sorry you were unable to get through to this person. That said, it happens to me every day. I hear it all the time "well, just leave the matts in and I'll get them myself at home" REALLY?? Why didn't you then? My guess is she will figure out that she's way over her head and bring her to a groomer, who will tell her the dog needs to be shaved. Hopefully, she will be big enough to admit her mistake to you. The poor baby Beardie. "it's all fun and games til you have to care for the coat" is what I tell people when they want to own a dog just like mine! I talk EVERYONE out of it. :)