Monday, November 21, 2011

Quote of the day

One of the most touchy subjects we deal with is telling clients that their pets are overweight.  They don't want to hear it, and they sure don't want to do what needs to be done to fix it. For most people, feeding their dog less, just isn't an option.

Today, a couple came in with their large breed dog, who actually has been on a diet.  The wife proudly told us that her dog had lost 2 pounds. 

The husband, apparently unimpressed, promptly took the wind right out of her sails.
"That dog losing 2 pounds, is like throwing a lawn chair off a cruise ship!" 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A day in pictures

On this particular day, I had plenty of dogs to groom, but most of them were not getting haircuts, so I had time to take lots of pictures.  Short-haired breed owners love our groomings, as we can cut down on shedding substantially.  Usually, however,  I don't do quite this many on one day.

New ribbon came today! The clients are going to love the new patterns.   We needed a few new holiday patterns and the red, but we ordered some more fun ones.   My favorites are the dragonflies and the ladybugs. 

First up, we have this little Poodle mix.  This is essentially the same haircut he has been getting for years.  Today, his owner had instructions, no idea why.  She said, "I don't want him to look like a Poodle you know, so be sure you leave his ears long so he looks like a Schnauzer" (??)  I don't argue.. I guess she's never seen a Schnauzer(?)  or even a Poodle (?)  I'm just happy she liked her groom.

Next?  Rub a Dub Dub, Shiba Inu in the tub!

Handsome Labrador Mix, #1.  This guy actually was a victim of a local tornado, he has a pretty large scar on his back, but was adopted by a very nice family.  It was his 1st groom ever!

Yellow Lab #1, looking a bit sad. Poor guy, I guess he had other plans for today.

Yellow Lab #2, distinguisted in grey.

Lab Mix #2, happy girl!

Shih Tzu Boy...

Shih Tzu Girl. Her tongue is always sticking out.

And, Mr. Black Labrador.

I forgot to take a picture of the final dog, another Lab, but Chocolate this time.

It was a full day of work, just not much variety! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Right under the bus.

Today we are going to learn about throwing your groomer under the bus.  It's not OK.  Don't try it when you bring your dog to me.  It doesn't work to suck up to me that way.  It's a pretty rare occasion that I'll take your side.

Me:  I see we groomed your dog a few years ago.  (a few years ago was 2005 in case you wondered)  What kind of haircut would you like on her today?

Client:  A cute one. 

Me:  Silence, hoping for more details... none came.

Me: Do you like her in a cocker trim?'

Client:  YES.  The groomer I usually go to (translation: couldn't get me in quickly enough for an appointment) always just shaves her down.  She says she is too matted, so it's always short.  I don't like that trim.
(right under the bus)

Me:  (not fooled by such talk) Well, sometimes if the coat is too matted, there is no other choice.  It looks like today we can save her coat though. (yep, cause your last haircut was a shave)

Client:  OH good.  I just want her to look cute.

Me:  So, should we still trim some on her legs, so it's a little less upkeep? (since you never brush her)

Client: Yes, maybe that would be best.  She does like to play in the wet grass, and there will be snow soon.

This dog had an insanely thick coat.  I can easily see why once it got to a length not much longer than it was today, it would've been matted beyond help.  I did make the dog look "cute" today.  I make no promises for the next haircut, because now, it's long.   Even with the trim I gave her, it's now much longer than it was when the last groomer shaved it  had no other choice but to shave it.  Now, when she returns and I have to shave it, I'm going to be the one under that big yellow bus.  I did make an attempt at educating her at go home time.  It went something like this:

Client: Oh, it's perfect, I love it, she is so cute! 

Me:  If you like this cut on her, it will take some upkeep at home and more frequent groomings.  Her coat is very thick, and I can see how it would matt easily.  I recommend she comes back to see me in 6- 8 weeks.  You may be able to push it to the 8 week mark by doing alot of brushing at home.

Client:  Oh, ok.  Will it still cost the same if I bring her that often?

Me:  Yes, that is the price we charge.  Today she was in very good condition.   If the coat is matted we will charge extra.  Can I make you an appointment for 6 weeks? (I chose 6 weeks due to the fact that she didn't respond to my brushing comment at all) Or, we could call you in 6 weeks to remind you, that it's nearly time for a groom. 

Client:  No... I will just call to get an appointment when it's time.  (translation:  3-4 months from now)

I get it that sometimes groomers do make mistakes,  I certainly have.   Maybe some groomers skills aren't the best.    Most of the time, however, I do not believe that is the case. They are getting blamed for haircuts that they had no other choice to do.  Blamed for something that could've been avoided by actually brushing their dog, and/or bringing them in for grooming more often.  We have a few clients that we have to proactively do shorter trims than the owners like, even though we actually could've left it longer, just so we have any hope of leaving any hair on the dog next time.  Sad that we have to be sneaky that way, but it's protecting all of us, dog, groomer and client. 

I wonder how many times I have been thrown under the bus...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Uncomfortable Situations

I believe I have admitted it to you.  I have a serious problem with recognizing people.  I'm quite sure I could NEVER pick out the correct criminal suspect in a police line-up.  I actually have decent memory skills.  I can remember haircuts I did 2 years ago, I remember birthdays, and remember the words to songs(for the most part).    That said, I have never been good with faces or really any details about people.  If you get kidnapped while you are with me... I may not actually be able to help out the police with what color shirt you were wearing that day, or what color your eyes are.  Sorry..

This can be a huge problem when I'm out in "the real world" away from work.  People find me in the grocery store, or at the mall.  They know me.  I have no freaking clue who they are.  I feel really bad about that.  So, I have learned (as well all have to at one time or another) to fake it.  I smile, ask how they are, and more importantly how their pets are.  If I can just get out of them what their pet's name is without letting on I have no hope of remembering their face, I'm golden.  Once I hear the pets name, it all comes back to me. 

I of course will remember the pet's name every time.  If pets were out shopping by themselves.. I'd be able to greet them by name every single time!  Give me 4 seemingly identical Shih Tzus, and I can tell you their names.  Sad, right??  I blame it on the fact that I spend a grand total of about 4 minutes with each human client that comes in.  I will spend at least 3-4 hours with their pet.  At least that is what I keep telling myself.

I leave you with my latest meeting with a client at a local art fair.  My facebook friends have heard this already.  Thankfully she spit out the dog's name immediately, so I was doing well.  She was quite excited to see me and wanted to introduce me to her Mother, a woman in her 70's.  She told me "This is "Molly's" Grandma!!"  Her Mother responded to this by telling me "It's OK that she calls me a dog's Grandma, because we all know what they call a dog's Mother".  I guess we do all know that.  I hope that I kept a fairly straight face when I told her "I guess you have a point".  HA!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

People trainers.

It never ceases to amaze me, just how intelligent dogs are.  I'm not talking about highly trained obedience, hunting or agility dogs.  I'm talking about dogs that no one has ever bothered to train. 

The story I always tell in the puppy classes I teach is a great example of this.  A Toy Poodle owner came in one day saying she wanted to buy a muzzle for her dog.  This dog certainly was no prize for grooming, and I did have to muzzle him, but it's rare that an owner wants to muzzle their own dog.  I had to ask what was going on.  She said "I have to buy a muzzle for him, so I can do my laundry".  Ok... I certainly needed more info.  "Every time I fold the warm laundry from the dryer on the couch, he jumps on it and trys to bite me if I want to move it".  Wow.  This dog weighed all of 5 pounds.  As I tell my students, he didn't just wake up one day and decide to guard the laundry.  It started with a snarl when the owner walked by the dog's food dish.  Then, he snapped at her when she tried to move him from her recliner.  Little by little, these dogs take over the house.  Most people laugh when I tell this story.  I mean really... scared of a tiny dog???   It sounds silly, but a small dog bite is still painful, so it's no surprise that she gave that reaction.  I try to teach my puppy owners to watch for the warning signs of a household takeover.  It happens before they know what hits them. 

Today, J groomed a small dog she has groomed many times before.  The dog had some pretty large matts in her tail and ears, and J was barely able to save them.  She mentioned this to the owners, and requested that they take some extra brushing time in these spots at home, to avoid having to shave them off all together.  The owners admitted that they knew about the tangles, however, brushing would not be happening with this dog.  Turns out the little brat turned nasty on them every time they tried.  In fact, they said that now when they even bring the brush out the dog snarls at them. 

Here's why I was impressed with this smart dog.  J had NEVER seen any agression in this dog.. not even when brushing out large matts, which probably was somewhat painful.  She was so surprised that this dog would ever show that kind of attitude.  So, this dog not only knew how to train her owners, she also knew which humans would not be good candidates for her training program!  I know it's not funny if you own a dog like this.. but it really makes me laugh!  I've got to give the dog credit. 

Moral of this blog post?  Please don't let your dog train you!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween is over, people.

My magic wand went back in the closet.

Believe me, I wish I had a magic wand, or some magical potion.  How about that "nose wiggle" thing Samantha had on Bewitched? That would be cool.  I'd certainly be the richest groomer EVER, if I had any of that stuff.

Lots of people think I have some special equipment; brushes, combs, cremes, lotions, you name it.  This special "groomer only " stuff works on matting, and tangles, not to mention bad home haircuts.

I wish. 

Sadly,  we are often heard saying "my brush doesn't work any better than yours does".  If people don't put in the work on a long coat, I can't save what's too far gone.  If you chop the hair above your dog's eyes back to scalping length, I can't perform a miracle.. it's going to have to grow back. 

Here's a great example of a call I took the other day.  Apparently someone had given them my name as a miracle worker, and I apologize to them that I couldn't be more help.

Client:  My dog rolled in something, and it stained his long white coat.  What can I use to get it out?

Me:  What do you think it is? Have you tried bathing him at home?

C:  Not sure, it's brown.  Yes, I've bathed him multiple times, even using laundry bluing, and nothing works.  I looked it up on the internet and they recommend a mixture of peroxide and woolite, do you think that would work??

Me:  Peroxide sounds like it would be a bit harsh.   Woolite could work, it would be worth trying, but be sure to heavily condition your dog's coat afterward. 

C: But the internet said it's the mixture of the peroxide and woolite that actually gets rid of the stain.  They also said it needs to be peroxide used by human stylists.

Me: Well, I guess it's worth a try, but I've never used anything like that, so I don't know how it would be on your dog's skin. 

C:  I tried to get the peroxide from a beauty supply store, but they won't let me buy it, because I don't have a cosmetology license.  I tried to get my hairdresser to buy it for me, but she won't.  I even tried to get them to bathe my dog, but they won't bath dogs at their shop.  <no kidding>  Do you think that peroxide would work?

Me:  I don't know, I've never used it. (maybe she think's I have a cosmetology license??)  My guess is that you have a very badly stained coat and nothing I have here will work to get it out.  It will probably have to wear out, or you may need to cut it and start over if it's really bad.

C:  But, what do you use on white poodles and show dogs???

Me:  If they are stained, I haven't found much that works that well.

C: Well, what do the show dog owners do when this happens? 

Me: (now getting a bit less patient)  Show dog people don't let their dogs run around outside and roll in things like that.  They protect their dog's coats.

C:  Oh, well, I hoped you would have something to give me that would work.

M: I'm sorry... Good luck..

I wish I could've helped, I really do.  However, anything I could have sold her wouldn't have worked.  I'm not in the practice of just taking people's money, when I know they won't be satisfied.  After all her bathing at home, I was sure any products I use, just would not have worked.

Yet again, no magic wand.  Bummer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Delivery Men

I'd like to take this time to encourage all owners of pets being dropped off for grooming to give the person actually in charge of the drop off itself a bit of information.

I know, I make fun of the notes I get sometimes.  But seriously, don't leave your delivery guy out of the loop.  In my experience at least 96 % of the clueless "just dropping off" clients are men... it's just a fact, that's why we are calling them deliver "men" in this case.   2% are teenagers who just got their drivers license and are willing to drive ANYWHERE, even if it's just to take the dog to the groomers.  That leaves 2% of friends and neighbors and the occasional wife who know absolutely nothing about the dog.

It's classic.  I ask the following simple questions, which generally get these responses.

How would you like her haircut done today?
1.   Blank stare and mild look of panic.
2.   Um... You guys are supposed to know that.
3.  I'm just the delivery guy.  (yes, many of them actually say that actually say that.)

What time will your wife/girlfriend/Mom be back to pick her up?
1.  See #1 above.
2.  Some time this afternoon. (great.. so could be 12:01pm or 6 pm or anywhere in between, really helpful)
3.  Didn't she tell you when she made the appointment????  (If she did, I probably would'n't be asking)

Sometimes, I think women do this just to mess with the guys.  Like when they send their wives to the hardware store for a box of nails.  They are always met with "what type?, how many?, what are you using them for??"  That's always fun.

So, I'm left to try and figure out what the wife "would've wanted" had she been here to tell me.  Sometimes, they are afraid to even guess what their wife  wants... so out comes the cell phone which after dialing, they hand off to me.  The wife either has specific instructions.. or she says "I TOLD HIM WHAT I WANTED"... yeah... I think he forgot.      Most of the delivery guys are in a huge rush to get the heck out of there, so you are going to have right around 45 seconds to ask the correct questions.  Most of them are just pushing the leash at you, and backing away. 

Sometimes, these delivery guys try to fake it.  They recover quickly from the blank stare stage and  go on to tell us some crazy grooming instructions that we are pretty sure the wife would never agree with.  "Just shave him."  Sure... then when the wife comes home you can play dumb and say "I'm not sure why they would've shaved him".  Yes, it's happened.  So, we track down a work number and call to "double check" what instructions we were given. 

We also have another variation, where husband and wife have completely different ideas of how the dog should look.  Then they will tell us, "well, it's me dropping the dog off, so I'm going to pick the haircut today".  In most of those cases... I have to agree, but it does make me a bit nervous.  One guy had me shave the ears off the family poodle, while the wife was away on vacation.  I wonder what that homecoming was like.  Thankfully, I never heard, but the husband never dropped the dog off again.  Sometimes they do come in together and argue over who will get to choose.  I've actually had to walk away for a bit to give them time to decide, and then I'll get involved. 

So, what I'm saying is, instructional notes are OK!  I cannot guarantee they won't help fill the pages of this blog, but they are helpful.  At least send a phone # where you can be reached.. unless you really don't care how your dog looks when I'm done with her.