Friday, November 16, 2012

What do you really think goes on back there?

I often wonder what people think.  We take their dirty dogs to the back, they leave them with us for a time, and they come back clean and looking good.  It's mysterious, I know.  We don't allow people to stay and watch their dog's grooming.  It would be very distracting to the dog, and let's face it... dogs generally act much better when their owners aren't around. 

We do let people come back and see where their dog is groomed of course, where they are kept for the day, etc.  It's not that big of a secret, and we really have nothing to hide.  Of course, certain dogs are very dramatic, and to the untrained eye, it might seem like we really might be hurting that dog that is screaming like we are about to amputate a limb with a butter knife.  We exert enough force with some dogs, just to get the job done, as if we only did things that the dogs "like", there would be alot of unfinished groomings.

With that in mind, I do question what some people really think happens "back there".  I figure that they really do trust us with their dogs.  But, who knows.  Today we had a couple of examples of why I tend to wonder.

J had a nasty little Dachshund today.  He has always been nasty.  The owners know this.  He is nasty to them.  However, every single groom, they ask how he was.  Hope springs eternal?  Her answer was "He was how he always is, he doesn't like his grooming".  To which the owner replied "Did you put him in a choke hold?"  Uh.. yes, then we waited til he lost consciousness so we could trim his nails without a fight.  J said, "no, we did muzzle him, so we wouldn't get bitten."  Would you actually bring your dog, no matter how nasty to someone you thought might use a "choke hold" on??  I don't get it.

Mine was a bit worse.  A naughty cocker who also has been bad from day one came in today.  She is cowering behind her owner.  The owner asks "was she bad for you last time??"  I replied that she was the same as always, she really doesn't like grooming.  Then, the owner goes on to say "Well, I thought maybe she was bad for you, she's never been this scared to come in before".  So, I take that to mean she thinks the dog was so bad that I beat it into submission?? Maybe used the choke hold??  I just take offense to that.  Some dogs just don't like grooming, it's a fact of life. Rarely it's because someone hurt it while grooming.  Many times, it's simply that the owners spoil the dog, and it just doesn't like to have to do anything.  Here comes the really odd part of the conversation.  I say (to the dog) "Come on now, it's not that bad".  The owner says "Easy for you to say, no one is going to stick their finger up your butt!"  Wow.  Let's break this down.  1st:  I don't do anal glands internally, so I'm not sticking my finger up anywhere.  2nd: Did you not want your dog's anal glands done? I'm happy to skip that step.  3rd:  EWWW.  Thanks for adding me personally into this equation. WHO SAYS THAT??  In case you are wondering, I did not respond.  I don't know what I would've said.

It does make you wonder what the average person thinks happens to their dog during it's stay with us.  I have many friends that have stopped to visit me at work and have witnessed groomings, and they will tell you we certainly don't abuse anyone.  Hopefully people like these are in the minority.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Client Craziness

We have had some incredibly strange and stupid client conversations lately.  When I say "We" for the most part I mean our sainted receptionists.  They've had the brunt of them this week. 

Let's start with Stupid.. shall we?  I came up to the front desk where one of the receptionists, Saint J was very obviously trying to disengage a client on the phone, so she could do the rest of her job.  Some of these clients just seem to want to talk.  About EVERYTHING.  Maybe some of them are lonely, or just don't have friends that want to listen to every detail about their precious pets.  Either way, though we try to be as polite as possible when dealing with clients on the phone, there are possibly other things going on.  Maybe there are 6 people at the front desk waiting to be checked in, or the phones (we have multiple lines) are ringing off the hook.  When I arrived, this is what was being said:  "No, sir, I would NOT recommend that."   "I think it would actually end up costing you much more than $300 if you do that"  "And, you could be arrested for animal cruelty.. no I actually am serious."     She eventually got him off the phone.  He had found a male dog.  He thought he would keep it.  However, it needed to be neutered.  So, of course, after hearing the price quote on an exam, vaccines, and a neuter, he thought he'd ask if she thought it was ok to just "band" him to neuter him. (Because, she probably just forgot to give him that option.)  His logic was "they do it to pigs".    By now you are thoroughly horrified and disgusted as you read this.  I'm here to say, it gets dumber.  The reason he needed to get this dog neutered (other than the obvious, good pet owner reason)?  He didn't want this dog to impregnate his Goldendoodle.    Seriously.  He plans to breed her, to what I have no idea.  He just can't have this mongrel dog getting her pregnant.  The last part of the conversation switched to "where can I find a doggy sperm bank around here".  Because of course, he has yet to find the right stud dog for this Doodle.  Now you know why I call them the sainted receptionists.

Next up, we have a story from Saint S, another receptionist.  She took a price quote call from a seemingly normal, intelligent pet owner.  She wanted to know what we charged for vaccines.  Rabies, Distemper, and the Border Collie vaccine.  Saint S thought she heard wrong.  Yes, of course she meant the Bordetella vaccine, which gets called lots of things, like the bordello shot (my personal favorite).  But then, at the end of the conversation she repeated it.  "How much was that Border Collie shot?"  It was an innocent mistake, but how S kept from laughing, I'll never know.  Was the dog a Border Collie?  Uh, no.  It was a Havanese.  It was a black and white Havanese, maybe that was the catch.  What would a Border Collie shot do for your dog?  Make it incredibly intelligent?  Give it the urge to herd livestock?  Give it a tennis ball obsession??  So many questions.

This next story is one you've already heard if you are one of my facebook friends, but I needed to add it to this group.  A small toy breed comes in for vaccinations and grooming.  She is 10 months old, and quite overdue for boosters.  When the technician gives them the estimate for what would be done that day, he said "Oh no, we won't be needing that Rabies shot, her little teeth would never even break skin".  Really?  Small dogs actually CAN'T bite?  How do they each hard kibble?  Considering most groomers will tell you if they have been bitten by a dog, it was by a toy breed, this is just not good information.  After a short talk on the importance of the rabies vaccine, the little dog is now protected. 

Last, today I had a Scottish Terrier come in, who has been a regular for me for a few years.  He is a horrible brat, and in all those years, I've never been able to brush out his face.  Why?  Because I can't remove the muzzle he is required to wear for the grooming.  I'm not willing to risk my hands to brush his face.  The owner started coming to me because she was kicked out of the last groomer's place.  They told her they wouldn't groom him without sedation.  I get him done, but I refuse to brush his face.   I'm the only one who can muzzle him for the vet, who he is even worse for.   These people KNOW this dog is nasty.  They can't brush his face either.   You are probably thinking: That dog's face must be one solid matt!   My answer to you?  No clue, I would never actually touch this dog's face, it's too dangerous.  They, however are in denial and like to tell me he is the "best dog they've ever had", and "he's so sweet".  Today, the husband dropped him off.  He was carrying him in his arms.  He offered to hand him to me, which I turned down.  I told him the dog didn't really like me, and probably wouldn't want me to carry him.  The owner feigned surprise, and said "I can't believe he isn't good for you!" "This dog is perfect at home!"  "You can do anything to him, you can lay on him, you can ride him.."  RIDE HIM????  This is a Scottie!  He is maybe 12 inches tall at the shoulders.  Who rides him?  A baby?  A Gnome?  A Monkey?  No clue, but I had no time to see if he'd like to elaborate.  It did give me a good laugh, though.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Is it fun to complain?

We have some clients who just love to complain, or at least that's how it seems.  We have to wonder, why do they keep coming back if things are so horrible?  I just have to assume that they complain everywhere they go, it's just a way of life for these people.  Does it hurt to be satisfied?  I don't get it.  Today J had to deal with one of her complainers. 

Mrs. S. apparently really loves the way J does her dog, though you'd never know it.  She once brought the dog to a "cheaper" (her words, not ours) groomer, and had to bring her to J the next day to have her fix the haircut.  After that, she swore she'd stay loyal to J.  She likes to complain. 

She complains the haircut takes too long.  No matter what time J tells her to come, she always comes a half hour earlier, then acts very annoyed and huffy when the dog isn't done.  By the way, she's always the last one in the door in the morning, as she doesn't like to get up too early.  Guess what?  The last dog in the door in the morning does not get to be the first one finished.  Surprising? 

She complains about the cost of the haircut, apparently forgetting the "cheap" groomer experience.    She complains when the dog has to be shorter than she wanted.  Never mind she puts off  the dog's haircuts as long as she can, and doesn't ever brush her.    Here was today's complaining conversation when J brought the dog up at go home.

J:  Wow, Blackie was extra dirty today, I had to give her 2 baths.
This was just an observation, small talk if you will.. the black dog came in grey, she was actually that dirty.  But, hey, dogs get dirty.

Mrs. S:  OH.. is THAT why it was so expensive this time??

J:  No, I charged you the same as last time, and the time before.  I didn't charge for the extra bathing.

Mrs. S:  Well, I spend more on her haircut than I do my own!
Don't even get me started on this comment!  We get it all the time!  You can't think of any reasons why it might be more expensive to have the dog groomed?  Hmm.. Nail trim, full body bath (not just their head!), ears cleaned, brushing out tangles (hopefully you don't have tangles in your hair when you show up at the hairdressers)anal glands expressed..  OH, and wait.. you hold still for your haircut! 

J:  Well, she does have alot of hair.
What else can you say?

Mrs S:  Why WAS she so dirty???
Huh?  How the heck do we know why she is dirty?  Does she think we threw dirt on her when she came in the door?

J:  I don't know, maybe because it's dusty and dirty in the fall.  Do you bathe her at home?

Mrs. S:  NO..That's what I pay you for. 

Mr. S dropped the dog off this morning.  He was more pleasant.  When J asked how he wanted the haircut he replied "you always do such a good job, that's why I drive 45 miles to come here".  Well, it's actually 45  miles round trip, but who's counting.  I wish he'd tell his wife that J always does such a good job.

I can only believe that with out a complaint of some sort, Mrs. S's day is not complete.  It gets really old.  I would think it would be exhausting to be that crabby all the time.   We end up working twice as hard to attempt to make these people happy than we do the rest of the clientele.  That is just not ok.  I'm sure anywhere you work there are Mrs. S-type people.  What makes them so unhappy?  I'm sure I'll never know. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On this election day, something to make you smile.

I know, its serious business.. it's election day!  Don't worry, I voted!  That said, I think we all need a little bit of lighthearted fun, or if you've been reading this blog awhile, you would be right to expect some lighthearted craziness.  You will not be disappointed.

This is one of those "please don't say where you get your dog groomed" moments.  This dog's owner requests him to be shaved, as he's going hunting, and they don't want him to pick up burrs.  Also, it seems he's going to be featured on a local hunting show on TV.   The important part of his haircut?  I have to leave his "mohawk" (really more of  a tuft) on his head, as it's his "personality". 

So, yeah.. I don't find that very attractive.  You see, the tuft only grows long on the brown/liver color on his head.  So, it's really only 1/2 a mohawk? 

Oh my.

It's my hope that it will be a calm day on TV show filming day.  And someone pets him on the head to flatten it down.  A "comb over" of sorts.


Now, are you ready to laugh?????? I sure hope so. 

Here it comes.

This is what I saw in a kennel that came in with a dog brought in to see the Dr.'s today.

Anybody know what that is??

Does this seem familiar?

Yep... it is actually a SHAKE WEIGHT... as seen on T.V.!! HA!!
Who knew it made a good dog toy? 
What you can't see in the photo is that it has teeth marks all over it.  It's a well-used toy!   Apparently it means alot to the dog, as he had to bring it with him when he went to the vet. 

The dog must be pretty strong..  carrying around that weight for fun!

Hope you enjoyed..I know we got a good laugh!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just down the block from crazy street...

People bring in odd things sometimes for their pets during their stay in our boarding department.  Recently a dog came in with hamburgers.. like from McDonalds.. one to be given each day, along with his dogfood. We had a cat years ago that would come in with his own supply of Whitefish, from the swanky fish shop down the street.  That cat was to get his fish every day at 4 pm.  The cat could tell time very accurately.   You never were late with Scooter's fish, unless you were deaf, that is.

Today a cat came in for boarding.  Along with the usual bedding, large baggie full of toys (many, many toys), and his special food, there was an item we've never seen before in boarding land.  A sound machine.  You know, like the ones people use to play certain noises to help them relax or fall asleep?  The cat had his own sound machine!! Then came the instructions.  He must have the machine dialed to "summer rain" at night.  Then, during daily "naptime" it should be turned to "rainstorm".  The staff checking in the pet for it's stay thought the owner was kidding.  He most certainly was not.  Dead serious.  He then insisted we turn the volume all the way up for kitty.

Some questions.  Does a cat enjoy sounds, other than the sound of the food dish being filled?  I've heard of people leaving the tv on for their dog, and never really bought into it.  Cats just seem too into themselves, to listen to recordings of sound. (?)  How the hell will we know when naptime is?  Don't cats nap 23 hours a day?  What time is bedtime?  So many questions.

J asked the most important one.  Why rain sounds? Anyone know a cat that enjoys rain?  She promptly turned it to "rainforest". (SHH, don't tell on us) It had loud birds chirping, with a little rain for good measure.  The other cat boarding in the next cage was quite interested and immediately started looking for the birdies.  As for the owner of the sound machine?  No change, curled up deep in his blankets, hiding from us all.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

To bathe before brushing, a controversial subject.

I know, I've been lax on blogging, and then I choose a serious, even informative (maybe even boring)subject.  Sorry, it's just a subject I've been meaning to blog about.  I promise, more crazy stories to follow soon.

I (and I'm guessing most groomers) learned it in grooming school.  NEVER, never, NEVER bathe a dog before it's fully brushed out.  It will make the matted coat even more matted.  I followed this rule for years, it was so ingrained in me.  In some cases, it's still true, but luckily I was shown the light. 

I was enlightened when a new groomer came to work with us for a short time.  She put every dog she was grooming right into the tub.  Until this time, we had always "roughed in" each dog before taking them to the tub.  The basic reasoning was that you should cut off excess dirty hair you wouldn't want to spend drying, which that part still holds true.  It also was because we had been told that any matting would most certainly become so tight, there would be no hope of brushing out that dog afterwards.  We saw that it was a time-saver for sure, especially on dogs that we didn't plan on taking much coat off of.  There was just no need to spend the time cutting hair that you would have to go back over after the bath anyway.  We took up the practice on especially the double coated breeds.  Malamutes, Huskies, Shelties, etc.  When you are only going to trim the feet anyway, why put them on the table twice.  The undercoat would just as easily (or actually easier) blow out with the high velocity dryer in the tub, rather than spend the time brushing out coat on a dirty dog. 

We still were wary of bathing matted dogs, even ones with very few matts.  We continued to brush out Poodles, Shih Tzus, Schnauzers, etc.  Then, J and I attended a rare grooming seminar.  There was a speaker there (of course I can't remember her name) that told us that clean hair actually brushes out easier.  The dirt makes each individual hair "sticky", actually causing damage to the coat  by brushing out a dirty coat.  She had visual aids of dirty versus clean hair follicles, showing the clean follicle as a smooth surface. 

Nothing made me a believer more than trying this out on my own dogs.  My older dog in particular has a huge coat, and when I am forced to brush him when he's dirty, it's obviously harder on him and me.  I have to push the brush through his coat.  When he is freshly bathed,(I also use a light conditioner) the brush glides easily (ok, easily, compared to when he's dirty.  The matting doesn't just disappear, that would be nice, though.) through it, and undercoat comes out much easier.  It's really pretty amazing.  I bathe my dogs every other week, just because of this.  I can get away with brushing once a week, and brushing them once on the off week when they are dirty is my limit. 

Here is the key to all this.  You must brush that clean dog out immediately after drying.  Again, this is my own trial and error proof.  Sometimes, I bathe my dogs and then at the end of a long day at work, I decide I am too lazy to fully brush them out, something that takes 40-60 minutes per dog.  BIG mistake.  I go back the very next day, and now the matts really ARE tighter and harder to deal with.  I have no idea why 24 hours would make such a difference, but I have learned from this mistake.

That reason is why I rarely give away this trick to my clients.  They already bathe and bathe without any brushing, and if I gave them the green light to bathe before brushing, they would inevitably forget the brushing part of the instructions.  So, I still tell most average owners to brush before bathing, as at least they will then sometimes do some brushing.  I do have some above average clients that are privy to this knowledge.

Some matts will never come out easily, and this trick doesn't always work.  Certain coat types are very cottony and the matts, no matter how clean and conditioned are a permanent fixture.  Sometimes I can't even tell until after a bath.  Some coats I predict I will have to shave, but will give one last ditch effort by heavily conditioning after the bath, and it turns out the tangles won't budge.  At least I try.  Then sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised by the result when the coat brushes out relatively easily.

The really impressive ones are definitely the double coated breeds.  Many of them appear to be a solid matted pelt.  We put them right in the tub, and all the undercoat, most of which was also matted, flys to the top and easily brushes out.  We'd never put a dog through a "dirty" brushing in this condition, we'd have to shave it.  That is seriously how much of a difference it is.  We still have to do some creative shaving on these dogs, usually in the rear end, and neck on stubborn matts, but for the most part, it's like the dog in the previous post, a huge transformation.  Also, any dogs with some sort of "wiry" texture to their coat will nearly always brush out after bathing.  So, this helps with really nice quality Poodles and Bichons (when I come across them), not to mention any Terriers . Of course, my own breed is supposed to have a harsh coat, so perhaps that is why it works so well on them.  If you have access to a high velocity dryer you can also sometimes "blast" apart matts, loosening them in the tub, which also helps with the brushing process.

I still rough in any dogs that will have alot of coat taken off in the end. There is just not enough time to dry all that.   I just chop (literally, it's not pretty by any means) coat off the top, and don't bother to brush out the matting before I bathe.  It is a huge savings on blades and shears to clip clean dogs as well.  Dirty hair dulls blades very quickly, and sharpening isn't cheap. 

I hope that if you are a groomer and haven't tried brushing tangles out of a clean dog, this post will encourage you to try it.   Those of you pet/show owners, that groom your own dogs and keep somewhat of a control on the matting should try it as well.    I promise it will be easier on you and your dog.

edit:  I want to be clear that I also completely (or very close to it) dry the dogs after bathing.  I don't brush them while they are wet.  In re-reading this I realize I wasn't clear on that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Praising the High Velocity Dryer

Many of you saw this dog's transformation on facebook, but I thought I needed to clarify some things, and the rest of the readers can enjoy as well.

This dog a very large,(bordering on small Collie) Sheltie came in to be groomed.  J groomed him last year.  Her notes state "what a mess, 9 months since last groom", followed by the breakdown of the price, including the very large de-matting charge.   

It's been 14 months this time, and obviously he hadn't been touched by a brush since the last groom.
This photo shows him after his bath.  He had incredible amounts of undercoat most of which was matted.  The dog didn't come in looking like this.  Shelties don't "usually" blow their coat out in tufts like some breeds (Lab/German Shepherd) do.  The undercoat stays in the coat until brushed out.  He was filthy, but the coat wasn't hanging like it is here.  In fact, from afar, you wouldn't even have known he was a mess.
The minute you put a hand on him however, you knew.. his undercoat lay in a thick carpet of matting along his skin.  Did I start out the groom by brushing him?  NO WAY!  He immediately went to the tub.  The combination of our Hydrosurge Bathing System (I still need to do a blog post about that baby)  and a high velocity blow dryer is what makes this job actually alot easier on me, but especially the dog.  After a thorough deep cleaning bath (ok, in his case 2 as he was too dirty for just one), and a conditioner that we leave in;  I toweled him off , then started the blowdryer.  That is one piece of equipment I couldn't do dogs like this without.  The dryer blows the matted undercoat (on this type of double coated breed) away from the skin.  On a shorter coated dog, such as a German Shepherd, the coat goes flying into the air, against the back of the tub, all over me, etc.  In this case with a longer coat, some of it blows out, but much of it stays hanging on the dog, which is where we get the look of the dog in the photo.   I probably spent around 15 minutes blowing coat out of him.  If you didn't use this type of dryer, and them moved him to a cage dryer, the coat would dry plastered to the skin, just like it was when it was dirty, though alot of  it would still brush out, it would be harder on the dog, since the dryer does the "brushing" with no pulling or tugging.  After a time in the cage dryer,  ( the dogs are always watched closely and the dryers have timers and are not hot, just warm)  we then put them on the table and start brushing.  That coat that is hanging there virtually falls out.  Then, what's left takes a bit more elbow grease.  After some brushing we go back to a high velocity, to finish getting all undercoat that is ready to blow.  This particular dog also got some creative clipping, as some matts were too tight to brush/blow out.  I shaved out inside his legs, all the way from his chest to his groin, behind his ears.  It didn't show, and I see no need to brush hair that is matted badly in those places.  The dog spent enough time on the table.
This is what I got out AFTER the bath.  This pile is about 3 inches deep.    I got a ton more out in the tub.
Luckily, this dog was ready to blow his coat.  By that, I mean it was "time" for his coat to shed out.  Some dogs undercoat is matted, but it's not the right time of year for that dog to shed out, and we can't get this much out.  We can only take what the dog can give us.  Timing is crucial, some people bring their dogs in at the wrong time, and they go out with a clean, de-matted dog, but he's still thick coated and in a month, the hair will by falling out everywhere.   When I talk to people about timing the groom for the best result, I tell them to gently tug on a chunk of their dogs coat, if it easily falls out, then it's time.  If not, maybe wait a bit.  Of course this dog should've been groomed 3 times before this groom, so it's not the best example.    Underneath the matting and undercoat was flaky unhealthy skin, luckily no sores, sometimes there are.  I can't imagine what that must feel like. 
Here he is all finished, a very satisfying transformation.  He was so good for all this, many dogs wouldn't have stood still for all that time.  When you touch him now, you can actually feel down to his skin.  he must feel so much better.
Regular brushing on these breeds (Once a week or even every 2 weeks) would keep them from ever getting this much undercoat, but of course, hardly anyone ever does it. During the time they are blowing coat, the amount of coat you can remove with the high velocity dryer is more than you'd ever be able to remove by brushing alone. I'd suggest people buy them for their dogs at home, they are somewhat inexpensive depending on the power, but the hair does fly everywhere when you use it, and I can't imagine anyone would even want that in their garage. 
These pictures show why sometimes when people with a double coated breed (German Shepherds, Huskies, Malamutes, Collies, Golden Retrievers) call and tell us, "he just needs a bath" we laugh.  We don't do "just a bath" on these breeds, they get a full groom.  In many ways they take longer than a poodle that comes in regularly for a haircut.
My suggestion to anyone with these breeds?  Find a groomer that can take care of your dog even twice a year, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

T. M. I.

Many times we find out things about our clients that we just don't want to know.  Friday was no exception.

A man brought in his dog for a groom, and immediately started apologizing that his wife wasn't there to drop the dog off.  Here comes the TMI part..  He then went on to say that his wife had eaten "too much licorice" and now had "the diarrhea".  Nice.  I'm sure his wife appreciates her intestinal distress issues being broadcast to virtual strangers. 

Of course, who knew that too much licorice can cause problems, other than sugar overload?  I guess that information could be helpful.  (?)  I do learn something new every day.   It must have been black licorice.. I hate black licorice.

Of course, the informational overload didn't stop there.  His wife sent a note.  We haven't had a good note in a while.

In case you can't quite read it, it says "Short all over.  Clean face please.  Some off tail - Just a trim there."  AND... the most important part "Just like last time- it was perfect"

So.. if it was perfect last time.. why waste all that effort writing a note, with detailed instructions when a "same as last time" would've sufficed?  Story of our lives. *sigh.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why I think retractable leashes should be outlawed.

I've been saying this for years.  I HATE retractable leashes. 

I have a friend that is a bit offended by this.  I guess there are people that know how to use them, or have dogs that are under control enough that they could use them.  Maybe there should be a class on how to use them.

What's the big deal, you may ask?  Perhaps you haven't seen what I see nearly every day.

Retractable  leashes are simple to use, right?  You just hold on to the handle and ZINGggg  (that's the sound it makes, in case you've never used one)... your dog can run out to the end, much farther than the boring, old fashioned, six foot leash.  Then, if your dog comes back towards you, it retracts back into the handle.. pretty slick feature... or so you think. 

Why the strange dislike of such an incredible invention?   If you really want to know, keep reading.   If not, maybe go check your facebook page, or do some online shopping.

 Most dogs are not under control.  At all.  So, giving them 30 odd FEET of leash, instead of the average 6, really doesn't work too well.  We have dogs come into our clinic on them all the time .  The dogs run everywhere, behind the counter, up to other dogs, etc.  No control, at all.  When I taught puppy class, people tried to use them to train their dogs.  Really?  We finally had to ban them from class.  It just wasn't working.

But, they have a LOCK on them, you say!!  A LOCK! So the dog doesn't have to have the full 30 feet!  Yeah, no one I know uses that lock.  In fact, when I am trying to avert a dogfight after being handed one of these leashes, I've locked them for the client, who then acts very offended that their baby cannot get any freedom when I do that.  It's immediately unlocked.  Who cares if your 8 month old Pug just ran up to a very large Pit Bull mix who doesn't like other dogs??  He needs his freedom!

At the very least I'd like to put a limit on the amount of retractable leashes one person can handle at a time.  I'd like that limit to be ONE (1).  We have one client who brings in 3.. wow, that's a handful.  She's actually one of the best retractable leash wranglers we see, but still there are some times when the dogs are so tangled up, it takes a while for us to get them separated. 

Dogs also get loose alot on these leashes.  They learn how to run as fast as they can to the end of them, then the large handle pops out of the unsuspecting owner's hand and it goes flying.  Then we have a dog running with a large plastic leash handle bang, bang, banging behind them, which makes them run all the faster. 

The other problem with these gems, and the reason I feel a class is in order to own one, is a simple one.  These leashes only retract if the dog actually comes  towards you.  If you in fact want your dog to come away from whatever danger the dog has decided to visit while on his leash, you have to get them to come to you.  So you have to walk towards the dog, and lock it, then walk towards them and lock it, repeat, repeat, repeat.  It's kind like reeling in a fish, but harder.  The average person has no concept of how to do this, so it never goes well.  It's hard enough to do this with one dog, but try doing it with two or three unruly dogs.  Now, that's entertaining.

Ever had a rope burn?  Well, see what happens if you (or worse yet, your child) grabs on to the cord part of the leash as the dog takes off.  Ouch.  Unsteady on your feet?  Some dogs will wrap the leash around and around their owners legs, and we have to help them out of it.  It's a sure fire way to break a hip, so please don't let Grandma use one.  They also tangle in dog's legs.  It's a great way for them to get hurt as well.

I have hated these leashes for a very long time, but recently J was told a story that made me swear them off forever.  She met a person who had actually lost part of their finger to a retractable leash.  She somehow got her finger tangled in the cord, and her very large Lab took off after something, and  part of her finger actually was pulled off!!  Yikes, that is insane! 

Yes, I know the main company known for making these leashes no longer uses the cord, and now have a "tape" type leash instead.  I wonder just how many people lost their fingers before that happened?  Pretty scary. 

Don't be offended by this post if you have no problems with your retractable leash and think it's the best thing since sliced bread, it just means your dog is actually trained.  I just don't get to see trained dogs very often.  This is possibly why I am so bitter.  I bet I'll find some readers that agree with me. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Things that made me smile, laugh and cry.

Again, it's been too long since my last blog post, so here is a quick recap of the highs and lows of the last few weeks.

What made me smile?  Well, lots of things, there is a reason I love my job.   1st off, there has been a huge influx of new puppies coming to me lately.  I love puppies.  They are difficult sometimes, but I love to hug them, smell their puppy breath and teach them things.  I had Shih Tzu babies, a Yorkie, a Havanese, to name a few.  It's fun to give them that first haircut, and to see the owners face, when they see the makeover. 

I had a new poodle puppy coming in with an elderly man.  He told me she "likes to nip" and he wanted me to be very careful when I groomed her.  It was her 1st groom, and he had been brushing her (YAY).  He knew what type of haircut he wanted, but he told me that I'd know better what girls need than him. :).  It was obvious this little spitfire was his pride and joy.  Before we parted ways and he left her with me.  He took me by the shoulders and looked right into my eyes, he said "if you do a good job I will give you $5 extra".  Then, he dug in his pocket and showed me the five dollar bill and said "maybe I should give it to you right now!".  I pushed away his money and told him to wait and see her haircut first.    He came to pick her up after I had left for the day, and no tip was left.  I didn't really think much of it, but I did wonder how he liked her haircut and her hot pink bows, when I came to work the next day.  I was called to the front later that morning, and there he was, with a big smile on his face and my five dollar bill.  He told me he loved the haircut and before he left, he gave me a big hug.  What a sweet guy.  I'm sure the smile never left my face the rest of the day.

Things that made me laugh?  The kid who told J that his Springer Spaniel was a "Secret Agent"!  HA!  I've no idea what that means, but it's just awesome!  Then there was the lady who has us put a mohawk on her small dog, but then wanted the beard left rounder, "so he doesn't look so mean".  Ok...

This made me laugh as well.
Check out those eyelashes!  This dog is only 8 months old!  How long will they get???

I love this one, my niece learning to groom thanks to J's incredibly patient Golden Retriever.  Love that dog!  She actually did a really good job on his feet!  Good thing she's only 11.. my knees wouldn't take kneeling on the cement for long.

Things that made me cry?

This week two clients lost very special dogs.  Both of them had been grooming clients since they were tiny pups.  One of them came for daycare every day for a year.  I hate that part of my job.  I've been grooming so long, I've seen some clients lose 2 or 3 pets now, I am privileged to have known them their whole lives. 

This also made me cry just today, but in a good way.

Good clients of mine had lost their older dog, and told me that the remaining one was having a hard time without her.  They were interested in a a certain breed, and sometimes I groom good rescue prospects for the local animal shelter, so I told her I'd keep her in mind, and let her know if any came through.

One did, he was around 5 or 6 and so incredibly sweet.  He did have some issues, he had horrible ear infections and his skin was not healthy at all.  The vet that saw him warned the shelter that his new owners would have to be made aware that these problems would likely be lifelong.  Not everyone can afford to care for a dog with chronic skin and ear problems, and not everyone is willing to deal with the constant medicating.  It made me sad that he might be overlooked at the shelter, or worse yet, go to a home that would continue neglecting him as he so obviously had been in the prior situation.

I thought about it, and decided to call my clients after all.  I told her of his problems, but also told her I wouldn't ever have considered calling her if he wasn't so sweet.  The hope was that with good care, he would become healthier to some extent.  She was excited, and said she would go over and take a look at him.  I never heard back from her, and didn't want to call and ask.  Maybe he wasn't a good fit, or maybe the state of his ears put her off. 

Today I groomed him!  The whole family loves him.  The best part?  His ears look like a normal dog's ears!!!  It's amazing, only a month later!  The vet couldn't believe it.  He does still have his skin allergies, but they are pretty minor.  I tear up just typing this.. he got a second chance with that family.  I'm so happy for them all.  As she left, she too gave me a hug, and said she couldn't thank me enough for finding them that wonderful dog.  I told her that he was really the lucky one, but I don't think she believes me.  

I love my job.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2 Simple Words

Thank you.

They mean more than most people think.  Sure, we were all taught to say please and thank you as kids, but sometimes adults fail to use those words enough.  It doesn't always "go without saying".

I had a stressful day.  Lots of huge stinky dogs, plus some unreasonable go home times. I ran from 8 AM til 3 PM.  That doesn't seem so long, you say, but I did 10 full grooms in that amount of time.  3 Golden retrievers.. one of which weighed 106 lbs (it should weigh 75).  All 3 had been swimming all summer long, stunk to high heaven and were quite matted. Plus the other 7, no easy baths for me today.  I would have loved to have ended my day at 4, but everyone was in a hurry.  I did what I had to do, and made it work.

One of the dogs I did was a new client.  A girl in her early 20's and her 10 month old smallish mixed breed puppy.  She had lots of instructions, and lots of bad things to say about the dog's last groom, done somewhere else.  Apparently the dog had to be shaved, but she admitted that the groomer had no other choice, as it was matted. She told me she had a comb, and they were doing their best to keep the coat up, so they wanted it left long.  She actually had been brushing.. imagine my relief.  I COULD actually give her what she wanted, at least I hoped I could.  She was pretty specific.  Her first idea was that she wanted the dog to be the exact length it was now.. for winter.  Uh..  he was shaved bald 4 months ago.. I explained.  Oh, yeah, well, she didn't want that.  I explained the way it would work, that a longer cut would mean more frequent grooms, as well as her continued work on brushing his coat at home.  She wanted the tail like a fan.. but not too short.  She wanted the face short.. it drags in his water, but not too short, still cute.  The last groomer made it look like a Schnauzer, they didn't want that.  She stated that she did not want his anal glands expressed.  I told her that glands are included in the groom, but that would be no problem if she didn't want it done.  She said, maybe  I could do it next time, "we'll see how this goes first".  I don't want him traumatized this time (this time?).   The last groomer said he was very well behaved, but when he got home, he slept for the rest of the day, she was concerned something had happened.  I explained that any time a dogs routine is changed, there is a certain amount of stress.  She seemed doubtful, and then I made her even more nervous, when I told her he would have to stay 4 hours.  I could tell this was an "test" grooming, and I better pass.. or we'd never see her again, and of course the next groomer would hear how badly I messed up.

The girl's boyfriend picked the dog up, and though she assured me that HE was the picky one, all he had to say when he picked him up was "he's really soft".  Ok... guessing I failed this one. 

The day went on, lifting heavy dogs, etc, etc.  Right about the time when I really didn't need to spend time on the phone, I was told that the dog's owner was on the phone wanting to speak with me.  Many times this isn't good.. complaints coming my way.  But no!  She was just calling to tell me thank you for doing such a great job on him!  His cut was great, and she anxiously awaited bringing him back to see me again!  WHAT?  My bad mood lifted.. like magic.   She didn't have to call, she could have waited til the next groom to tell me that she loved the last cut.  But she didn't, and I appreciate that.

I am lucky to work in a place where thank you's are frequent among my co-workers.  I try to remember to thank the person who helped me lift a heavy dog, or held one still for me, or cleaned the messy cage I couldn't get to.   We have an amazing maintenance man, who keeps everything running smoothly for us.   I appreciate my receptionists so much, they try very hard to help keep my schedule livable, I'm sure I don't thank them enough. 

It's amazing what those two little words can do. Never underestimate their power.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I'm telling you.. Doodle HELL.

This was a crazy week.  Our schedule has exploded into booked-solid madness.  That makes me happy.  It also makes me tired.  Hard work = bigger paycheck, it's easy math.

Tuesday actually wasn't crazy.  I was annoyed at the time, but I now appreciate that easy day.  I had 3 no shows, all new clients.   The truth about this kind of no show is that they couldn't get into their regular groomer, and went into panic mode.  Since we are one of the few places with more than one groomer, we generally can get people in sooner.  Invariably, these people get in at their regular place, and "forget" to cancel.  Really rude. 

The rest of the week was pretty nuts.  Lots of big messy dogs, lots of time consuming haircuts.  None was worse than Wednesday. 

I was a bit overbooked.  OF course, no one ever no shows when I'd like them to.  I was doing pretty well, until I went up front to take in a new "Golden Retriever Mix" client.  I was a bit shocked to see this:

I'm sad to say.. my poker face probably failed me.  I'm sure I completely gave away the fact that I was completely deflated by the realization that there was a Doodle attached to this Golden Retriever Mix's lineage.  Damn.   I kind of wanted to cry. This was the before.. It doesn't look that bad, and thankfully it was in decent shape, but I cut off 1/2 it's hair, and it was much more work than a Golden Mix that looked like a Golden would be.  Thankfully, the owner was not in a hurry, and the dog was perfectly behaved.  The correct term for this mix (actually I'm really happy the owner KNOWS it's a mix) would be Standard Poodle mix.  Yeah.. next time.

Just to show you that even the little ones were a mess on Wednesday.. here is a Westie.. before.  Nope, no time for an after shot, sorry.

This one shows just how dirty this little guy was, I refused to touch him with my clippers til he was bathed.  He lives on a cow farm.:

But then, in the midst of all the running around trying to stay on time, came the really crazy part of my day.  A request from the front desk to give a quote for a bath.  A BATH.. that should be quick, right?? RIGHT???

Me:  Hi, this is D, how can I help you.

Mr. Crazyperson:  Hi!!! (yep, with enthusiasm)  I have a Goldendoodle.  How much would you charge for a bath on her.  She really doesn't need any trimming yet.

Me:  Is she a puppy?

CP:  OH NO! (he starts talking a mile a minute)  She is 2 years old, smarter than any 50 year old.  (at this point I really wanted to ask if he was 50, I'm guessing so)  She's such a nice dog.  She rolled in the swamp the other day, and she was black up to her chest.  I had to drag her into the bathroom to clean her up. She hates the bathroom, I wonder why? (doesn't wait for a response).  I just think she needs a bath, how much would that be?

Me:  Well, what size is she? Do you know how much she weighs? 

CP:  How much she weighs??? HMM.. Maggie, How much do you weigh?? Why won't you tell me?? HAHA.. she is just like any other female.. she doesn't want to tell her weight.

Me:  (remember, I'm on a time schedule.. and I honestly have paraphrased the conversation up til now.. it was actually more wordy on his part)  Well, is she a full-sized Goldendoodle?  We do see Miniature ones.

CP: Oh, around 50 lbs.

I give him a price, then he asks for a full groom price, which takes another huge chunk of time while we talk in circles about the correct cut for a Goldendoodle.  I then try to pass him back to the receptionist.

Me:  Well, I don't have my schedule in front of me, so I'm going to have you speak to F again, and she will get that all sorted out. 

CP:  Oh, ok.  Well, I'd like to get in next Friday.  My daughter and I are going on a road trip and Maggie is going with us.  He then goes on to tell me the exact route, including which roads he will take.  Seriously?

I finally disengage myself from him after 10 minutes of this discussion.  When F came back later in the day, I asked her if she thought the guy was drunk, or at least had possible taken one to many trips to Starbucks that day?  She had the same problem with him.  She started the conversation out with "when would you like to make your appointment" and ended the conversation with a discussion on artificial insemination.  Yes, my friends, he wants to breed his Goldendoodle.  He told her he had been reading up on it, and knew that sometimes dogs just "aren't in the mood" and you were forced to artificially inseminate.  He then went on to tell her all about how the semen is obtained.  Really?? It made my road trip story seem like the better end of the deal.

He did make the appointment.  I can't wait to see this guy in person.  It should be very interesting! I'm kind of scared.  Of course, who knows if he will actually show up.

Have a great weekend! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Anatomy Lesson and Randomness

1st, Randomness.  I've been too busy for blogging lately, so better catch up on these random thoughts before they leave my brain.

This past week was my birthday, and one of my awesome friends gave me this hilarious card

The inside says: Have a great birthday, any way you cut it!.

It's been extremely hot here, a few days it even made it to 100 degrees.  This makes everyone crabby, just FYI.   One client who walked into the clinic from the inferno which was the great outdoors told the receptionist:  "You people sure aren't afraid to use the air conditioner, BRR!"  Really?  The receptionist went and checked the temp.. it was 72.  Perhaps she'd rather her dog stayed somewhere that wasn't air conditioned?  Wow.

The receptionists called back to the grooming room, saying that there was a new client on the phone, who wanted to find out if we could do a certain haircut, before he made an appointment.  I figured for sure he had a Basenjidoodle, and wanted it in a puppy cut.  Instead he had a Golden Retriever, that he wanted shaved.  "Have you ever done that cut?"... "Yes, we do that cut all the time".  " You know, the one where the body and legs are shaved, and the tail is left longer? You have to leave the tail longer or the dog will go crazy." "Yes, we can do that (I ignore the tail comment)"  Well, I just need to know that someone can do it that has done this cut before, I don't want a hack job from someone who is just starting out".  "Yes, both J and I have been here over 20 years each, and we both can do that groom for you"  "Ok, I was just checking".

Would you believe after all that, he never even made an appointment?  He wanted to get in next week.. no way he can get in that soon.  *Sigh* I wish he would've started with that small detail, it would have saved us both some precious time.

Just to show you what lengths my clients go to cut down on their dog's shedding, here is a before and after.

No, really.  This IS the before~!  I have to shave this dog! 

TA DA!  What a huge difference! ;)  Hey, I do what they pay me to do, what can I say.  They tell me it cuts down on the shedding SO MUCH.  Whatever floats your boat, I guess..

And finally, best crazy client story of the week.  Warning: actual use (and some slang) of anatomy names to follow, don't read if you are easily offended by such things.

There was an appointment on the books which said that the client had requested that a technician do the dog's anal glands, and also that they should shave the dog's vulva.  When the client came in, she nervously started dancing around the subject, saying that the dog had trouble if "her rear" wasn't shaved close due to a skin issue. 

I just let her talk, which apparently made her nervous and wonder if I knew exactly what she meant.  So, she said, "You know... well, I don't even know what to call it...  Where she pees?"  I finally took pity on her and said, " Yes, her vulva needs to be closely shaved".  "Does the clinic need to do that? I always do that as a rule with her grooming." 

The client said that would be fine, but then leaned in to whisper to me.  "Just make sure you do it really short, the clinic did it so short last time, you could see her balls." (??????)

I just smiled and said, Ok.  It's been a long week.  When I relayed the story to my kennel helper for the day, she said "does she mean the dog's ovaries?"  That would be REALLY short! HA!  I needed that laugh. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Most interesting (?) grooming instructions to date, and randomness.

1st, randomness.

The Cocker from the this post was adopted the very next day, by a really nice guy, who has told me he will be bringing him back for grooming with me.  I'm so glad he is well-loved.  Apparently the dog is "scary perfect" housebroken, loves the Grandkids, and never barks.  Why are these dogs at humane societies?  I don't have a clue, but I'm so grateful there are places like this to help unwanted pets. 

I groomed the Weinerschnitzel.. they were wrong, it was really a WeinerSHITzel.  No, he wasn't mixed with a Shih Tzu.. he was just a very naughty dog.   I groomed 3 Dachshunds that day, and only one didn't have to be muzzled.  I'm just not a fan of the Weinershitzels..

And finally, the instructions I was given for a Maltese.  Even better, these instructions were given to me in a strong Texas accent.

"Do his face really short.  When you are done, he should look like one of those Harp Seals.   You know the ones they hit over the head with a club to kill them?"  O... K...  sure.. I know that haircut.   The guy loved this dog..don't worry.  After I had the tiny little canine in my arms the owner had to go in for a kiss on the dog's face.  It was a bit too much in my bubble.  If I would've had time, I would have handed him back for the kissing part.  By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late.  I think I was still picturing the death of a baby Harp Seal.. it's hard to shake that image.  T.G.I.F.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'm really not in the mood.

Today's little slice of crazy.

A new employee of ours came back to ask me for a quote on a dog, as the owner waited on the phone.

Me:  What kind of dog is it?

H:  A Weinerschnitzel.

Me:  Uh.. what is that? 

H:  Weinerdog something?  I'm not sure.   It sounds like they just want a bath and nail trim. 

Me:  I better talk to them, It could be a long-haired dog or something..

H: Line one.

Me:  Hi, this is D, one of the groomers, H tells me you would like to know how much for a grooming on your dog.  What type of dog is it?

Client:  A little Weinerschnitzel.

Me:  Uh.. I'm afraid I don't know what that is.

Client:  Oh, ha ha, a Dachshund.

Me:  A Dachshund mix? 

Client:  No, a purebred Dachshund.

She said Weinerschnitzel so seriously, both H and I thought she had some designer breed.. Wow.  I just don't have time for this crap.  Really.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Can you fix this?

Sometimes, they try to pretend nothing is wrong (like I'm not going to notice!).

Sometimes, they blame their husband.

Sometimes, they tell me how they just didn't have money for a grooming last month, so they thought they'd try it themselves.

Can you fix this? 

Most of the time.. not really, but we try.  We do have a decent amount of people who will try and then fail to groom their own dogs. Then, after spending all that time (most will tell us it took all day), they must pay us to fix the haircut.  If the dog is lucky, there was no bloodshed. 

Some don't even go out and buy a clipper.  Here is a prime example of a home SCISSOR trimmed dog.

It kind of resembles a turtle shell.. I should've made this a "guess what this is" game.

Anyone know what kind of dog this is?

There's a little wider view.  The dog came in looking like this.. no trimming had started yet.  The problem was that those line were right down to the skin!  Sadly, there was no way to get it completely smooth, short of Nair.

There were still faint lines in the coat.  A #10 blade was used.  Going any shorter would've been pretty bald.

It was a Shih Tzu, by the way.  Oh well, at least they left the face alone for the most part.

I saw this cartoon on Facebook recently, that says it all:

Sad, but sometimes true, though I do have customers that do a pretty good job of haircuts at home to cut costs.  I do understand needing to save some money, just know, grooming is not as easy as it looks!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Crouching Groomer, Hidden Dog's Head...

That's my caption for the following photo.  That's J, grooming a gigantic Shepherd Mix who couldn't stand well.  She finished his groom on the floor.. in that crouched position!

J told me she would like the caption to be:  I'm getting too old for this shit!  She also wanted it noted that she is 52 years old.  I guess groomers stay pretty flexible. :)  I've written about it before, we do what we have to do.  That dog just couldn't safely stand on the table.. so this is what happened.  Luckily, he was fine with relaxing and lay flat like that for her. 

J had a pretty rough day today.  Here is another one of her challenges:

This picture does NOT do this mess justice.  It looked like one of those long curly haired sheep.. or maybe a small Yak.  It was actually an American Eskimo.. with the coat of two Samoyeds.  the owner gave strict orders that she wanted NOTHING cut on this dog.. she gets it groomed once a year.  She brought her other dog along today as well.  It didn't have an appointment.  She thought maybe J could just fit that one in too.  Uh.. not a chance. It was just as bad.  When J let her know that she would at least have to shave out the huge matts behind his ears, she said "well, I better go home and work on the other ones ears, so you won't have to do that to her!!"  Maybe, you could brush your dog for a better reason than that, like it JUST NEEDS BRUSHING?? Maybe??

Here he is after.. wow. 

Here is the hair that came out.  There was another huge pile in the tub.

Here's one of mine.  A shelter dog, I donated a groom for.  My guess is this little guy is only around 9 months old.  He was PERFECT for his grooming, and I am certain it was his 1st ever.  Someone will get a really great dog when the adopt him!

Here he is before:

He had a little excess facial hair....

And, after...

So freaking cute!!

If you or anyone you know is looking for a dog, visit your local shelter.. you will be surprised what you find there! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dodging the question

Our clients have a knack for answering a direct question with an answer that has nothing to do with the question.

Here is a prime example:

I was given the number of a potential new client with a St. Bernard.  I needed to call them to give a quote.  Giving quotes over the phone are difficult in the best situations.  With a large hairy breed like this one, it's nearly impossible.  The range of size, coat type, and of course coat condition can vary.  Most of all, owners are either in complete denial about the condition and or size of their dog, or  they downright lie to us to get a lower quote.  We have to carefully draw out all the information we can before giving them a price range.

I started out with the usual questions. She even knew exactly how much her dog weighed: 165 pounds.  She even told me what type of coat he had, somewhere between a smooth coat and a rough coat.. but closer to smooth. Only his tail was a mess, due to the burrs on their property, however he had never been professionally groomed before. 

Then I asked the magic question.

 Do you brush him? 

*silence*  I wait.

Well, we live on a farm out in the country.

Uh.. that is not what I asked.. I'm going to take that as a big fat NO.  I tried asking a few different ways.  Of course what I REALLY wanted to know was if the dog was used to being handled.  A farm dog St. Bernard doesn't always do so great with handling, because they just don't have to at home.  Many of them have never been on a leash.  I charge extra for physical effort.. I could do 3 Shih Tzus and NOT have a back ache afterwards. 

I heard all about how the dog "acts just like a puppy" (not what I like in a giant breed) and how he "loves people", and even "he just likes to lay on the couch".  The last comment gave me hope that he wouldn't be completely filthy when he came in. 

I gave her a quote, warning her that it was just a guess, and that after I saw the dog, I'd give her a more accurate price.  For those wondering, it was over $100 at the high end.  She gave me no reaction to make me think I had shocked her, but she had to ask her husband, so we will see. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Customer is always right?

First of all.. so sorry.. it's been a really long time since my last post.  I'm  sorry because this post will be an extra crabby one.

Most of the time, my clients are very happy with their groomings.  If they need a fix here and there, we deal with it.  Maybe I left the ears too long, or we got our wires crossed on the instructions.  It's all good.. I'm human, and certainly make mistakes.  I realize people are paying good money for their pet's grooming, and I do my best to make them happy.  Sometimes, it seems, that is just not possible.

Many times the miscommunication is in my translation of what the client wants.  It is very helpful if they actually KNOW what they want.  I don't need to know what the last groomer cleverly named your dog's haircut, that really doesn't help me.  Just describe what you want, what it looked like, and how long ago the last groom was. 

Recently I groomed a Yorkie that I hadn't seen before.  The customer gave me one instruction: Give her a puppy cut.  Puppy Cut.  Everyone thinks that means something to me.  It doesn't.   It only means something to the groomer who last groomed it.   To some people a puppy cut is long and fluffy, just neaten up the feet and face.  Some think it's shaved bald.  Most are somewhere in between.  I then ask lots of questions, explaining that everyone has a different idea of what a puppy cut is.  The only Puppy Cut I learned to do, is a the scissored conformation Poodle cut for the show ring. 

Most are fine with it, and tell me to the best of their ability what they want.  This lady was not playing that game.  She looked at me like I had just landed from Mars. How stupid I must be.. inexperienced even, to not know what a simple puppy cut was.  I tried to get her to tell me what I needed to know, but got very little help.  She kept saying the last groomer gave it a puppy cut, that is what I want.  I decided on a longer fluffy trim, which on a thinner coated Yorkie isn't the easiest, but I really didn't think she wanted it short.  I brought her to the owner with pink bows in her hair.  OH she looks adorable, you did a great job.. She even tipped me. 

One day later.  I happen to be up front when she comes back in.  She addresses the receptionist, insisting that she get her money back on this awful grooming.  EVERYONE says it looks like she did it herself.  She is ushered into a room and I join her to find out what the trouble is.  Once more, she says she doesn't have time to discuss it, and wants her money back.  I tell her I'm sorry she is unhappy and ask what the problem is, perhaps I can fix it.  Does she want it shorter?  NO!  I wanted a puppy cut, which you obviously can't do, which is why I will never be back!  I ask once more to describe what she wanted, she refuses.  She goes on to tell me again, that EVERYONE thinks it looks awful, and when she picked up the dog, she didn't notice it, but as soon as she got home, she did.  I offer once more to bring the dog in the back and neaten it dice.  No, I don't have time for this, I'm moving and I just want my money back.  I say that if it's too short, perhaps she'd like to come back in 3 weeks and I'll give her a free bath/brush and neaten.  NO, I wanted a puppy cut and you just can't do that, obviously.  I gave her money back.  I hate to do that.  I feel like giving her that money just told her that I agreed that the haircut was crappy.  Giving her that money will not make her come back.  It will not stop her from telling her friends of the rotten haircut she got from me.  Sometimes, you just have to give in, of course, but I wish there would've been a better option.  I can't see into people's minds.. which makes it hard to do that perfect groom.  The funniest thing she said was that the dog obviously loves me (she was very excited to see me), but she wanted a good haircut.  It made me think she would've liked to see the dog cower.. then she could have accused me of also being mean to her dog.  It's so frustrating.

J had a similar problem recently.  The client she had to deal with, was one she said she knew from the start it wasn't going to go well.  This client wanted her dog to look scruffy.  Last time, she said the dog's head was taken too short.  She said "I like it just how it is".  The dog was also matted, it had been 3 months since the last groom.  Right off the bat she had to tell her that the dog would have to be shorter today, there wasn't much of a choice.  

"I like him scruffy".  A very popular request.  I'm sorry.. I went to grooming school to learn to DEscruff (probably not a word) dogs.  Why get your dog groomed if you like it " just how it is".?  J showed me the dog's head, which apparently had been taken too short last time.  It was quite short.. compared to the rest of the body.  I guarantee you the dog had gotten a home haircut on it's head at home, it was very uneven and much shorter than 3 month growth.  After much discussion she decided to leave the head.. just took off two small stringy pieces over the eyes.  She took a very long time on that dog, she tried hard to make it like the owner wanted it. 

J left before the dog went home.  She called right away in the morning. She hated the haircut, it was too short on the head!!???   What the heck??  I was J's witness... she never even trimmed anything on the head!  She ranted to the receptionist, and then wanted to come in to discuss it further with J.  The woman was so irate that a manager even joined them in the room, to try and calm the situation.  The woman  ranted on and on.. never letting J or the manager answer any of the angry questions she had.  Of course she denied knowing about any matting.. she brushes the dog every day, why would there be matting??  They further discussed the head.. she insisted it had been trimmed.  She then went on to accuse J of letting someone else groom the dog, maybe an apprentice?   It's our word against theirs, what can you do?  Arguing gets you nowhere.   J never even got a chance to offer to try and fix it.   Lucky for J, this customer did not ask for money back.  Of course she left in a huff, insisting she would tell everyone she knew about the haircut she received.  I have no doubt she will, but as crazy as she seemed, I'm not sure many will listen. 

Thankfully, these examples are rare.  However, they do tend to take the wind out of our sails for a bit, making us second guess every snip of the scissors.  It would be really helpful to be a mind reader sometimes. 

So, how would you deal with customers like these?  Money back?  No money back?  Have you had a similar situation happen when it was you that was dissatisfied?  If so, is there something the business did to make you want to give them a second chance?   Do you feel the "Customer is always right rule" should always apply?  I'd love some input on this. 

I promise to make my next post positive!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A tale of two Lazy Clients.

These are recent phone conversations I just had to share.

The first call comes via one of our sainted receptionists.  I don't envy them their job. 

Latesleeper:  Hi, I need to make an appointment for Tuesday for my dog.

Saint J:  Ok, well, D has an 8 AM appointment available for that day.

LS:  WHAT!  Tuesday is my day off!  I'd like to sleep in that day!  Can't I come later??

St. J:  I'm sorry that is all she has available for Tuesday.

LS: Well, forget it then! *CLICK*

......20 minutes later.....

LS:  Hi, I need to make an appointment for my dog on Tuesday, do you still have that 8 AM appointment available? 

St. J:  Yes, it's still there, do you want it?

LS: I guess so.  <annoyed tone of voice>  I had no idea everyone in town is so busy this week!

What the heck? So, she called everyone else in town, and no one could give her what she wanted.   Do these people do this when they call the dentist's office? 

The second call was one I was involved in.  I had called an owner whose dog I had on the table at the time, to ask a question about the haircut.  After we settled that question, the conversation took a turn for the crazy.

Client:  How do her ears look today?  She has been scratching at them.

D: They actually look really good.  However, I can't see down inside the ear canal, and if she continues to be bothered by her ears, she should see the Dr.

C:  You know.. I've been meaning to talk to you about that.  You know I've been seeing the new Dr.  (she now starts to whisper)  I don't mean to get you in the middle of all this..

(OH BOY, I'm thinking , HERE it comes, what could've happened??)

C:  She told me that I needed to clean my dog's ears every week.

D:  (silence ... I don't really have any clue what is so wrong with that request)

C:  I don't want to do that!  I used to always just let you clean them every month when she got groomed.

D:  <Wow>  Well, certainly  weekly ear cleaning goes with good pet care.... especially if your dog is prone to ear problems.

I don't even remember how this call ended... I was so shocked that she would fault a Vet for suggesting basic care.  SIGH.  Come ON people!

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm Living In Doodle HELL.

Are you sick of hearing Doodle stories yet?? Sorry, it seems like that is all I groom lately! 

I groomed a black Goldendoodle for the first time the other day.  They gave me the "don'tmakeitlooklikeapoodle" comment, then the "Ilikeitscruffy" as well.  So helpful. It had never been groomed before, and it was around 8 months old.  Lucky for me it was perfectly behaved (A minor miracle) and the owner had actually been brushing her (???)!  I told her that I was fairly certain the cut I would give her would seem quite short to her, as the dog had 6 inch long hair right now.  Short of doing a full scissored trim (which I don't ever enjoy doing, especially on a puppy) which would cost many, many dollars to the client, my choice is our longest blade, which leaves it about 1 1/2 inches, still plenty of fluff.  I explained as best I could what I would be doing.  I would scissor the head so it would look "just like it is, but shorter".. still hair on the face, which seems to be important when you own a doodle.  The coat came off looking like plush black velvet underneath!  The dog was adorable, and everyone at work thought so.  I missed the go home, but the front desk told me they "laughed" (probably due to the hot pink bows in her ears) but seemed pleased that they wouldn't have all the hair to deal with. 

Late in the week, their neighbor came in. The neighbor has a Goldendoodle as well, and it's why these people got this puppy.  The receptionist asked what they thought of the pup's groom.   He said "Well, I think it looks great, but they think the head is too long".  She encouraged him to tell the pup's owner to bring her back in so I could shorten it.  They brought it in today.  I was thinking.. maybe due to my valiant effort to "leave it scruffy", I just left the head too long.

The dog arrived, and I was shocked that they thought there was a problem.. it still looked adorable and very in proportion to the rest of the haircut.

Me:  What seems to be the trouble, is it too long?

Doodleowner:  Well... I just LOVE the body length (remember, I was worried it would be too short), it looks JUST like a Golden Retriever .  What the heck??? The dog is black and CURLY!!!!!)  But, could you shorten up the head, so it doesn't look so much like a poodle?

Me:  (ignoring the poodle remark)  Ok, so would you want the top of the head to match the body length?

D.O.:  Well... I don't know, what do you think?  At this point, I wanted to say... IT LOOKS CUTE RIGHT NOW!! 

Me:  Hmm.. well many people like more of a Schnauzer look to these dogs, we could leave short eyebrows, and trim up the beard.

D.O.: Weeell... What does a Golden Retriever's face look like??  REALLLY?????? You wanted a Goldendoodle, which you want to look like a Golden, but you don't even know what a Golden looks like?  ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!  Who doesn't know what a Golden looks like??   The sad thing is, their last dog was a Golden mix (just a mix.. not a doodle or anything cool) that looked like a small Golden Retriever.  Apparently they forgot what she looked like.

I talked her out (actually flat out refused) of trying to make it look like a Golden.. mostly because the dog looks NOTHING like a Golden.  Crazy.. I know. I should just try harder.  Plus, if I were to make it look like a Golden's face, that would mean clipping the hair off the face.  Here's a news flash:  Poodles have shaved faces!!!!!!!!  I have no idea if she really liked what I did. I hope so.. but it's extremely hard to figure out what kind of look she wants, when she doesn't know herself. 

"Give it a Labra/Goldendoodle haircut" is not an viable instruction for me.  Sadly, when I try to explain that MIXed breeds can have any haircut you want, they look at me like I'm an idiot, and I obviously don't know how to groom their "breed" of dog.  I may need to go back to school.. Remedial Doodle Grooming 101.  Anyone know where I can take it online??

Thursday, April 12, 2012


This is a Doodle.  A BERNER Doodle.  For those unaware of such a rare breed, it's a cross between a Standard Poodle, and a Bernese Mountain Dog.   This guy is only 7 months old, and was extremely sweet.  I shudder to think of what they had to pay for this dog.  If you can pay $800 to $1500 for a LABradoodle..and Labradors are a dime a dozen, what possibly must a pup out of a relatively rarer breed cost?  P.S. The receptionist had to call me and have me personally give a quote.. as for some reason, this breed isn't on our pricelist!

Ok, I forgot to take a side view before I started clipping, but this is a pretty good "before".  My only instructions????? DON'T make him look like a Poodle.  The last place that groomed him, shaved him down like a Poodle.  Really?  The only other piece of information I was given was, "I like him scruffy".    As you can see, the coloring of a Bernese Mountain Dog didn't come through on this dog.  His "tan" markings are very faint.  I guess a really brilliant black, tan and white would've been kind of cool, but to me he looks like any other Doodle. 

I sure hope he doesn't look like a Poodle.. Maybe a huge Bichon??  Probably not scruffy enough.  I left before he went home, I will have to wait til tomorrow to find out how the go home went.  Bernerdoodle or not, he was a very good boy, so I hope he keeps coming back.  For the record, J is convinced he is just a Goldendoodle that came out with strange coloring, and they chose to call him a Bernerdoodle so they could get more money.  Who knows..maybe he is a Rottidoodle, or a Gordondoodle, maybe even a Dobedoodle??

I think once (I'm totally kidding here) AKC allows Doodles to be registered, they will have to have their own group.  I mean, would the Goldendoodles be in the Sporting, or Non-sporting group?? There are just too many, they can have their own group.   There will be Staffydoodles, and Mastiffdoodles, Afghandoodles and Komondoodles. 

Last minute edit:  I forgot.. problems I found with this new breed.  He sheds!  What the heck?? Oh, wait, Berners shed.. Yep, my comb found lots of undercoat.  Also, he has tons of ear hair... from his Poodle parent, obviously.  Too bad they haven't found a way to weed out these traits.  ;) I guess it's back to the genetic roulette wheel!