How do I even begin?
It's been a long week. I've had to deal with lots of "interesting" phone calls and customers.
Today, was the worst. T.G.I.F.
Today, I spent part of the day afraid. Yes, ME. Afraid of a dog. Scared enough to make me sweat. This is very, very rare. I lliterally can count on one hand how many dogs have had this affect on me. I have a healthy respect for some dogs, and what they could be capable of, but there are few that I truly believe could or would injure me.
This dog's owner called me to see if I'd even consider trying to groom him. Let's give her kudos for that. She actually told the TRUTH about what her dog was like. He's been getting groomed by the same groomer for his whole life.. 13 years. This groomer suddenly quit, so she was left trying to find someone to take him on. The groomer at least had been honest with her as well. Many times groomers tell owners what they want to hear, that their precious pup is PERFECT for the groom. This doesn't do the owner any good, they then move on to the next groomer and are SHOCKED when their perfect baby takes someones hand off. The groomer had been able to groom him as long as "things were his idea". What this means (at least what it means to me) is that he's the kind of dog that you don't push. If he gets angry, you must back down, and try a different approach. Being a dominant bitch (yep, I just called myself a bitch) with this dog was not going to work. They are past the point of training. I've had a few of these in my day. If you can learn the combination to what works for them, you will be ok. Sadly, the groomer wasn't there to ask what would work best for him. The owner also admitted that the vets had a horrible time with him, and "once he's done, it's all over, you won't be able to do anything with him". OK. Duly noted.
I spoke with her about the possibility of sedation, and she agreed that may be necessary. I took him from her, and her parting words made me realize that there would certainly be some kind of a problem. "Don't let him bite you, if he does it really hurts and he draws blood". Good to know.. your dog's been biting you as well. I asked if he let people pick him up, and she said.. I "think" so.
I wasn't taking any chances, and had someone help me muzzle him. He was not a fan. Once up on the table, he was fine. Seriously.. not bad for feet, or nails, or anything! It was crazy. He just stood there. I decided not to push my luck and didn't remove the muzzle til after the bath, which left his face unfinished. I updated the owner and was optimistic we were in the clear. Then I went to finish him. He wasn't having any of me lifting him out of the cage. So, I carefully guided him to the floor and went to get a muzzle. While attempting to muzzle him, his teeth grazed my hand. No warning, no growling. This was the exact way J landed in surgery to fix nerve damage caused by this exact breed biting her. I got help, and we got him muzzled. Then things got really fun. I picked him up and he sprayed diarrhea everywhere, including down my leg. Great. He then urinated and rolled in it trying to get away from me. Back to the tub we went. I told J, this would be the last unsedated groom he'd have. Then, back on the table he was back to perfection. I even did his face completely after removing the muzzle. He was calm, and not threatening at all. SO strange. Unpredictable dogs are the worst. I told the owner that we would not guarantee future grooms would happen without sedation, but I'm still not sure. I just need to figure out how he likes to be picked up. I KNOW the owner wouldn't do it for me. She is obviously afraid of her Man Made Monster.
Yes, he's a breed known for aggression/brattiness. He's a Lhasa Apso. However, somewhere along the line it would've been nice for someone to say NO to him, preferably when he was 5 months old. (average age of a Man Made Monster's start of being a brat)
J fielded a call from someone who has a similar problem, luckily on a much younger dog. Hopefully we can nip this problem in the bud. It's a 7 month old Shih Tzu who has been to the (insert big box pet store name) groomer 3 times. Not once has he gotten a hair cut. He's been sent home for bad behavior. Now, I don't really blame those groomers. I could never groom in a fish bowl, with all the world watching how I handle the dogs. I'm not mean to them. I'm not abusing them. But, the dogs sometimes act that way, and to the uneducated onlooker, it sure might seem as though I am. Puppies SCREAM, like bloody murder scream. Sometimes it's just because I'm holding their foot, or holding the clipper near their head. If I stopped every time one screamed, no dog would ever get groomed. Within moments it's over, on dog's that have not been training humans for a while. The dogs realize nothing hurts, they still have all their legs, and they are alive. We move on. Praise for the relaxed puppy.
Problem? This puppy now believes that throwing a fit makes it all go away. Why?? Because it has worked! Puppies are not dumb. The owner has been "trying" to groom it and have it listen to a clipper themselves. J asked them to please stop. It never works well with the novice owner. They can't be hard hearted and listen to the screamy pup. They give in, and the puppy takes one more step towards a life of muzzled or worse yet, sedated groomings. Not ok. J is off the day they are coming in. I will take on the challenge of the pup, I sure hope it is a quick study.
We had another Monster in today whose owners had obviously "tried and failed" to groom it. The obvious part was in just how bad the behavior was. Screaming, fighting, biting. When J tried to talk to them about it, recommending an obedience class at the very least (the dog had to be taken into a quiet room to remove it's collar at the front desk, it was so out of control) she got a blank stare. The owner was somewhat offended that she even suggest it, as the dog is perfectly behaved at home. sigh. Of course it is.
It wasn't all rotten today.. we had fun with cute, nice dogs.
Happy Summer Solstice!