About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Using a Flat Iron

After 26 years of grooming, I Love trying new things.
Or finding new ways to groom.
Especially those light bulb moments.
The times you read a grooming post, or see a grooming demonstration, and you think...
I can't believe I didn't think of that!
How stupid am I?
I can't believe I have been doing things the hard way all of this time.
I am sure I am not the only one.
I hope I am not the only one.

Well, I get mad at myself for about 5 minutes.
Feel stupid.
THEN, I can't wait to try what I learned.

This is 'Osito'.
He is a Havanese.
He is SO sweet.

This is 'Osito' after he has been bathed with Show Seasons, and blow dried as straight as I could get him.
As you can see he is one fuzzy dog.

I love the Show Seasons.
His Mom brings it in for him.

'Osito' is the only Show Dog I groom.
He is the only one I have ever groomed.
I will tell you, I am not crazy about that responsibility.
'Osito's' Mom is new to the Show world, and it is too political for me.
I don't ever want to be responsible for him not winning.

When I signed up for the Groom Expo in Hershey a couple of weeks ago, I went to the Judges rules to make sure my dog qualified.
I also wanted to make sure that I knew all of the rules.
While reading, I came across a reference to using a Flat Iron.

"Curling and Flat Irons are permitted."

That was a light bulb moment.

Use a Flat Iron on a dog?
Why hadn't I thought of that?
Really, sometimes I wonder about myself.
The first dog I thought of, was 'Osito'.
His Mom always asks me to get him as straight as I can.

Well , I went right out an bought a Flat Iron.
I got lucky too.
It is back to school time, and there were a ton to choose from.
I picked one that you can control the temperature.
It also came with a Mini Flat Iron. :))

I could not wait till 'Osito" came in again.

Bare with me. A lot of this grooming  was trial and error.

I also made sure that I was being as careful as I could.

"Osito' stood there like a statue!

If he had not been so good or moved too much, he would have stayed fuzzy.

I never let the Flat Iron touch the skin.
(Common sense)

I parted the hair down his back first.
Then I made sure he was mat free.

I started at his rear leg, and worked with small sections. I worked my way up the leg.

I used a hair clip to hold up the hair I wanted to keep out of the way.

I started at a low Tempeature, and slowly set it higher, till I liked the look of the hair.

This particular Flat Iron puts moisture back into the hair.

I moved the Iron slowly, never allowing it to sit in one place.

Look how good he is being. :))

One side done.

You can see the fuzzy hair sticking up on the other side of the part.
I could have done more, but I was being a little conservative for my first time.

 On the left: Before the Flat Iron.

On the right: After the Flat Iron.

<- Back leg: Before

Back leg: After ->

Next time I will use a little higher setting.

His Mom was thrilled.
I had fun.
'Osito' was great.

Using the Flat Iron only took me an extra 20 minutes.
Did I mention, I had fun.

I love grooming.
I love when everything turns out right.
I love when the owner is happy. 

"Osito' has won once before.
I hope he wins again!

Happy Grooming, MFF

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Puppy Cut...on a Cocker!

I went to Grooming School (100 years ago), no not really, it was just 26 years ago.
Boy, a lot has changed.
Like the fact that I would have never even have thought of doing a puppy cut on a Cocker Spaniel back then, and for a long time after.

When I went to grooming school, I was taught that a Cocker only got one of two cuts.
A Cocker Style or a #7 strip.
With a #7 skip tooth blade!
Uhg! It makes my blood run cold.

My grooming kit came with a #15, #10, #7skip tooth, a brush, a comb, and one pair of scissors. (right handed shears, I am left handed)
Oh, and the guillotine nail clippers.
As far as I knew, they were the only blades that existed.

After school, I discover the other blades.
And F blades!
I have never gone back to the skip tooth.

Anyway, for years, if a customer asked for their cocker to have a longer 'Puppy Cut' I would immediately tell them it was not possible.
"Your dog will look choppy and awful."
"Their hair was not made for that type of cut."
"You can only get a Cocker cut or a #7 strip."

Of course, back then I only cage dried dogs. 
Cage dries coats do not scissor well.
Another of my Grooming School lessons.
I really can't say when my attitude changed.
I am pretty sure it changed after I attened an all day seminar at Hershey.

It was a seminar given by Marlene Romani (Clipper Vac)
It was one of the best all day seminars I had ever attened.

Now,please understand, I had been grooming around 10 or more years by then.
I knew everything.
I had my own shop.
I was booking out a few months in advance.
I did not have time for seminars.
They cost too much.

Why did I go to her seminar?
Well, I was going to go Mobile.
I wanted to see if there was a faster way to dry dogs.
Without cage dryers.

No, I did not have a HV dryer.
I had seen one once.
At Intergroom.
I had only been grooming for a year.
A man at one of the booths showed me 'The New Way to Dry'
A High Velocity  Dryer.
He told me to put my had in front of the hose and he turned it on.
OMG, there was no way I was going to use THAT on a dog.
It would blow them off the table.

That was the end of that!
My narrow mind was never going to use THAT dryer.

Oh what a fool I was.
10 or so years of cage drying, using a stand dryer, and destroying my hands and wrists.

Marlene's Seminar changed that.
I started drying all of my dogs straight from the tub.
I stopped clipping before the bath.
I started using clip combs, scissoring more and more.
I loved the new way I was grooming.
I always did the best I could on every dog, but now they looked BETTER.

Now I scissor 'Puppy Cuts' on Cockers.

This is 'Dasie"
She has been bathed and HV dried.

Mom's instructions:
I like her the way she looks now.
Just shorten her a little. Not quite half off.
No cocker ears.
Smooth on top of her head.
Clip her face.

I choose to Hand Scissor her.
I could have used a clip comb, but Hand Scissoring for me is faster.

She has great hair for scissoring.
(After I HV it!) LOL

To think, years ago, I would not even have considered doing this cut on a Cocker.

I first clipped her face and cheeks with a #7F in reverse.
I have found, that for me, the #7F in reverse leaves a smoother finish.

I then touch the face up with the Cordless Chromado, set on #15.

I also clip out the inside of the ears with the #15.

Before and After
What a sweet girl!
What a joy to groom.
I could do 10 of her in a day.

Keep your mind open to new things.
Try them out before you dismiss them.
Go to Educational Seminars.
There are always NEW things to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming, or how much you think you know!

'Dasie's' Grooming:
Body & Legs: Hand Scissor a little less then half off
Ears: Blend into head, clip inside of ears with #15 blade, scissor to neaten
Head: #4F blade, blend into ears and neck
Face: clip clean with #7F in reverse, neaten with #15

Oh and...

Leave the curl on the tail!



Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, August 27, 2010

Am I Crazy?

Yes, I guess I am.

I willingly take hard to handle dogs.
Dogs that have been thrown out of other shops.
Scared, fearful, and nervous dogs.
Most of the time I have no problem working with these dogs.
It just takes a little extra time, and a lot of talking and loving.
I am pretty good at reading a dog, and working through their problems.

Every once in a while I get a dog in like the one today.

This is 'Fluffy'.  (Name has been changed to protect me.)

It has been 5 months since I groomed him last.
'Fuffy' was over grown and matted.
His face is very matted.

'Fluffy' is not a fear biter.
He is not nervous.
He is actually very calm, until...

He has one of his mad rages.
 They come out of the blue.
For no apparent reason.
Then watch out, because he is out for blood.
He has to be muzzled for most of the grooming.

You know there are going to be problems when the owner backs away as you pick their dog up and he growls.

For most of the groom he sits there just fine.

THEN, without any warning...

He strikes!
When he does this I just wait for the rage to pass.

Then I continue grooming.
The muzzle actually helps to keep him settled.
The last couple time I groomed him, we got along fine.
He had to be muzzled for working on the body, but would let me work on his face without the muzzle.

Today was different.

Maybe it was a full moon.
Maybe he missed a meal this morning.
Maybe he got up on the wrong side of his dog bed today.
MAYBE he just had a taste for blood.
(His owners should really stop letting him watch those Vampire movies.)

After I was finished clipping his body, I took off the muzzle to work on his head.

My first sign that this was not going to go well?...

He grabbed the paper towel out of my hand and tore it to shreds when I tried to wipe the slobber off of his face.

We moved on, and he let me clip the mats off of his head.
Everything was going fine.

He was fine.


He flipped.
I held on.
He went for blood.
He was not going to stop until he bit something.

He did.

As you can see, in the back ground, he is sitting calmly once again waiting for me to finish.
While trying to calm him, and unsuccessfully keep him from biting me, he was also ripping the cr*p out of my other arm.

In his frenzy to bite me, he also bit his own tongue.
It looked like a blood bath.

I spent 5 minutes, slowly putting the muzzle back on.
I finished the face the best I could.

What makes a dog, with such a cute face, want to eat someone alive one minute, then sit there and let you rub and pet him all over as if nothing happened the next?

Here, he is just about finished.
I say 'just about', because I could not leave well enough alone.

After I took off the muzzle again, I tried to scissor around his mouth a little.

He let me scissor a little, but common sense won out, and I stopped before he could bite the scissors and really hurt himself.

I did not like the way the face looked.
The owners loved it. :)

Oh..my brush also survived, barely...

He tried really hard to bite it in half before I was able to save it.

Yes, I gave him another appointment.
Yes, I will groom him again.

Happy grooming,MFF

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I want Poodle Feet & Face...but DON't shave!

When I first started grooming years ago, this statement would have brought me to tears.
"DON'T shave?"
Well of course you SHAVE Poodle feet and Poodle faces!
"What do mean you want poodle feet and face, but you don't want me to shave them?!"
I would have stood there looking at the dog, not knowing what to do.

That is how I was taught in Grooming School.
The problem was, that Grooming School didn't prepare you for all of the strange requests that owners would come up with.
Like the most famous of all statements...
' I want him short, BUT not shaved.'

If only I had a dollar for every time an owner said that to me.

What does that statement mean?
I have found that it means you need to ask a lot more questions...
 Pick that hair up on the back and make them physically show you how much they want off their dog.

I have had A LOT of strange requests in 26 years.

Today I groomed 'Buddy', a beautiful retired show Standard Poodle.
His new owner adopted him late last year.
I used to groom their other Standard before he pasted away a couple of years ago.
They came back to have me groom 'Buddy'.
When I first saw 'Buddy', the breeder had shaved everything off for some reason.
'Buddy' was just growing back in.
His first couple of grooms were just bath and trims.
When we finally got around to a full grooming, his Mom wanted the Poodle look, along with Poodle feet and face.
BUT, she did not want his face or feet shaved.
She liked his face a little fuzzy, and he licked his feet when they were shaved, so don't shave.

Ooook. Here is what I did.

 After 'Buddy was bathed and dried, I brushed and fluffed up his feet.

I took a # 7F blade and clipped the sides and top of his feet against the grain.
Do not go between the toes or into the webbing with the #7F.
( I do not recommend using a skip tooth #7. I feel a skip tooth, any number blade, is too dangerous to use. )

I lightly cleaned out his pads with my trusty Wahl cordless Chromado, set on the #30 setting.

 I then separate the toes and very lightly skim the #30 to get any long airs between the toes.

Next, I lightly skim off the stray hairs around the nails.
This is also done with the Chromado set on the #30 setting.

Lastly, I lightly brush the hair against the grain on the foot and neaten up with scissors.

This type of foot take less time to do then shaving.

His foot still looks like a poodle foot, but it is not shaved.
His Mom also reports that he no longer licks his feet.

 Now on to the face.

'Buddy' gets a Lamb #4F, so I also use the #4F on his face.
I clip his face with the #4F blade against the grain.
Be very careful around the lip line.

After clipping the face, I comb the hair up and scissor the face to give it a nice neat finish.

After I finish scissoring, I use the Wahl cordless to lightly scoop out around the corner of the eyes.
I also neaten up the stop a little, going with the grain.
Blend in with scissors if needed.

This is 'Buddies' fuzzy poodle face.
His Mom loves it.

I think 'Buddy likes it too!
What a doll.
I love this dog.

Buddy's Grooming: 
Body: #4F blade
Legs: 3/4 blade and scissor
Feet: #7F blade against the grain on top and sides of feet. #30 lightly between pads and scissor to neaten up
Face: poodle face with #4F against the grain and scissor
Ears: 3/4 blade and scissor to shape
Head: Tight poodle topknot, scissored
Happy Grooming, MFF

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wet Shaving

Wet Shaving can really come in handy for groomers that don't like clipping a dirty dog before the bath.

Wet Shaving? What is that you ask?

Wet Shaving is exactly what it sounds like, you shave a dog while it is wet.

In my case, I have found that the blade glides through the coat if I shave the dog after the first wash, with the shampoo still on the dog.
I have tried both ways.
With the shampoo rinsed off, and with the shampoo still on.
I prefer, the shampoo still on the dog.

What kind of dogs do I Wet Shave you ask?

Well, to be honest I don't Wet Shave all that often. A lot of my customers are regulars. 
When I do have one of the dogs listed below come in, it's GREAT.
Wet Shaving is great for:
Once-a-year clip downs
Matted dogs
Pelted dogs
Really dirty dogs

I groomed 'Joey' the other day.
He is a Standard Poodle.
It has been a little over a year since I last groomed 'Joey'.
He was a perfect candidate for a Wet Shave.
Over grown, matted, and very dirty.

I am sorry that I did not think to take a picture of 'Joey' before the bath.
Just picture a big, giant, hairy bear.

I soaped up 'Joey' very well all over, working the shampoo in well to the skin.
I noticed that the matting was not tight to the skin, so I started with a #4F blade.
(I would work my way down till I found a blade that would glide through the coat easily and safely.)
The #4F worked great. It glided right through the coat.

I keep the dogs in the tub.
I have a tub grate that they stand on so that they are not standing in any water.
My clipper is plugged into a grounded outlet, outside of the bathing room.
My cord is also kept outside of the tub.

The clipper glides through the soapy, wet, matted hair very easily.
The blade stays nice and cool.
There is no fighting to cut through dirty hair.

It took me a little over 10 minutes to clip the hair off of his body.
As you can see, the hair came off in one piece on this dog.
The hair will not always come off in one piece on every dog.

After clipping his body, I gave him one more quick shampooing. 

Now, here is where any groomer reading this blog would yell at me.

I did not Wet Shave the legs on this dog.
I have a sickness...
I can't help it.
I've tried.

I like to leave the legs a little longer then the body whenever possible.
I know, I know.
'Joey' has not been groomed in a YEAR.
The owners don't deserve it.
I know!

But..'Joey's legs, believe it or not, were not very matted.
I knew that I could get a 3/4 blade through the legs without dematting them.

I HV dried 'Joey' straight from the bath.
I ran the #4F over his body again.
I clipped his legs with the 3/4 blade and then scissored them.

I did not do it for the owners, I did it for my own sickness.
I have a thing for shaved, stick legs.
I hate them.

'Joey's' legs are still too short for me, but I think they are a good length for a owner that does not regularly groom their dog.

One more thing about Wet Shaving... 
It is very important to CLEAN and DRY your blade(s) and clipper RIGHT after you finish Wet Shaving.

 I first spray my blade, all over, while it is still running, with Cool Lube.

I have found that the trick to using Cool Lube, is to shake off, and blow the excess Cool Lube off the blade.

I pull the blade completely apart and wipe it dry all over.
I use a flat head screw driver to slide the cutting blade back into place.

I also wipe down and clean out my clipper.
The clipper and blade work fine after Wet Shaving.
(The one time that I did not clean my blade right away, it became dull.)

I am pleased with 'Joey's' Wet Shave grooming.
He came out velvety soft.

Oh...I know the ears are uneven.
I fixed them after the picture was taken. :)

Joey's Groom:
Body: Wet Shave with #4F blade, follow up after the bath with #4F again.
Legs: 3/4 blade after the bath and scissor.
Face: #15 setting on the cordless Wahl Chromado
Feet: # 40 setting on the cordless Wahl Chromado
Head: scissor topknot
Ears: Even up

Happy Grooming, MFF