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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

To Call or Not to call...

I have had a policy in my shop ever since I opened 23 years ago.
What is the policy?
If for any reason we have to do something different to the dog then was talked about at check-in, I insist that they are called first and told about the change, BEFORE anything is done.

So what is the problem?
It has been an on going debate between my husband and myself for years.
Now my daughter has joined my husbands side.

We don't argue, it is just one of those debates that comes up every time I ask my husband to call a customer about something I have found on the dog, or want to change.

It came up again today.

This is 'Spike'.
He comes in every 4 weeks.
His Mom LOVES his long ears.
'Spike' is fighting an ear infection.
One of his ears is full of greasy ear medication and is matted.

Now, you must understand that 'Spike' HATES to have any mats brushes out.
He HATES his nails to clipped.
He HATES when you lift his tail.
He will scream if you look at him funny.

Brushing out greasy mats is not an option.

A neighbor brought 'Spike' in today, and did not mention the ear.
Because 'Spike comes in every 4 weeks, my husband did not bother to check him over at check-in.

When I got him on the table, and saw his ear, I told my husband to call the owner and let her know that I would have to take the ear short.

"Why?" my husband said.
"Because I want her okay." I said.
"She does not have any choice Mom." my daughter said.
My husband agreed. "She knows he has a bad ear. She is the one who has been putting the medicine in."
"I know." I said, very exasperated."But I want you to call her any way."
I turned and gave them both 'the look'.
"She loves his long ears. I want her to know I have to cut them short. Please call her." I said again.
"She will be alright with it. Do I really have to call her?" My husband said.
(Daughter is shaking her head.)
"YES, I don't want to cut his ear before you tell her." I said.
"I don't know why we always have to call, if you have to cut out the mats you have to cut out the mats." My husband countered.
"What is she going to do Mom, tell you no?" added my daughter.
"You both know I just want the owner to know ahead of time. I want her to have time to let it sink in that I am going to shorten the ears.", I explained for the thousandth time.
"You could always explain when she comes to pick up." said both my husband and daughter.
"Nooooo, there is always the chance she may say no.", I countered.
"And what would you do if she said no?", my daughter said.
I smiled and said; "Then I will groom the dog and send it home with a matted ear."
My husband smirked, and said; "No you wouldn't."
I gave my husband a sweet smile and said; "Your right I wouldn't, because you are going to call her and explain how she has no choice and that it is the most humane thing to do for her dog because we don't want to hurt him."
My husband turn and went to call 'Spike's" mom.
My daughter and I looked at each other, she shook her head, I said; "I don't know why you two always argue with me about this.

"Spike' is very happy that I did not demat his ear. Any other time I would have. It was just too greasy. Even after using my best decreasing shampoo.

I think he looks cute with his short ears.Mom did not have a lot to say about his ears when she saw them.
I am sure she will either like them or hate them.

We will see in 4 weeks.
Will she want me to do the same?
Will she want me to let the ears grow long again?
I have a feeling she will want them long again.

I WILL call again. I will always call, just in that off chance that someone would say no.
Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just not sure

I am just not sure about this Hydro Surge.
I had seen the booth at Hershey for the past couple of years.
I finally broke down and signed up to lease one.

You lease the Hydro Surge for $20 a month, and they keep up the maintenance, and any repairs.
You also have to sign up to buy at least 2 gallons of their shampoo a month.

The Pros:
* Not having to mix shampoo for each dog.
*Faster wash time, specifically with large dogs. ( major pro )
*No wasted shampoo.

The Cons: ( so far )
*Not being able to use the shampoos I LIKE with this system. ( major con )


*Water splashes back off the dog and all over me.

*Having a really hard time not hand washing, and letting the Hydro Surge do the work.
*Do not like using it on the faces. Afraid the shampoo/water mix will go in the eyes.
* Did not like two of the shampoos I ordered.
*Not all of the dogs seem as clean as they could be.
*Tub fills with suds very fast.
* I think it uses A LOT of water.

The cons sure do out weigh the pros.

I really could work around the cons if only I could use the shampoo I like, and know works.
If I do use my shampoos, it breeches the lease contract.
It could also clog up the Hydro Surge, because of the wrong concentration.

This is 'Wheaton' after being bathed with the Hydro Surge. (before the clip)
I only used the Hydro Surge. I did not hand wash.
Boy, was that hard.
He was clean, but not clean enough for me.
His hair just seemed very, slightly tacky.
I know I could get him cleaner with my hands.

After work today, I washed my Standard with the Hydro Surge.
She was dirty and over grown.

So much for getting time to do my own dogs. :)

I washed her twice.
I went over her with just the Hydro Surge first, using their Cleansing Shampoo.
(I liked that shampoo)
Then I went over her again with the Hydro Surge, and scrubbed with my free hand at the same time.
I will admit, I did two bathes in the time it would have taken me to do one hand wash.

She was very clean.

I have only used the Hydro Surge for two days so far.
I think I will give it at least two weeks before I decide.
I can return it at any time.
Not being able to use the shampoos I love, and know work, could really be the deciding factor.

Why do companies make things so difficult?
I know it is a business, and they want to sell their own shampoo.
I am not asking for much.
Just let me use MY OWN SHAMPOO.
Hydro Surge is a nice system.
I like it better then using recycled dirty water.
I could even live with being soaking wet all day.

Okay, I think I will go pull my hair out now. :p
Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Doodle Days

Everyday I get more and more calls for grooming Doodles.
And, everyday it gets easier and easier to turn them away.

I don't charge enough to do them.

Okay, OKAY!...Stop yelling at me.
My large dog prices have always been out of whack.

It seems that word has gotten around that we do really good grooms on Doodles for cheaper than anyone else in my area.

Believe me, this was not done on purpose.
We book months in advance.
I was NOT looking for more work, especially Doodles.

I truly believe that a groomer should charge what the work is worth.
I don't know what is wrong with me.
I always buckle at the last minute, and charge less then I know I should.

I need help.

It also comes from owning my shop for 23 years, and not raising prices EVERY year.
Please do not make my mistake.
Raise your prices every year, even if only by a $1 or 2, it adds up over time.

There is nothing like getting a call from a Doodle owner wanting an appointment, and willing to wait for 8 weeks or more because my prices are cheaper.

So things are about to change.
I have one of two options.

Option One:
*Charge by the hour.
*Charge extra if it takes more then two people to lift the dog into the tub.
*Charge extra if the Doodle gets you wet...all the way down to your underwear.
*Charge extra if the Doodle refuses to stand in the tub.
*Charge extra if the Doodle refuses to stand on the drying table.
 *Charge extra if the Doodle owner insists that you hand scissor a short but shaggy cut.
*Charge extra if the Doodle owner brings in grooming instructions from the internet.
*Charge extra if the Doodle is as large as a small pony.
 *Charge extra, extra just because the owner bought a PURE BREED DOODLE!

I don't know about you, but I am up to around $550.

Lets see...
I could make a Doodle Day once a month.
4 Doodles x $550 = $ 2200
I could work with that.
I would want the next day off.

Option Two:

Happy Grooming, MFF

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My new Backboard

"Your what?", you ask.

Let me explain.

I have back issues.
I have had them since the birth of my daughter.
It is the Anesthesiologist's fault. (Long story)

Anyway, I just can no longer stretch across the grooming table to reach those dogs who love to stand as far away from you as possible.
So, I came up with the idea to make a smaller work area on my grooming table, and bring the dog closer to me.
I cannot tell you how this backboard has saved my back.
I am sure that anyone who as taken the time to look at some of the pictures on my blog, have seen my current backboard that has seen better days.
The structure of the old backboard is holding up.
Cosmetically, not so much.

So, yesterday after work I went to Home Depot and got the supplies for my new backboard.
Even though the other backboard was working fine the way it was, I decided to change the new one up a little.
Because, I felt like it.
Because, I could.
Because, I just wanted to.
Because, I just can't leave well enough alone.

3- 1"x 12"x 3' Shelf  @ $18
(cut one shelf into 2-12"x 12" pieces)
       8- 12"x12" floor tiles @ $8 
3- Pipe Insulation tubes @ $5
2- 2pk mending Plates @ $9
1- 4pk Large Corner Braces @ $7
2- 4pk Med. Corner Braces @ $9
1- 1"x3' Tapered Molding @ $5
Total: $61 

Step 1:
Take one 1"x 12"x 3' shelf and lay it on a flat, firm surface.
Take the tapered molding, and place the 1" edge  up against one side edge of the shelf.
Make sure the ends are lined up evenly, then attach with the 4 mending plates.
Remember, you are working on the underside of the floor of the backboard.
Hint: Place something under the tapered edge of the mold to keep it firm and in place while drilling in the screws.

  Now,flip the board over.
You should have a nice flat floor that tapers in the front.
This is so there is no sharp, one inch, drop off that the dog would step off of if you wished to move the backboard back for some extra work space.  

Step 2:
Take 3 of the floor tiles and carefully stick them on the shelf part of the floor.

The tapered part of the wood will still show. 

Step 3:

Attach the second shelf to the back edge of the floor.
Use the 4 Large Corner Braces to do this.

< This is what the underside of the floor piece will look like.

This is the side view >

Step 4:

Take your next 3 floor tiles and place them on the backboard.
Hint: There will be a little over hang of the tile.
You can cut it off with a utility knife.

Step 5:

Take the 12"x 12" piece of shelf and cover it with one of the floor tiles.

Attach the 12"x 12" board to the end of the backboard with 4 of the medium Corner Braces.

This is what it should look like.  >

Repeat on the other end.

Hint: Step 5 is optional. If you like the ends of your table to be open, so that you can work from the sides of your table, ignore this step.

Step 6:

Take the Pipe Insulation, open the precut slit and place insulation over the sharp edge.
This Pipe Insulation is self-stick.

Repeat on all top edges.

This is the finished product.

It is amazing how much reducing my work surface, and the amount of space that the dog can back away, helps keep my back from hurting.
I like having the dogs right up close to me while I work on them.
If I am working on a larger dog, I can simply move the backboard all of the way back, to give me more table top space.
If I have a very large dog, I can take the backboard all of the way off of my table.

I also added a wire bin to the side of my backboard to hold my scissors and brushes.

Oh, and while I was at it...

I put up my Hydro Surge that I got from Hershey.
I'll let you know if I like it, and decide to keep it.
It was a very productive night.
Happy Grooming,MFF

Friday, September 24, 2010

Can you leave her hair curly?

That was a request from one of my customers today.
She is a customer who has been with me since before I opened my shop 23 years ago.
This is her third dog.
The first one was a very sweet short hair Shepard mix.
The second one was a very sweet Shepard/Span mix.
They waited almost two years to get another dog.

They rescued a St. Poodle.
This is 'Sasha'.
This is another very sweet dog.

Today was the second time I groomed her.
Her owners really liked the way I groomed her the first time, they just wanted to change one thing...

They asked if I could keep her curly.

She looked like crushed velvet after her blow dry and hair cut last time.
"We really liked the way she looked after she went out in the rain and came in all curly."

Well, I could have done this the easy way.
Bathe her, cage dry her, then clip her.
I have not cage dried a dog in 11 years.
I can't stand scissoring a dog that has not been fluff dried.
Especially a Poodle.

So, this is the way I made her curly.

I bathed her and HV dried her.

 Then I clipped her body with a 3F blade, clipped her legs with a 3/4 blade.
I then scissored her up all over.

Now the hard part.
It really killed me to do this next step.
My customers just do not understand what they ask of me sometimes.
It is just not right to keep a Poodle curly.
Really, it's not.
Okay, can you tell I am still not over it.
Time to curl her up again.

 I filled my trusty spray bottle with water and just a little bit of finishing spray.
Then...Uhg...I sprayed her all over.

 I sprayed her just enough to make her hair curl.
Then I ran my fingers all through her hair.

I rubbed her down with a paper towel to get off any excess water.
Then I used the paper towel to wipe my tears.
Just kidding.

 I used my hand drier and my figures to get her dry.

Then I used a wide tooth comb to comb her out one more time.

Okay, that is about as curly as I go.
If they want more curl, they will just have to put her out in the rain again.

And worst of all?
I forgot to tell them not to tell anyone where they got her groomed. :)
Happy Grooming, MFF 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Grooming Table

I moved it again!
I am one of those people that just can't leave well enough along.
About every 6 months I need to rearrange something.
My Bedroom.
My Living Room.
My Computer area.

My Grooming Table.

I moved my Grooming Table  again today.
It has been in about 4 different places in my shop.

Against the wall.
By the window.
In the middle of the room.
My table has been in each one of these places at least a half a dozen times in the last 10 years.

Well, today I moved it back in front of the window again.
I like being by the window, because of the extra light.
I seem to need as much light as possible now a days.
The old eyes aren't what they used to be.

I had kennels in front of the window so that my dogs could look out during the day...
they rarely did.
I was in front of this window a year ago, but I got tired of  people tapping on the window.
So I moved back to the middle of the room, next to my daughters table.
That worked fine, but it was just a little too cramped.

And I need light.
A lot of light.
Oh, I said that already.

So, now I am in front of the window again.
I will shoot the first person who taps on my window.
No, I won't.

Yes, I will.

Can't they see I have sharp tools in my hand.

Anyway, I am trying it again.

I like being in my own little corner.

I really like the dresser I got from Ikea last year.
Of course I have already filled all of the drawers.

Note to self: Clean out your drawers.

I also bought some new lights to put next to my grooming table.

Of course the window light is not enough.
I think I am going blind.
Note to self #2: Go to eye doctor.

I put the track lights on either side of my table.
I like the lights because each individual light can be moved all around.
I can aim the light right where I want it.
Oh, and the lights also have a dimmer.

Please excuse the backboard on my table.
It has seen better days.
That is my next project.
Note to self #3: Make new backboard for my table.

This is where my table used to be.

Can't wait to start grooming in my new area.
I know, I was there before.
But that was a year ago.
Just let me pretend that it is a new area.
It helps make me feel ready to groom again.
Try it.
Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Angry FOR the customer

I have a very strict rule in my shop.
No one does anything to a dog that the owner did not ask for.

Today I had a good customer of mine come in with her Sheltie.
The first thing she said was, "Brody had a bad hair cut."

Bad haircut?

No, Brody had been to a kennel while his owners went on vacation.
When the owners checked 'Brody' in, they were asked if they would like 'Brody' to have a bath before they picked him up.
His owner said, "yes, just bathe him."

When 'Brody's' owners came to pick him up, they were shocked and very upset when they saw him.
Physically, he was fine but, all of his feathering had been cut off.
The rear feathering was gone.
The front leg furnishings were very short.
His belly was very short.
His tail was extremely short!

'Brody's' Mom and Dad were so upset that the owner of the kennel called them the night they picked 'Brody' up to apologize.
The kennel owner explained that the groomer thought that she was doing the owners a favor by cutting back 'Brody's' hair because he was so thick and had so much hair.

Now, 'Brody' does have a very thick coat, and he always seems to have more than his fair share of undercoat.
'Brody's' owners love his coat left natural.

I have been grooming 'Brody' for 4 years, and his groom has always been the same.
Bath, comb out, and ONLY trim the feet.
DO NOT touch his feathering.

Even when I was new to grooming, I never just did whatever I wanted on a customers dog.
If I thought something would look nice on their dog, I ALWAYS got permission first.

This is 'Brody' when he came in.
We put him straight in the tub.
He use to have beautiful long furnishings.

This is 'Brody' after the bath and blowdry.

This is what his tail looks like now.

His owners want his coat to grow back in.

It was growing in very uneven.

I used thinning shears to try to soften the sharp scissored line, and make it look a little more natural as it grows back in.

I am not sure what happened to his tail.

'Brody' rarely ever has any mats in him.
My file says that I only found mats in him one time in 4 years, and that was between his legs.

Once again, I used thinning shears to try to fix the tail so it would grow back evenly.

'Brody' is older now, and his coat had never been cut before, so I told the owners that they would have to give it a little time.
I am not sure it will ever grow back to as long as it was.

Don't get me wrong, the other groomer did not do a bad job.
I trim out lines on Shelties all of the time.

My issue was that she DID NOT ASK the owner if it was okay to do, BEFORE she did it.

I have owned 2 Collies.
I never cut anything on them other than their feet.
If I had left them somewhere and someone decided that they were doing me a favor by shortening my dogs coat without asking first...

 I would blow my mind at them.
I was angry for the owner.

I have always felt that the owner is paying me.
They are the ones who have to live with the dog.
So, as long as they don't ask for anything harmful, I will do what they want on their dog.

Of course, sometimes owners ask for a cut that looks awful on their dog.
That is when I pray as they are going out the door.

"Please God, don't let them tell anyone where they got their dog groomed!"
Happy Grooming, MFF