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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Ugly part of Grooming

I wrote this blog entery yesterday when I was still going through my mini panic attack or whatever you want to call it.
Whatever it was, it is not like me.
I am usually a positive person.
Till something happens that drives me crazy.
I have always had a problem with confrontation and being accused of something that I did not do. 
I over reacct.
I can't help it.
As my family always tells me, I can be over dramatic.
I almost deleted this blog entry because it probably makes me sound like a crazy person, but I decided to go ahead and post it.
I am sure that there are other groomers out there that have been accused of something they did not do and have felt the same way I feel.
Then again, maybe not.
It may just be me.
After getting a 1/2 hour lecture from my daughter about my negative attitude, I am better today. 

Did I ever tell you I was dropped on my head as a baby?  :)

I have always had pets.
It started with my mother who is an animal lover also.
My Mom had cats and a CollieX when I was little. 
My Mom told me that I was always carrying the cats around.
She also told me that I was naturally gentle with them.
When I was around 2 years old, and my Mom was pregnant with my sister, the CollieX  saved my Mother and my sister.
My Mom was sitting on an upper deck outside reading, with the dog sleeping at her feet, when the dog suddenly stood up in front of my Mom.
A shot rang out and the dog went down.
The police never found out who shot the gun, but figured that it may have been kids playing with a gun.
The dog survived.

I became the kid who was always finding strays and bring dogs and cats home with me.
Yes, I was sure that I was going to grow up and become a Veterinarian.
I ended up getting into Art.
So after High School I went to work for a Vet.
I lasted 3 weeks.
It was too depressing for me.
I wanted to help animals.

In the three weeks that I worked for the Vet, a dog came in that had been hit by a car and could not be saved.
There was a very old poodle mix that was hooked up to IV's and comatose for the full three weeks that I worked there.
There was an 8 week old, very sick kitten that a man had bought from a pet store and was desperately trying to save it.
It didn't look good.
I think the finial straw was when a man and his young son came in to put their old dog to sleep.
I can still see them crying in the lobby.
I just could not harden myself to all the sadness.

Kudos to those who become Vets and Vet techs.
It is a job that I could not do.
I went on to work at a Bank.
I did not think that there were any other animal related jobs out there.
I had never heard of a groomer or knew of grooming shops.
I had always washed and brushed my dogs and cats myself.
My Dad didn't believe in spending money on animals, other then to feed them.

After two years of working at the bank, one of my co-workers came in one day and told me about a friend of hers that was going to Dog Grooming School.
"Dog Grooming School?" I asked. "What is that?"
"She is going to clean and cut dog's hair," she explained.

That night I looked for the Grooming School in the phone book.
By the end of the week I had enrolled and given my two week notice at the Bank.
I didn't drive yet, so I took two buses to the School everyday.
My course was 10 weeks.
10 weeks!
At the time, I thought that was a long time.
It should be longer.
During that time I read every dog related book that I could find.
I was determined to be the best groomer I could be.
I knew this was going to be my career.

I was offered a job at the Grooming School after I graduated.
Boy, could I tell stories of my time there.
I only stayed about 5 months.
Then one day, for some reason, the owner of the School decided to stay in the grooming room to do some paper work instead of going to her office.

There was a very sweet Dachshund in that day.
It was a barker.
Suddenly after yelling at the dog to shut up a couple of times, the owner of the school got up, opened the cage door, and punched  the dog in the face.

I found a new job that weekend and did not give two weeks notice.
I had heard stories, but had not witnessed anything like this before.
I am also ashamed to say that I did not do anything about it other then quit.
My only excuse is that I was 20 and had know idea how to report something like this.

For the next three years I worked at three different shops, always leaving because I did not like the way some of the dogs were treated or how I was treated.
I wanted desperately to open my own shop where the dogs and the groomers were treated right.

I have worked very hard for the last 26 years building a very good reputation.
My customers have all come from word of mouth, I do not advertise my grooming, other then a phone book ad.
When I opened my shop, my father told me that most businesses fail in the first year.
I was young, I felt like I could do anything.

I learned very quickly that not all groomers looked at grooming the way I did.
I really can not remember how many groomers I have hired over the years.
Some did not last for more then two days because I thought they were too rough.
Sad to say, they truly did not know what I was talking about when I told them they were too rough.
Some left because I would not pay under the table.
Some could not show up for work on time to save their lives.

Over the years I have had three really good groomers.
I lost all of them to starting families, they no longer groom.
I have very strong feelings on how a dog or cat should be treated.
I treat every one of them like they are my own.
Even the ones that get on my nerves.
I am no Saint, I get upset, but I know the boundaries.
I know when to put the dog away and walk away.
I know when not to push the grooming.
AND, I have know problem telling an owner that I was unable to do part of the groom because it upset their dog, but we would try again the next time.

I love the challenge of training a bad dog to enjoy the groom.
I love grooming a dog that may have started out as a terror, work with it, teach it that the grooming isn't scary.
I love to have the dogs go home, not only clean and well groomed, but also happy.
Nothing makes my day more then when one of my four legged customers run in the door happy to see me.

Nothing upsets me more then when a customer thinks that I have done something to hurt their dog.

I know this blog entry has been long winded and you are most likely wondering what I am rambling about.
I am writing about the Pomeranian that I groomed and blogged about on Friday.

This was her after the bath and HV drying, and before I fluff dried her.
She is a sweet easy groom.
One of the kind of dogs that you would be happy to groom 10 of them in a day.

Imagine my surprise, when Saturday morning the phone rings and the Pom's owner wants to know if something happened during the groom because, as of Saturday morning, the Pom was hiding under her table and would not let anyone touch it.

Are you kidding me.
Of course nothing happened and if it had the owner would have been told.
I don't like surprises.
I face things up front.
I make sure that every dog is taken very good care of while in my care.

The Pom went home happy and well.
By the owners own admittance, the dog was fine and happy the rest of the day after they picked her up.

I can't explain how much this upset me.
I know there are groomers out there that injure dogs because of their carelessness.
I also know that accidents can happen to good groomers.
That is why they are called accidents.

But how does a groomer defend themselves when nothing happened, but a customer thinks something did.
In my experience, Vets seem to also love to blame the groomer when they have no answers as to why a dog is suddenly in pain, and they know it was recently groomed.

As groomers who have read my blog know, I preach all of the time about taking pictures to cover your butt if an owner complains about how short you took their dog because of matting, or if you find sores, save the scabs to show owners so that they know you did not cut the dog.

So what do you do if the dog was in fairly good shape, the grooming went smoothly, and the dog went home happy, THEN the customer calls because the dog is not acting right.

I posted the question on petgroomer.com last night; Do I need to start video tapping my grooms to cover my butt?
MY ANSWER: In this day and age, I think so.
I have nothing to hide.
I groom in front of my big shop window.
Anyone can look in at any time.

There is nothing that upsets me more than anything then to be accused of doing something that I did not do.
I have always been this way.
So this upset me more then I can say.
I have actually looked into setting up cameras in my grooming room and bathing room.
I want to be able to pull a tape, show a customer that nothing happened, and tell them to find someone else to blame.

Can you tell I am still upset?
This is the Ugly part of grooming.

Happy Grooming, MFF  (I really mean it)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Husband vs. Wife

Do you ever get those customers where the wife and the husband do not agree on how they want their dog groomed.
One will drop off the dog and tell you how to groom it, and then the other will come to pick up and get upset because the dog was not groomed the way they want it.
I learned a long time ago not play this game with people.

For years I used to groom a Maltese in full coat.
This dogs coat was to the floor.
He never had a single mat in him.
At first the wife used to drop the dog off all of the time, then one day her husband brought the dog in.

"Shave him!" the husband said as I took the dog from him.
"Shave him!?" I asked dumbfounded. "You want me to cut his hair short?"
"I can't stand all that damn hair," the husband said as he turned and walked out of the door.

Not one minute later the phone started to ring.
"My Furry Friends, can I help you?" I answered, with the dog still in my arms.
"Hi, this is Mrs. M. Did my husband drop the dog off yet?" the Maltese's Mom asked.
" Yes, he just left," I informed her.
"Did he tell you to shave my dog!?" she asked.
"Yes, you don't really want him shaved do you?" I asked laughing.
I knew where this was going.
"Blasted man!" the owner said exasperated.
She continued, "Don't you ever listen to him. Don't ever shave my dog, understand?"
"Yes, I didn't think you wanted him shaved," I told her.
"That's my girl, I knew I could depend on you." she laughed.
"What should I say when he comes to pick up?" I asked her.
"Oh, he won't say anything. He knows I would kill him if he had my dog shaved." she wasn't laughing this time.

This little game went on for years between those two.

I have had this happen quite often over the years.
Most of the times I am able to catch what is going on, and will double check with the wife about what the dog is really supposed to get done.

At this time I have a cocker that comes in and gets a simple clipdown even all over, except...
When the daughter drops off, she wants the curl on the tail clipped off.
When the Mom drops off, she wants the curl left on the tail.
I told them that I have no problem with this as long as I am not in the middle of it.  :)
They think it is funny.

Today I groomed a Pomeranian that I last groomed last May and June.
They canceled the July appointment.
That was the last time they were in till today.
The first time that they brought the dog in they talked about the dog being aggressive with strangers, and they were thinking of cutting her down short.
As usual, with any double coated breed, I give the owner the talk about the possibility of damaging the coat if taken very short.

The wife changed her mind and only wanted an outline neatening.
She came in again the next month wanting the same thing.
She was very happy with the groom and with the fact that the dog was not the least bit aggressive when we groomed her.

The wife called a couple of weeks ago to make another appointment.
She explained that she had not been back sooner because her husband had been so upset after the last grooming.
Because he wanted the dog short and was upset that his wife had payed us for a bath and the dog did not come home looking the way he wanted it.
So the wife picked up a pair of scissors and gave the dog the good old 'Lion Cut'.

When she came in today, she talked again about taking the dog short and the fact that her husband thought he was wasting his money if we didn't cut the dog.
I told her that I had no problem taking her dog as short as she wanted as long as she understood that the coat may not grow back right.
"What do you mean?"
Once again I explained about double coated dogs.
"Okay, but my husband wants her short," she said.

Then she said, pointing to the dogs back, "Why does her hair look like that?"

 It is hard to see in this picture, but there are at least two large areas on this dog where the hair is not growing back at all.

I once again explained to the owner that the hair is not meant  to be cut and regrow, be cut and regrow.

Why do I have the feeling that if I had cut this dog short and the hair had not grown back right, they would have blamed me, and would have forgotten everything I warned them about.

The owner had cut the dog last July, and the only part of the coat that was growing back was the soft undercoat.

This is her after the bath and blow dry.

The owner once again decided to have me just neaten up the dog so that she could grow back evenly.

The owner did want me to hold the tail up and cut off the end of it.

The owner wanted the tail to look like a starburst when the dog held her tail up.

At some point during the grooming my husband informed me that the husband was going to be picking up the Pomeranian.

 Oh great, even the wife said her husband could be a pain, and here I was doing a bath and neaten all over on this dog again.

I have come to the conclusion that some husbands and wives like making me the scape goat .
Or they like me to be the one to explain why the dog got the cut it did.

I guess I was too busy thinking about the woman's husband, that I forgot to take the after picture.

There was no problem with the husband.
I repeated everything his wife and I had talked about, and he just stood there shaking his head and saying okay.

We'll see if they come back again.  :/

Maybe I will open a 'Couples Counseling Meeting' in the evenings.
It could help make up for some of the lost money from late cancellations and no shows.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Closed Again!

Another 14 dogs to move!
There goes Saturday at the Pet Expo.

Is it just me, or does fate know when you have a day off scheduled to do something.
So, we called everyone this morning to move them to Saturday.
It turns out that all but one customer, there always seems to always be one, were not planning on coming in today.

We live at the end of a 1/2 mile private road, and our driveway is about 2oo feet long.
This is what the private road looked like after the first wave of the storm yesterday morning.
This is why we own FWD vehicles.
This was a round 4 inches, no problem.
We got about 9 more inches last night.
I haven't walked up to see the lane yet today.

Around 4pm the second wave hit .
Right in time for rush hour.

One of my friends spent 5 hours on the Beltway trying to get home last night.
She posted on facebook that people were getting out of their cars having snowball fights to pass the time in the back up.

 This is what it looked like at around 8pm.

Note the car.
It had been cleaned off from the earlier snow in the morning.

 At one point, the storm became a whiteout.
The wind was blowing hard.
It is times like these that I hate living around trees.

I dug an area out for the dogs to go to the bathroom this morning.
My hope was that they would stay in the shoveled area and not come back in covered in snow.

Of course one or two always have to go find their own spot.

My poor bushes.
Some of them were destroyed in last years storms.

This storm may have finished some others off.

It is beautiful.
It is nice to have a couple of days off.

Until it's time to pay the rent and get your paycheck.  :(

I am spending the day sorting through my pictures.
That will take me all day.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


This is what we woke up to today.

There was only about 2 inches on the ground when I took this picture at 7 am, but it is a wet, heavy snow with car accidents all over the place.
Snow changing to sleet and rain, then back to snow with 4-6 more inches tonight.

Oh, I also woke up with another head cold.
The third one this winter!

We decided to move all of our appointments off of today.
14 dogs!
Where to move them when you are already booked up?
Fortunately we had closed off Friday for the local Pet Expo.
So we moved most of them to Friday.
It worked out because most of them were not intending to come in today even if we had opened up.  :(

So far the snow stopped for an hour then started up again.
In the picture above, through those trees and down the hill, are my horses.
There is a special quite outside when it snowing.

It is so pretty and peaceful down with the horses.
All of the mud is frozen and covered in snow.

The girls are waiting for their morning feeding.

This is 'Pumpkin' our foster horse.
She is 30 or 31 years old.
I promised her that this would be her last home.
She keeps my girl company.

This is 'Arianna'.
The spoiled stinker.
She 9 years old.

 The snow is beautiful, but I am a warm weather person.
I can't wait for spring.
These are the pictures I like taking of my girls.

Come on summer.
I know, I know, it is only January.

I love looking at the green grass in this picture.
I can feel the warm breeze.

Oh, never mind.
That is just my room heater blowing on me.
Wishful thinking.
Cough, cough.

Well, if you are grooming today, have a furry day.  :)

Happy grooming, MFF

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesdays Tip #11 Big Sexy Hair

Big Sexy Hair!?!
You want to know what in the world I am going to talk about today, right?

I am going to talk about the poodles, poodle want-to-be's, bichons, cock-a-poo's, any dog we get in that only have about 12 hairs on their heads, and their owner wants you to make it into a nice poofy head.

 Like this old guy.

He sadly passed away a few months ago.
I groomed him for around 17 years.

His owners had been told that he was part Poodle.
They wanted him cut like one with a clean face, poodle feet, and a poodle topknot.

How do you make a topknot out of flat, straight hair?

With Big Sexy Hair Spray Mousse!
Hence, Tuesday's Tip.

With just a little mousse, I can give that flat hair in the above picture a pick-me-up.

At least till he walks out the door with his owners.

After putting the mousse on his head and a blow dry, I got some poof.

At least enough to scissor a round top on his head.

Not too bad.
The mousse lifted the hair enough to pull off the poodle look.

Side Tip:  When trying to get a round top to a head that has flat hair, scissor a little tighter then you normally would.
Be careful not to go too short.
Take a little off at a time till you get the look you want.
The less weight the hair has on it, will help it to stand up.

Any Mousse will work, and I have used many different ones over the years.

Yes, it is a people Mousse.
I have not ever had a dog have a problem with it.

(I just knocked on wood.
Sorry, superstitious.)

I like the mousse I have pictured here.
It does not have a strong smell.
It is a spray mouse, so I don't have to worry about the top breaking off like some other cans of mousse.

This particular brand is expensive, $17 a bottle, but it take about 3-4 months to use the whole can.
So it breaks down to around $5.70/4.25 a month.

This is how I use the Mousse.

This is 'Abby'.
Her topknot still has a little humph to it, but the hair is thinning out.

After the bath, and before I start drying, I spray a little mousse into my hand.

The amount of hair the dog has and how straight the hair is determines how much mousse I use.

Because her hair is thin I use a little more.

Sometimes I rub it on both hands or just use one hand.

I rub it on the top of the dogs head, being very careful not to get it in the eyes.

I rub the mousse into the hair only.
I don't rub the mousse into the dogs skin.

Work it through the hair all the way to the ends of the hair.

I let the mousse set in the hair while I dry one side of the dog.
If the dog allows me to use the HV Dryer, I dry the hair from the back and side towards the middle of the head, to help the hair stand up.
Do not point the dryer straight down on the top of the head.
You don't want to create a part in the middle of the head.

A nice round topknot.
How long will it hold up?
I am not sure.
Long enough for the owner to see it is okay with me.

WARNING: Do not kill the owner when they rub the dogs head and smash down the topknot right in front of your eyes.

I have always been afraid that one of these days I will snap.

 "Live at 5."
"A dog groomer killed one of her customers today. As the groomer was being lead away by police, she was heard to be mumbling; 'they smashed it, they smashed it, I worked so long on that topknot, they smashed it...' When asked, no one knew what the customer had smashed. This is Tim Tooten reporting."

I am not sure when I first started using mousse for topknots.
I do know it has been for at least 20 years.
I don't remember how I found out about it either.

I do remember the first dog I started using it on.
She was a very pretty black miniature poodle named 'Babette'.
Her Mom was very particular about her grooming.
She did not want anyone grooming 'Babette' but me.
'Babette's' Mom also liked a very full topknot.
As 'Babette' got older, the hair on her head started losing it's curl and thinning out.
I started using the mousse on her head.
It worked great, until...

One Christmas Eve 'Babette' was in for her Christmas appointment.
I had run out of mousse and had forgotten to buy more.
It was way too busy to leave the shop and go get some.
So I groomed 'Babette' without the mousse.
I did the best that I could with the topknot.

The first day back after Christmas, 'Babette's' Mom called.

"Who groomed 'Babette'?" she asked my husband angrily.
"Lisa did as always." he answered.
"NO, she didn't," the owner insisted.
"Yes, Lisa is the only one who ever touches 'Babette'." my husband told her.
"This is NOT Lisa's work," the owner insisted.
"Why do you think that?" my husband asked.
Exasperated, the owner said; "The top of her head is FLAT!"
"Hold on, let me ask Lisa."

After talking to me, my husband went back to the owner and explained to her about the mousse that I used to help 'Babette's' topknot look nice.
He explained that we had run out and been unable to get more at the time.
He also told her that I DID groom her dog, and that I would make sure to always use the mousse on her dog from now on.

When 'Babette's' owner came in the next time, I went up and personally apologized.
"That is okay, you were busy, but don't ever let anyone else groom 'Babette' again," she said firmly.

From that day, till pretty 'Babette' passed away, as the owner dropped her dog off, she would say; "Make sure Lisa does her this time not the other person!" 


I use the mouse on Poodles, Bichons, Cock-a-poos, and any other dog that I want a poof on the top of the head.


Use the mousse on Pom Poms to help the hair stand up and out so that you can scissor a nice round ball.

I hope this helps someone.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF