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)


  1. I'm so sorry this happened. :( When I read this, I just felt so bad. I think some people just dont understand dogs very well (me included) and don't know how to properly take care of or comfort a dog no matter what. That they would pin it on you is just a cop out and a horrible nasty thing. I wish that our terrier had such a lovely groomer like you, we take him to Petco and we never know who is taking care of him on that day. But I would never call up a groomer like that, as if a dog acting up a day later could have anything to do with your groom.

    I just wanna say that I have learned so much from your blog, I am a fellow animallover and also wanted to be a vet when I was a kid, but allergies kept me out of it. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures and tips, it is truly entertaining and educational even for a non-groomer like me! All the best from Columbus, Ohio

    1. Thanks Cat,
      This is the part of grooming that scares me the most. It seems, in this day and age, everyone blames first and then figures out the truth later. That is way I am such a nut case about being VERY careful with dogs in my care. :)
      I am glad that you enjoy my blog!
      Lisa, MFF

  2. I enjoy reading your blog. I am trying to teach myself to groom my Westies and you are educated me a lot. I have had other dogs in the past and when I have boarded them I had been accused of doing something to my dog because she was acting so afraid and nervous at the kennel-really? It couldn't be that she was nervous at the kennel? I think you probably much prefer animals than humans because humans are so complicated and uninformed. I'm sorry that happened to you. I love what you are trying to do though about educating your customers. I know personally that I will never look at a dog groomer the same way. The mistakes that I have made in terms of understanding what groomers have to go through has made me have a lot more appreciation for them (and you).

  3. Hi Lori,
    Thank you, I am very glad that my blog has helped you. I am sorry that that boarding kennel said something like that to you. I am sure that your dog was most likely suffering from separation anxiety. They are a boarding kennel, they should know about things like that and other reasons a dog may be afraid. I don't understand why they blamed you.
    Thanks for reading my blog. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  4. I too worked at a vet when I was in my late teens. I left after a month for the same reason. If I had known dog grooming schools existed, I could see myself having gone into it. But no, I'm a writer and editor and at least I can work from home with my furry clan around me.

    I've also spent the last 3 days reading through your entire blog, not so much the technical stuff (cause that's not interesting *to me* as I'm not a groomer, but love reading about the different personalities of the animals and the owner stories.

    I LOVE how you love and care for each animal. You remind me of our own groomer, and I would be so stressed if I had to find a new one!!!!!!

  5. Dear Lisa,I just came upon your blog,and it is awesome, so comforting to know that I am not alone. It is like looking into a mirror.I am a dog groomers and salon owner myself.I do all the doggies myself,so it takes a lot of time and I can only do a certain amount of dog per day.I have the same passion of giving the dog a good experience every time.I treat every dog as if they were my own.Your blog has helped with a lot of questions that I've always wondered about.Keep on blogging,you are doing a great job.Can't wait to read more.
    Regards Donia Form South-Africa