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, March 31, 2011

Just Playing

I have been working on a Creative Entry for Groom Expo in Hershey, in September.


My daughter says that my Standard, 'Hanna', looks like she has mange.

She's right.

Yes, Jess, I agreed with you.  :-)
Without color she looks like a dog with a really bad chop job.

I don't usually cut her hair this far ahead of the competition, but last year I waited too long and messed up the cut.
It was too late to let her grow back out and start all over.

Well, I have set most of the pattern, but I am still playing around with some ideas.
I know that I want to do some flowers, but I am playing around with different looks.

The problem is, getting the hair to look like my drawings.  :-/

A blob of hair.

Where to start.

I decided to tie up the hair I want to use.

Then I scissored away the hair I didn't want.

What to do next...


I used my blow pens to give me an idea of what the leaves would look like.

They do look like leaves..right?


A little bit?

There would be much more detail for the competition.

Let's see, what's next?

Let's see..how to make this hair look like a flower.

I can see it in my minds eye.

Why can't I get it to look the way my mind sees it?

 That's a little better.

It's getting there.

I think.

I hope.

Well, its a start.

It's too big for what I plan to do.

I'll have to work on it some more.

I want there to be a lot more detail.

I want it to pop.

I want it to look pretty without being gaudy.

And, I can't spend too much time on it.

You only get 2 hours and 45 minutes for the hands on grooming.

It goes by so fast.

Every year my son and daughter remind me that I said I was not going to compete in Creative again.
They are rolling their eyes at me.

There is so much to do.

My background.

The presentation.

Did I say that I really hate that part of the competition?

 I really hate that part!

You don't have to do a presentation.
But just about everyone does.

Some people put on little skits.
Not me.

Some people tell stories.
Maybe, I'll think about it.

Some people read poems.
Been there, done that, and humiliated myself.

Some people sing.
OMG, not in this lifetime!!

I know what I want for my background.
I just have to figure out how to do it.

I know what I want for my props.
I just have to make them, and paint them, or maybe just buy them.

I know what I (don't) want to do for my presentation.
But I am having writers block!

Can you believe that?
Every time I go to work on the presentation, I go blank.

Not panicking..... yet.

Maybe just a little.  :-)

There is still plenty of time to change my mind about competing. :-p

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday's Tip #18 Saving Matted Ears

How many times do you hear; 'Leave the ears long.'
                                          'I don't want you to cut the ears.'
                                          'I like the ears left long.'
                                         'The ears aren't matted.'

The ears don't look bad... at first, then you run your fingers down the ear.

Goo...uh oh.

You get down to the end of the ear leather, and you feel it.

A big mat wrapped around the very end of the ear leather.

It's big.

It's tight.

It's matted on the front and back of the ear leather.

And, it would be too dangerous to split it and demat it.

Actually , I like these kind of mats.


I am goofy that way?

That's beside the point.  :-)

It's simple, I can very easily save these types of matted ears.

First, I pull all of the good, unmatted hair up or to the side, out of the way.

Then I find the beginning of the mat.

  I lightly and carefully start to clip off only the mat.

Remember to keep the good hair out of the way, even the hair on the underside of the ear leather.

Clip until you reach the end of the ear leather.


 Also remember to very carefully clip to the edge of the ear leather.

Use your fingers to feel through the mat so that you always know where the edge of the ear leather is.


Leave any and all hair that is not matted or could easily be combed out.

This is what the ear leather will look like once both the front and back have been clipped.


Let go of the hair you saved.
It will fall over the top of the ears leather where you clipped the mat off.

The shaved part of the ear will disappear under the longer hair.

Always let the owner know that the ear was matted and how you were able to save the ear.

I would even show them the mats that you cut out, and where you shaved the ear so they won't forget and panic if they see the shaved part of the ear later at home.

 The ear will look and feel thinned out, but at least you will be able to keep it long for the owner.

You know how those owners love long ears.  :-/

I hope this tip helps.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Home Grooming

Early last week I had a long time customer walk-in with a dog I did not recognize.
She was very upset...not with me. :-)
The dog was a 9 month old Shih-Tzu that belonged to her granddaughter.

This is my customers Shih-Tzu.

They groom groom him regularly.

He never has a mat in him.

Their Granddaughters Shih-Tzu was a matted mess.

He was a 9 month old matted mess that had not had his first grooming yet.
Picture a Shih-Tzu the size of two Shih-Tzu's, (because of the long matted hair) with four ears.

If you are a groomer, you know the four eared look, two long, hanging, matted ears, and the two big balls of mat over top each hanging ear.
This guys hair was so thick and matted that you could not find his skin.
Oh, and he was clean, the Granddaughter had been bathing him!

I am not sure of all of the details about the Granddaughter, but my customer took the dog away from her.
My customer was so mad that the dog was in this condition.

I had to ask my customer to wait a couple of days before I could groom the dog.
Why is it that no body cancels or No-Shows when you have a dog waiting that really needs a grooming.

My customer was very understanding, and made the appointment for a couple days later.
Because I was booked, and because of the customers schedule, the dog had to wait.
I felt terrible.
The puppy was badly matted, but not so badly as to be causing the puppy pain.

I would have taken a picture of how matted the puppy was when he came in for his grooming, but this is what walked in.

 Doesn't he look wonderful?
My customer decided to work on him herself while waiting for the appointment.

I think she did a great job.
This dogs hair was at least 6 to 7 inches long.

She managed to scissor all of the mats off without cutting the dog.
Even those extra ears, and they were big mats.

I know that I have to do a repair job on this dog, but I think it is great that this customer hacked up this puppies hair.

I would rather see more dogs come in this way.

At least it would show that the owners understood how bad it is to let your dog get so matted.

I was able to smooth his coat out with a #4F blade.

Boy, does he have a thick coat.
And, I spent half of the groom teaching him that he was not going to die.  :-)

You could most definitely tell he was not used to being groomed.
I told my customer that I was amazed she was able do what she did.

 She laughed, and said that she had her Grandson hold the puppy and let the puppy chew on a bone while she scissored him.

The puppy was a quick learner.

He was standing still on the table half way through the grooming.

The puppy will not be going back to the granddaughter.

Of course that is another thing.
Why do people get their kids dogs and expect the kid to take care of the dog?

 I guess I really should not say that.
I was a kid with dogs.
I brought every dog that I found home with me. :-/
I have also taught my kids how to be responsible for their dogs.

It's just nice to see an owner do the right thing. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Apology & Customer Service

Wow, I just went back and read my post from Friday, and I have to apologize to anyone who reads my blog.
I can only say that emotions were running very high that night.
I very rarely have confrontations with anyone...ever.
I don't like them, I don't want the drama in my life.
I like a nice, quiet, easy going life.
I don't ride roller coasters, not at the Amusement Parks and not in life if I can help it.

In all of the years that I have been grooming and owned my own shop, I have had only a handful of confrontations with customers.
I do everything that I can to avoid one.
But some people are just nuts.
I have also come to believe that some people love to start trouble.
I have almost always been able to defuse a situation with a smile and a ton of sincere sweet talk.
My husband and kids just shake their heads in disbelief when I go out to talk to a grumpy customer, smooth things over, and have them smiling within a few minutes.
My husband says that sugar drips from my mouth.

Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that you get a lot further with a smile then a confrontation.
Yet, sometimes a confrontation cannot be avoided.

Friday was one of those times.

All I can say is, if you have a customer come in and some sixth scents in you sends off alarms...listen!
I knew this lady was going to be a problem months ago.
But, I am very good at biting my tongue.
I do let my customers get away with a lot before I have had enough.
I know there are other groomers, and business people out there who would say, 'don't let them get away with anything from the start.'

I really don't mind working with grumpy customers, because I have managed to turn most of them into really great, nice customers.
You never know, sometimes people have had really bad experiences someplace else, and they come in expecting the same from you.
I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and most of the time they turn out to be good people.

Not always.

The customer on Friday was not a bad person, just a pain in the a** type of customer who constantly expected you to move appointments around at the last minute, or cancel at the last minute with more then one dog, and best of all, tells you how to do your job.

The last straw was when she called back on Thursday (after she got her reminder call for Friday's appointment) and asking to cancel another appointment she had for this coming Tuesday, and moving that dog to the Thursday appointment she had for the other dog.

Is your head spinning yet?

Mine is.

My husband explained that she could not switch the dogs because the dog she had scheduled for Tuesday was a biting, mean, old Cocker, and he needs extra time.
I have groomed him twice.
He had to be muzzled for both groomings, for the entire grooming.
He is the type of biter that goes for blood and does not stop till he gets some.
Well, Friday I already had a large, partially paralyzed Cocker coming in for a grooming.
I will only groom One special needs or special case dog in a day, and I groom a lot of them.
She seemed to understand this, until she came in to pick up her other dog on Friday.
(Which turned out to be an elderly Springer that was overgrown, matted and could not stand for more then 5 minutes at a time.)
As she was paying my daughter, she said that she needed an appointment now for the Cocker, because he really needed to be groomed.

Remember now, she had an appointment for that dog that she canceled this coming Tuesday.

My daughter told her that the first opening we had for a special case dog was in May.
This owner immediately got upset and accused us of not wanting to groom her dog.
"I think you just don't want to groom my dog," she said.
"I don't know why you need to make special time for him," she conitnued.
"Just put a muzzle on him and he is fine to groom," she raddled on.
"My last groomer had him done in 45 minutes," she finished.
"I find it hard to believe that they could finish a Cocker in 45 minutes, but if they could you could use them again and not wait for us," my daughter informed her.
"I can't, they went out of business, and don't be flippant with me!" she told my daughter angrily.

Next, my daughter did the right thing.
She turned around and came to get me.

Now you have to understand why this bothered my daughter so much.
She has had to deal with a lot of customers talking down to her because she is so young.
They start out talking to her, then avoid her if me or my husband come into the lobby.
Some don't want to talk to her about grooming because they think she is too young to know anything.
Some don't like to be told how to brush their dog or other things, just because they don't like someone younger telling them how to do things.

I remember the same thing bothering me when I first started to groom.
Customers just would not listen to me.

Case in point.

My daughter has been grooming this dog for awhile now.
About 6 months ago she showed me a lump that she felt in this dogs neck.
At the time you could only feel the lump if you held the dogs head up and back a little.
The lump was about the size of a dime.

The owners were told about the lump several times.
They were also told every time my daughter thought it was getting larger.

My daughter grooms this dog every 6 weeks.

Six weeks ago you could still not see the lump, you could only feel it.

This is what it looked like Friday.
The Vet will not remove it.
The owners said that if they knew sooner, the Vet may have been able to do something.

Needless to say my daughter was once again very upset that the owners were not listening to her.

So, when the other owner accused her of not giving an appointment and called her flippant, she had had it.
So had I.

I did not raise my voice.
I was not mean.
But I was firm when I told this owner that my daughter was not lying to her about how long she would have to wait for an appointment.
I was firm when I told her that I would not do a rush job on an old, biting Cocker, and I didn't care how fast the other groomer had groomed the dog, I would groom the dog the way that was comfortable for me and her dog.
And, I was firm when I told her that I did not appreciate her coming into my shop and upsetting my daughter because she could not get an appointment when she wanted an appointment.

I wasn't the one who canceled the one she had.

I was told that my customer service left something to be desired.
I was also told that I was in denial about my daughters manners.
That is when the conversation was brought to an end.
"You don't want to go there!" I said. "It is time to take your dog home."

There is a lot of the conversation that I left out.
She went on and on about customer service and how I schedule my dogs and how I should groom.
Neither of us ever raised our voices.
It did not get ugly.
She just would not stop.

To make all of this even worse, another customer walked in and listened to the last 10 minutes of the conversation.
I could not stop apologizing to that customer about what he had to listen to.

His answer to me..."Don't worry about it, she was a nut."

That didn't make me feel any better.
I was shaking.
I run a very professional shop.
I spent a long time working on a good reputation.
I don't like anyone leaving my shop thinking they got bad service.
No matter how much of a PITA they were.

Okay, I have been rambling long enough.




Is anyone still there?

If you are, thanks for hanging around and reading my crazy, rambling story.

By the way, Saturday was a good grooming day.
Everything went smoothly.

I promise, my next post will be better.
I am working hard to not let people bother me, and not hold on to stuff.
All I can do is be the best groomer I can be, and give the best customer service that I know how.

Listen to those alarms in your head.
No customer is worth the drama.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bad Day!

All I can say is that I want to groom anonymously from now on.
I would rather deal with a day full of biting dogs, and never talk to another insane owner again.
Do they have to come in with their dogs?
Isn't there some magical way to transport the dog to me without ever talking to an owner?

This owner had my daughter in tears and my son ready to pick her up and throw her out.
I can't even type about it right now.
It all started over having to wait till May for an appointment.
It was an unbelievably stupid confrontation.

The customer IS NOT always right.
No on will ever change my mine on that!
My shop gives excellent customer service, and I will not be told how to run my business.

I am getting too old for this.
I will take dogs over people anytime.
I think I'll close up and go groom for shelters, on dogs that have no poeple attached to them.
Oh, I can't do that!...I would end up taking them all home.  :)

Sorry for the rant.  :-/

Tomorrow will be better.

Happy Grooming, MFF  (I hope)