About 6 weeks ago one of my 4 week, long time customers, informed us that they would no longer be bring their dogs.
This customer has been with me for about 22 years.
I have groomed 5 of their dogs that have passed, and the current 3 that they have now.
I have used their pictures on my blog a number of times.
I also blogged about their photo shoot.
About 5 or 6 years ago this customer moved to Pennsylvania.
They are now about 30 minutes away from me.
I was very happy when they decided to continue coming to me with the two Golden's that they had at the time.
After the Goldens passed away, they got another Schnauzer and decided to find a groomer close to them.
That was okay.
I really did understand.
I had really appreciated them coming to me for so long from such a long way.
A few months later they called me to say they wanted to come back because they could not find a groomer they liked.
Okay, that was fine with me.
Their Schnauzer was very sickly, and they ended up giving her to their niece who had fallen in love with her and had the time and patience to deal with her medical issues. (the owners are two elderly sisters)
Before I knew it, they were calling me again to let me know that they had gotten two more schnauzers.
Shortly after that they also got the Golden.
They are great owners that take great care of their dogs, but they bit off a little more then they could chew.
They were used to their older dogs and had forgotten what it was like to have young dogs again.
After one of the dogs groomings, the owners informed me that the dogs would miss one of their 4 week appointments because they were sending them away to a trainer.
Away to a trainer??
"Isn't this trainer going to work with you too?" I asked.
"No, he said he works better with them living with him," they told me.
I don't agree, but they are not my dogs.
My daughter and I had been working with the Schnauzers, with the grooming, because they were nervous dogs and were very skidish about a lot of things.
They were coming along really good, they just needed some training.
So did their owners.
I don't like to talk against someone, but when those dogs came back from the trainer they were petrified.
Everything we had taught them was gone.
Not only gone, but they were worse then they had been before my daughter and I had started grooming them.
The trainer had brought them back and showed off all the commands that he had taught them, but he left without teaching the sisters anything.
It took my daughter and I a few grooming's to get the dogs settled down again.
I don't know how this man trained these dogs, but something was not right.
About 4 months after the dogs came back from the trainer, the sister informed me that the dogs were going back to the trainer because they were not listening to any of the commands.
This time I could not keep my mouth shut.
As tactfully as I could, I told them why I did not think this was a good idea.
I told them to talk to the trainer about coming to them and training the dogs with them so that they could also learn how to control the dogs.
He didn't train that way...
The dogs went with him again.
Again, my daughter and I had to calm the dogs down and show them that everything was okay.
That was about 4 years ago.
The Golden is very laid back and sweet.
He is no problem at all to groom.
The schnauzers are very sweet also, but they still have issues.
You have to work slowly with them.
You have to talk them through the drying.
You can not move suddenly.
Back to 6 weeks ago.
A lot of the dogs that I groom are like my stepdogs.
I really care for them and about them.
I have had long time customers leave before, mainly due to moving away.
Some have unexpectedly disappeared.
It always makes me a little sad.
I always hope that they find a nice groomer who will be nice and understand them.
When this long time customer told me that it was getting to be too long of a ride to bring the dogs, I understood.
I was amazed that it hit me so hard, and upset me so much.
My daughter and I had worked so long and hard getting these dogs to enjoy the grooming and not get upset.
I also really liked the owners, they are wonderful customers.
I tried to write about this back when it happened, but I was too upset at the time.
I kept telling myself that I was being silly.
The sisters had told me that they had found a nice grooming place close to their house, and had already taken the Golden there once because the vet had given them a medicated shampoo that needed to be used once a week, and we were too far to come once a week.
I really did, but that did not mean I wouldn't miss those guys.
I was also really worried that another groomer wouldn't understand how to handle the girls because they would not know their history.
I actually thought about writing the new groomer a note, then decided against it.
I thought the new groomer would get offended by my trying to tell her how to groom these two schnauzers.
We kept their appointments on the books.
My daughter kept telling me; "don't worry Mom, they will be back."
I wasn't so sure.
It was a long ride, for them, with three dogs.
As their next appointment approached and we hadn't heard anything from them,we filled it.
The day they were do in, we got a call late in the day.
My husband walked into the grooming room and said, "Mrs. W is on the phone and wants to know if we will take them back."
"I told you!" my daughter said.
"Yes, of course," I said.
When my husband got off the phone, I asked what happened.
"She said they didn't like the way the groomers treated the Golden," he said.
"The Golden, how could you treat a Golden bad? I asked. "He is a sweetheart."
"What about the Schnauzers? I continued.
"They didn't take them," he said, "they will wait for their next appointment to bring them here."
"Well, what happened?" I wanted to know.
"She didn't tell me." he said.
"Didn't you ask?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
"No. I figured she would tell you when she came in next," he said.
Don't they know we don't like to wait.
We need to know now.
One of the sisters brought the Golden in today for his medicated bath.
I didn't waste any time in asking what happened.
How could grooming this sweet, gentle Golden go so wrong?
She told me the first time they groomed the Golden everything seemed fine.
When she went back the next time, the Golden would not walk in the shop. (he always walked into our shop with no problem)
I told her that that did not always mean anything, because I also had dogs that had to be dragged in.
I did know that that was not right for her Golden.
She said that when she picked the Golden up after the second weekly medicated bath, that the dogs nose was raw and bleeding.
When she asked about it they admitted that they did not have a cage large enough for the Golden, and that they had squeezed him into a smaller cage, and that he must have rubbed his nose on the door.
We have three large dog kennels where the dog can stand, lay down, and turn around comfortably.
We take no more then three large dogs a day.
If you can not accommodate a large dog, why book it?
She said that the last time she took the Golden....
Yes, she took it back one more time.
She said that the Golden was pulling away from the groomers, trying to get back to her when she dropped him off.
Once again, I told her that this happens with some dogs.
"But he never did that with you." she said.
"Your right," I said.
"When I went to pick him up, he was barking like crazy," she continued.
"Who him!?" I exclaimed, pointing down at the Golden who was sitting on my foot enjoying the head massage I was giving him while we were talking.
"I don't think I have ever heard him bark in here before." I said.
"He was barking so bad that I went ahead through the door to get him," she said.
"When I turned the corner, he was tied to a pole so tight that he could not sit down because his head could not move," she explained.
I just stood there with my mouth open.
I did not know what to say.
I don't like talking about other groomers.
I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.
But, this sounded awful.
I just don't understand.
We work so hard to get the owners to understand that the grooming can be a really nice experience.
We work really hard to make it a nice experience.
How can one place make a sweet, gentle, easy to groom dog petrified.
Well, they are back now.
The Golden did great today.
He fell asleep in his kennel while waiting for his Mom to pick him up.
He did not bark, even when his mom got there.
I can't wait to see the girls again.
They missed a grooming, and will be a little more work, but that is okay.
I love the dogs I groom.
Well...most of them. :-)
Happy Grooming, MFF