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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

So Frustrated

No Shows, last minute Cancellations and Reschedules..

What could be more frustrating?

I can think of one thing...customers, who also do business by appointment, no showing and rescheduling at the last minute.
That really bothers me.
They should know better.  :/

Yesterday I had one customer call to cancel her four dogs, because she was sick, and her daughter was out of town, and she didn't have anyone to bring them.
This was a very long time, every five week customer who rarely ever cancels on me.
But four dogs!
Bye, bye 169 beans.  :(

Then a first time groom customer (has used the Self-Serve a few times) No Showed.
No answer when called.
No call back after we left a message.
Bye, bye 65-70 beans.

Total lost for one day?  @ 239 beans.

Now for today.

8am appointment for a Standard Poodle, regular, long time customer.
8:20 called to see where they were.
Husband out of town, wife could not get dog in the car.
The dog is a very nice, 3 year old Standard, capable of jumping into the car all by herself.
68 beans lost.

Okay, you can close your mouth now.
I know I don't charge enough for Standard Poodles.
It's a long time customer with their second St. Poodle, and I am slowly moving up their price. 
My daughter reminds me every time they come in that I am not charging enough.  :/

Anyway, about 20 minutes later, another call from a regular customer.
They couldn't keep their appointment for, 9am, for their Shih-Tzu, owner very sick.
Another 45 beans lost.

An hour later, the noon appointment calls to ask to come in another day.
My husband rescheduled her.
He was too disgusted at this point to even ask why she could not come in.
Bye, bye 45 beans.

Last but not least.
A long time customer No Shows with her Cocker.
Not the first time.
She will be calling to say sorry, and how soon can you get him in?
50 beans gone.

Total lost today...
208 beans

Total lost for 2 days.
It's a record for me.

Nine dogs and 447 beans lost.  :((((((

My daughter wants me to start charging people for missed appointments.
I just can't seem to do it.
Even though it upsets me when customers don't show or cancel, I just can't bring myself to ask for money when a service was not given.

My daughter says that if I don't want to charge the full groom price then set a no show and cancellation fee.
Oh, how I hate that word...FEE.
Now a days, everyone charges fees.
I hate fees.
But, I also hate people who No Show and Cancel on me at the last minute.

About 3 years ago we noticed more and more people forgetting their appointments.
So, two years ago, after 25 years of grooming, we started calling customers the day before to remind them of their appointments for the first time.
We hoped that this would decrease the number of missed appointments.

Did it work?

Maybe a little, but we lost over 8000 beans last year to missed appointments.

I don't want to charge fees.
I just want my customers to respect my time and show up for their appointments.
Don't they understand that grooming isn't a hobby for me, it is my livelihood.
I have bills to pay too.

Short of going to their homes and picking up the dogs myself, I don't know what more I can do.

Still frustrated.

Sorry for the vent.

Happy Grooming, MFF  (I really am happy when I am grooming)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Stupid Mistake

I made a stupid mistake today.

I could blame it on the fact that I spent the first 45 minutes at work this morning on the phone with my Mom.
I called her to check on her and her husband.
They live in Tennessee.
They spent most of the night in one of their closets while Tornado warnings went off all through the night.
We also had tornado warnings here until noon.

Once I got off of the phone with her, I was already running late.
I had a Cock-a-Poo waiting, and a Standard Poodle, and Bichon due in in 15 minutes.
I got the Cock-a-Poo groomed and finished, then got the Standard Poodle out to shave his feet and face.
We have been grooming him and his sister for a while now.
My daughter grooms the female and I groom the male.
He is around 11-12 years old now, and is very unsteady on the table.
He has also become a very nervous, jittery dog.
I am usually able to keep him calm with a lot of petting and talking.

After clipping his feet and face, I got him into the tub.
I bathed him while my son was blow drying my Bichon.
We both finished what we were doing at the same time, so I took the Bichon to scissor him, and my son took the Standard to blow dry him.

Now this is where I made my mistake.

I fluffed up the Bichon and had just started scissoring when the screaming started.
I immediately knew what I had done...or hadn't done.

The Standard was having what I call a HV seizure.
I call it that because, in all of the years I have been grooming, I have only ever seen dogs do this when being dried with the HV.
And, 9 times out of 10 it is an old dog, or a white dog that has these so called seizures.

What is a HV seizure?
Well, I am sure that if you have experienced it you know what I am talking about.
If you haven't, I will try to explain it so that when and if it happens to you, you will be prepared and know what to do.  

I am not 100% sure what causes it, but I am pretty sure it is the loud noise the HV dryer makes.

You will be drying a dog.
Everything is going fine, the dog is standing there quietly letting you dry it.
Sometimes you will have him almost completely dry, sometimes you will only be drying him for a few minutes, then suddenly, the dog starts to scream, jerk, twist, fight, pee, and sometimes poop.
And your standing there thinking what the he**!

You quickly turn off the dryer, he won't stop, you can't calm him down, you can barely hold on to him.

What do you do?

I do the same thing that I do with dogs that have Epileptic Seizures.
First I grab them, and walk out of the grooming room to my lobby.
Most of the time this enough to calm them down.
In the lobby they think they are going home, and amazingly it calms them very quickly.
If they are still whining and fidgety, I will step outside.
The fresh air has worked every time.
They have always come back to reality very quickly.
I continue to walk them around for a little while till I am sure that they are back to themselves.

It is not really a seizure, but it sure feels like it when it happens.
When dogs do this, their file is marked, and we don't HV them again.

As a rule now, all old dogs and any other nervous dogs have their ears stuffed with cotton before turning the HV on.
It does help.

Today I forgot.
I forgot to stuff the Standards ears.
It never crossed my mind.
Until I heard the screaming.

My second mistake, I had not told my son what to watch out for when drying the older dogs.
He had seen this happen before, but this was the first time it happened to him.
My daughter heard the dog starting, and just had time to yell to her brother to turn the dryer off before the dog totally went off.
Screaming, fighting, jerking, twisting, and peeing all over my son while he held on to the dog.

The dog had always been great with the dryer.
For the last couple of years I have been stuffing his ears with cotton.
Today I forgot.  :(

I grabbed him up in my arms.
Not easy with a fighting Standard.
My daughter was grooming his sister.
I took him straight to her...that didn't help.
I took him out to the lobby.
He calmed down almost immediately, but boy, was his heart racing...so was mine for that matter.

He had rejected the HV dryer after only 5 minutes of drying.
He was soaked.
We put him in his kennel, on a big towel to rest while I finished the Bichon.
I tried putting a kennel dryer on him for 10 minutes, but he immediately started to whine, so I turned it off.

Good grief, I was going to have to hand dry a Standard Poodle.
My poor wrists.
The only problem was, I wasn't sure he would even let me use the hand dryer on him.

Cotton balls...
This all could have possibly been avoided if I had remembered the cotton balls.

How long was it going to take me to dry him by hand.

 The first thing I did after getting him on my table was to stuff those ears.

But that wasn't all.

 I was also going to use The Happy Hoodie.

If you haven't heard of these, click on the link above and read about them.

They are worth a try.

They do what they claim to do.

I highly recommend them.

(I have nothing to do with the company, and they don't know me from a hole in the head.)

I was going to make sure that the dryer sound was not going to bother this dog again.

He still had a little of that crazy look in his eyes.

The legs dried in no time, but the body was so thick and tightly curled that I took the chance with the HV again.

I know, I know, stop yelling at me.

I was very careful.
I only turned the dryer 1/2 way up.
I ran it over his back as quickly as I could, just enough to separate the curl so that I could finish it with the hand dryer.

Believe me, I was watching for any signs that he might flip again.

It took me 30 minutes to hand dry him.

He did great.

I took the Hoodie off to dry his head and ears, but left the cotton in.

I got him done and had his owner pick him up right away.

By the time I finished, he was very calm.

I was relieved.  :-)

Yes, the owners were told about him rejecting the dryer.

What are some of the signs to look for?

~ It can happen with any dogs, but mainly happens with white dogs and old dogs.
~ Some start a slow whine that gradually gets louder till they start screaming.
~ Some tense up suddenly, and then start to fidget.
~ Some get 'the look' in their eyes.
~ Some do all of the above.

These are only small signs.
My daughter and I are very in-tuned to them.
If we notice a dog start anyone of these signs, we turn off the dryer, make sure the ears are stuffed, and slowly try again at a lower speed.
If the dog starts again, they are hand dried.

Most of the time, when we watch for these signs, it doesn't turn into a full blown scream seizure.
With old dogs, we don't even take a second chance, they get hand dried only.

I won't make this stupid mistake again!
It takes ten year off my life.
I can't spare 10 years.  :/

Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

10 Reasons a Groomer is...

...Not Just a Groomer.

1~ They are Clairvoyant:  they know that "cut him as short as possible" really means a 3" hand scissored Puppy Cut.

2~ They must be a Sumo Wrestler: for those large dogs that bolt out of the kennel going one direction, while your trying to wrestle them into going the other direction.


3~ They are a Weightlifter: I   think the photo says it all.

4~ They are a  Comedians: to be able to laugh off some of the crazy, tactless comments that pet owners say to them, because if they don't laugh, they are either going to cry, or kill their (human) customers. :-)

5~ They are an Artist: to figure out the breed styles and angles, and to scissor those darn Pom-Poms!

6~ They are an Animal Behaviorist : for those dogs who are sweet one minute and want to eat you alive, for no reason, the next minute.

 7~ They are a Vet Assistant : they know the basic first aid to help a pet, and recommend it to a Vet for care.

8~ They are Teachers : they take the time to educate their customers on how to take care of their dogs between grooming's.

9~ They are Magicians : they are able to turn this...

 ...into this.

Last but not least.

10~ They must have the Patience of a Saint :
to deal with insensitive customers.
to deal with undisciplined dogs.
to deal with matted dogs.
to deal with biting dogs.
to deal with everything!

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday's Tip # 21 Cleaning the Face

I don't know about other groomers, but if a dogs face is not clean and fresh smelling, the dog is dirty to me.

It drives me absolutely crazy when I spend a while scrubbing a face, two or three times, and it still smells when I am drying it.

Getting these dirty faces clean.

Dry eye crust.

Chunks of food around the mouth.

Those stinky long breads, with mats, food, rawhide, you name it, it's in that beard.

Those little old dog faces that are full of food and medicine.

If you have been following my blog, you know that I am a hand washer, and that I don't have a problem with the type of shampoo systems other groomers like to use, as long as the dog comes out clean.

But, I do have to say that I don't think that you can really get a face clean without hand washing it.
Getting those fingers in there, and scrubbing every inch of that face.

I like to pump full concentrated shampoo from the gallon to use on the faces.

I  rub it around on my fingers.

 Then I start scrubbing the face.

I scrub, rinse, then scrub again.

Now here are a couple of tips that I use to get the face as clean as possible.

First, I suggest scrubbing the face at least twice.
Between soap ups, pour some diluted backing soda mixture on the face, rinse and then soap up again.
The baking soda takes away the soap residue from the first shampooing and also helps get rid of that yucky face odor.

I do not pour Baking soda mixture over the head.
I do not want to take a chance of getting it in the eyes.
I carefully pour over each side of the mouth and bread, rinse it and then soap up the face again.

The second tip;

If a face has a lot of matting, food or rawhide in it, I let it soak, do my usual soap up, and then I finish by putting full concentrated creme rinse on the mustache and beard.

With the creme rinse still in the hair, I use a fine tooth comb to comb out all of the softened food and rawhide, or loosen up the matting a little.

Sometimes I am able to comb out all of the matting.

Be very careful and gentle when combing wet skin. You could scrap and irritate the wet, tender skin.

All of the eye crust and food is gone.

The mats and rawhide are gone, and the beard smells nice.

The face is bright, white and fluffy again.

Hope this helps.  :-)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Just a Quick Post...

..to say that we survided the week.


Spring is finially here, if only it would stop raining.  :)

As if we couldn't tell by all of the matted dogs coming in.

I want to wish everyone who celebrates it...HAPPY EASTER!

One more quick note.

Meet Hunter.

He is a 10 week old Red Standard Poodle, and he is my new guy.

Note to family...

...I don't want to hear it!

Yes, I have another dog.

Get over it.

To all of the groomers out there, I know you understand the love of a dog.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, April 22, 2011

One of those days..

When I was pregnant with my first child I used to dream about days like today. 
The dream would start out like any other grooming day, then as the dream went on I noticed that every time I finished a dog, and it went home, a new dog would pop into the kennel to replace the last dog.
I would groom that dog and another would appear, and another, and another.
I would not wake up until somewhere in my goofy brain I realized that I was dreaming, and all I had to do was wake up.
When I did wake up, the relief I felt was amazing.

Well, today I kept trying to wake up, only, I wasn't dreaming.
It was just one of those days.
A book solid day.
Walk-ins left and right for nails and brush outs.
Nails on Self-Serve dogs.

It was like a Saturday, only today was Friday, and it seemed everyone was off work today except us.
I don't even want to think about what tomorrow is going to be like.
Another booked solid day with a bunch of large dogs, and it's the day before Easter.
I don't even want to think about what the Self-Serve is going to be like, and how many times I am going to have to stop grooming to go clip nails.
It's going to be another 'will this day ever end.'

I know it's going to be a bad day when I only have 3 dogs done by noon.

Then I had this little lady come in.

She came in with her friend.
Another little SpanX that is tan and white.

If it hadn't been so crazy today I would have gotten a picture of her friend.
I meant to, I forgot.

Anyway, this little ones friend has a smoother coat, more like a field spaniel.
A naturally smooth back with a little feathering.

This little girl has more then her fair share of hair, and peach fuzz all over.

(This is where a picture of the other dog would have come in handy.)

The owner wanted me to make this little lady look like his other dog, but he did not want her to look clipped.

He wanted her to look natural.

So I pulled out my Furminator.

I used the Furminator to remove all of that fuzzy peach fuzz.

The furminator does great getting out all of that peach fuzz and leaving the smooth, courser hair behind.

A natural look.

I also used it to take a lot of the fuzz off of the legs.

Most of this came off of the dogs back and sides.

This is what her back and sides looked like after using the Furminator.

Once I finished using the furminator, I grabbed my thinning shears.

I used my thinning shears all over to get rid of a lot of the long stringy hair.

They wanted the ears left long, so I also used the thinning shears to smooth out the ears.

I used the thinning shears to thin out the fuzzy hair and blend the head and ears.

This is what the back legs ended up looking like.

And the front leg.

I think it looks natural without looking clipped.

She looks as tired as I felt.

All she had to do was stand there.  :)

I still had 4 more dogs to finish after her, and it was already 1:30.

Are you sure today wasn't a Saturday?

I will not dream about dogs tonight..
I will not dream about dogs tonight..
I will not dream about do.....oh sorry.

I think I am scared to go to sleep tonight.  :/

Happy Grooming, MFF