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, April 11, 2011

A Groomer's Nightmare

Yesterday my post was a little long winded.
I guess it just proved how strongly I feel about treating the dogs in our care like they have feelings, and not like they are just a job.
Also the importance of working with a dog to get it to except and maybe even like the grooming.

I had a puppy come in about a month ago.
He was 6 months old.
It was his first grooming.
In my opinion, he should of had his first grooming no later then 3 months old.

Now, I don't know about other groomers out there, but if I am going to have a puppy fight me about scissoring their face, it is going to be a Shih-tzu every time.
I don't know if it is because their nose is so short, or if it is because their eyes are so close to their nose, or because when they were born their mother told them they have to fight the groomer for their face.

Most of the time puppies learn pretty fast when I groom them for the first time.
I do a lot of hugging and cuddling.
I tell them everything that I am going to do before I do it.
I work slow.
I praise.
I let them smell the dryer, the comb, the brush, the clippers, and the scissors before I use them.
I give them a brake if they need it, or I need it, but most of the time neither of us needs that break because I take my time.

When a new puppy owner asks me how long it will take to groom their dog, my answer is...

"I am not really sure. I work at your dogs pace. If he is scared, I work slowly to make him feel better. If I have to, I will stop grooming him and let him rest while I finish someone else. I want to make him feel comfortable and get to know me. If he does really good I will have him done fairly quickly. If he gets upset about something the grooming will take longer. I want him to like the grooming experience as much as possible."

I rarely have a puppy owner rush me after that speech.

I feel that I am a pretty patient person, but every once in a while I have a dog or puppy that really puts me to the test.

This  little guy was my most recent test.
He was a test, because nothing that I did helped him learn.
He was bound and determined to fight me the whole way.
Every time I thought that we were making headway, he decided to start fighting again.
And it is always the sweet, silly, overly happy Shih-tzu's.
Maybe it is because there doesn't seem to be a serious bone in their body.

This little guy didn't care about anything at all.
This little guy gave me several heart attacks.
I have not had to stop and count to a hundred in a long time, and I think I did that at least a dozen times with this little guy.

I put a video on You Tube.
The video is about 8 minutes long.
It took me almost 25 minutes to scissor and clip around this puppies eyes.
Fifteen minutes too long.
But I got it done.
Not the best trim in the world, but I didn't cut him.
And, he was still a happy puppy when I finished.

I tried every hold that I knew of to try to scissor around that puppies eyes.
He did not like any of them.
I was firm when I needed to be, but never mean.

Did I want to give up?
Only once or twice...well maybe three times, but I hung in there.

Years ago this puppy would have had me in tears.
Now I just get upset.
Not a mean upset.
The kind of upset you get when you are a person with vivid imagination, and you constantly visualize cutting the dogs eye out and having to hand it to the owner.

Yes, I have a sick imagination.
That is what gets me upset.
And I tell the puppy that to.

 "Look buddy, I have no desire to poke your eye out and hand it to your Mom, I let him know.

"Do you realize, you little goofball, that you are going to make me cut you?" I inform him.

"Listen you little peace of poop, you could have been finished 10 minutes ago if you would just let me cut the hair around your eyes,"  I tell him as sweetly as I can.

"Come on buddy. Please give me a break. I just need two minutes. You could be done in two minutes," I groan to him as my head hits the table in frustration.

"Go home and bite your owner for waiting till you were 6 months old for your first groom," I strongly advise him.

I told you I talk to the dogs.

Here is the link to the video.

I hope it doesn't give you grooming nightmares. :-)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. OMG I've been grooming for about 8 months and I talk to the dogs just like that. Saying not necessarily the nicest things in the sweetest voice I can manage. That way I can get the thought out of my head and the dog only hears niceness.

    1. Hi Chelsea,
      LOL It is much better to say the things that you want to say in a sweet voice so that you can get your frustrations out without upsetting the dog. It works for me. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  2. Haha! I thought I was the only one who had that kind of vivid imagination! I have a little girl shih tzu (a year old). I just love your posts! I've been reading them for an hour now.

    Couple questions for you--if I wanted to become a professional groomer, how would I go about it? I want to do it the right way but can't seem to find/don't know any reputable grooming schools out there that won't break the bank (we are relying on my husband's income only right now).

    Second, my little girl's coat is SO fine and straight on her legs, head and ears but more coarse on her body and tail. Her belly looks like the skin is dry/almost scaly-looking, and when I have dry-brushed her (I know! I don't do that anymore, I use a detangling spray), I have seen dandruff flakes. So you would think dry skin, right? Well problem is, her ~1in-1.5in coat gets greasy within 2 days! She does emit a slight sour odor as well and the SCRATCHING, oh the scratching. No open wounds, but small irritations on her skin, especially on her legs and shoulder areas. We've taken her to the vet twice about this issue and he seems to think it's either inhaled or food allergy. She is only 5 lbs. which I know is very small for a shih tzu (I didn't know she would be so little, I was not purposely looking for what "breeders" are calling Imperials etc. because I don't agree with breeding like that on purpose. And she is my baby, I wouldn't trade her for the world. I'm just trying to figure out what is causing her so much itchiness and what to do about her coat getting so greasy but also helping the dry skin! Any tips?

    Also- it pains me to even talk about it AGAIN, but Kami went to the vet this past Monday as a drop-off appointment. I KNEW I should have told them not to touch her face hair but I didn't know how to say it without being mean or them thinking I was upset that he had trimmed the puppy hair out of her eyes the first visit...anyway, I was trying to grow her face hair OUT and they BUTCHERED IT!!! It's not even 'even', they cut into her 'mustache' hair where now it's pokey when she cuddles, cut the hair that was ALMOST long enough again to get in a topknot halfway up in between her eyes!! And the thing is, I KNOW it's crucial to keep a keen eye on their eyes when growing it out and I would always be checking and keeping it away from her eyes, checking her eyes every night while I brushed her. There was no redness or excess discharge. I'm not an emotional person and I have cried over this 4 times now. Ahhhh!

    Thanks for listening, thanks for posting...wish you the best!

    1. Hi Elly,
      Thanks for reading my blog.

      This website has a list of some of the grooming school around the US. (not sure where you live)


      Grooming School prices vary. I would try to attend a grooming school. You MUST have the hands on training. There are many learn-at-home courses, but the hands on is the most important part of learning grooming.
      I will admit that the grooming school that I went to (30 years ago) was not the best school. Of course I didn't know that at the time, but it was the closest grooming school to me, and I had to take two bus to get to it at the time. (I did not drive then) I put my whole heart into learning everything that I could from that school, but there was still tons to learn even after I graduated. I still learn new things every year at seminars that I attend. I have to say that even though the grooming school I attended was not the best, it got me started in a career that I love.

      As for your little Shih-tzu.....Unfortunately, I have several shih-tzu's that come in with the same type of coat and skin condition that your little girl has. A couple of things that I would try would be to make sure that she is eating a dog food with absolutely no corn, or wheat in it. No meat-by-products. 'Blue Buffalo', 'Wilderness', Mother Hubert' are good quality dog foods. You could even try some of the 'raw' diets that come prepackaged. You also want to make sure that she gets only natural treats with no corn, or wheat, or red dyes in them.
      Also, make sure that the shampoos that you are bathing her in are hypoallergenic, or medicated, or soapless. I would also follow up a bath with a baking soda rinse to make sure there is no shampoo residue left on her. Think about keeping her on a flea treatment, either topical, a monthly pill. I give my dogs Comfortis. Some dogs are so allergic to flea bites that it only takes one bite of a passing flea to mess up their skin.

      I am sorry that you had a bad grooming experience. I do not understand why groomers do not do what their customers ask them to do. I always say that the dog I am working on is not my dog. It does not matter what 'I' think would look good on the dog. I am not the one that has to live with the dog. Unfortunately a lot of people think that if you go to a groomer at the Vet, you will get a good grooming. Sadly that is not always the case. Sometimes the 'groomer' at the Vet is just a Vet Tech-want-to-be-groomer. I would try to look for small grooming shops where the owner of the shop grooms. Also, don't ever hold back from asking the groomer questions, or letting them know exactly how you want your dog groomed. If they don't want to take the time to listen to you, walk out, with your dog and try someone else. Good groomers ARE out there.

      Hope that I have helped a little. :)
      Lisa, MFF