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, 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


  1. I have noticed this with older oes, im glad i read this post cause I know im not crazy. Its usually just frantic barking and the dog looks like it is in a different world

  2. First wrap all dogs tightly in towel and hoodie , then start with hot hv dryer really close to the skin at the base of the tail until dry , then the hips and so on , the wind ( even while hot ) causes the dog to freeze, keep the towel around him/her and your arm over or under and hold them close while your ( left arm over/under )facing the rear of the dog. I have done it this way for many years now and it works on 90 percent of my dogs, making it faster easier safer...Priscilla Carlson , CA.

  3. Thanks Priscilla,
    I agree with you 100%. I do what you do with my small and medium dogs, only I start at the back foot and work my way up. It's a little harder to hold those big, tall dogs in a hug. :)
    Sometimes we will turn the HV dryer on very low to let the motor warm up a little while we are bathing the dog so that the air will be a little warmer when we start to dry. Yes, even warm air feels freezing cold when your soaking wet. :)

  4. Whereabouts in Tennessee? That's where I am! Small world.

    1. Hi Melissa,
      They lived in Knoxville. My Mom passed away in Aug, and her husband moved back to Maryland.
      Lisa, MFF

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