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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday's Tip #30 Clipping Mats From Behind Ears

Well, we survived  Irene with very little damage.

( If you don't want to read about my Irene adventure, just scroll down to the end of this post for today's grooming tip.)

Thankfully we still have electricity, although there are quite a few people that don't have theirs back yet, my father being one of them.
He is 84, lives by himself, and has been without electricity since Saturday at 10:15pm.
There is a possibility that he will not get it back until Saturday.
He is a tough old bird, if I do say so myself.

We spent Saturday night in our basement with all of the dogs.
It is a club basement, so it wasn't that much of a hardship.
It did take the awhile for the dogs to settle down.
They could not figure out why they were not in their own beds or in mine.
The basement was the safest place to be if a tree fell on the house.
We had flashlights ready, and the bathtub filled with water.

The wind was really bad around 3am, and was supposed to get better by morning.
The wind woke me at 6:45am, and the gusts were stronger then during the night.

There is nothing like watching 50 & 60 foot Oak trees swaying back and forth all around your house.
Listening to the news did not help.
All they were talking about were trees down everywhere.

We were very lucky.

There were downed branches all around the house, and one large downed tree that fell into the woods away from the house.

I forgot to take pictures before my son and I cleared the driveway and the private drive to our house.

One branch was the size of a small tree across our driveway.
I managed to get stabbed in the side while my son and I moved that thing off of the driveway.

There were a couple of smaller downed trees blocking the path we take down to the horses.

It didn't matter, because we were not about to take that path down to check on the horses with the wind still blowing like crazy.

This was the only large tree that snapped in half and fell not far from the house.

We decided to walk down the private road to the horses, not that a tree could not fall on us there also, but it just seemed like the safer thing to do.

We cleaned up all of the branches off of there too.

  The most damage was down around the horses.
Thankfully, the horse were fine.

Their two sacrifice areas were a muddy mess, and there were a lot of downed branches in the paddock and on their run-in shed.

I was a little more worried about my younger, crazy horse than I was about my 30 year old rescue horse.
The young one can be a nut sometimes.

They both didn't seem the least bit worried about the wind, they just wanted breakfast.

Thankfully nothing fell on the hay shed or the tack room.

We did have two trees fall on one section of fence in the pasture.

It was a small tree that was by the creek, but it will be a pain to remove because it is covered in poison ivy and poison oak.

I can't get near the stuff till it dies off in the fall.

 To top everything off, I didn't wear my boots down to the horses, and I paid for it.

While walking around, cleaning up branches, my shoe got stuck and I lost my balance.

I couldn't stop what happened next.

My bare foot sinks ankle deep into the mud.

Now, I know there are lady's out there that pay a lot of money at spas for mud wraps, but I bet that mud does not have horse pee in it.

Oh, and of course I didn't have any socks on either.

I was about 25 feet from the gate and did not want to put my muddy foot back in my shoe.

I don't know who was laughing harder as I walked out of the paddock, me or me son.

Yes I do...my son for sure!

At least I was able to walk over to the creek and wash my foot off enough to put my shoe back on.

My son's chickens were deffinatly freaked out.
Several large branches hit and bounced off of their house, and their pen was filled with branches.

They freaked while we cleaned up around them, but once they got their breakfast they calmed down.

I am not complaining at all.
Compared to some of the awful things I have seen on T.V. that Irene caused, we got off very lucky.

Okay, enough of that.

On to Tuesday's grooming tip.  :)

This tip is another one of the things that I like to do when removing mats from behind a dogs ears.
It is not a 'the right way' or 'the wrong way', it is just how I remove the mats in hopes that the dog will not become irritated.

How cute is she.
What sweet heart she is.

The hair under and behind her ears is very thick and has the typical mats behind the ears.

As always, I wash all of my dogs before I groom them.

I use a medicated shampoo and a conditioner on the mats. 
I work the conditioner into the mats with my fingers.
I also pull the mats apart and way from the skin as much as I can without hurting he dog.

I want the mats loosened just enough to have some airspace between the skin and mat.

In grooming school I was taught to take a #10 or #15 blade, get the blade as close to the skin as possible, and clip under that mat.

It always left a large bald spot behind the ear.
I was always afraid that the dog would go home and scratch that bald spot with it's sharp, freshly clipped nails.

Now I always try very hard to leave as much hair as possible.

First, I move all of the good, un-matted hair out of the way.

I still use a #15 blade, but I try very hard not to touch the skin if at all possible.

 I want to leave as much hair as I can, even if there is only a little peach fuzz left.

I pick at the air space between the mat and skin very slowly with my blade.

I am also very careful about only cutting the mat, not any good hair.

Even if the owner wants the ears trimmed up or shortened, I leave as much good hair as I can so that the clipped section will not show.

I can blend the clipped area in later when I trim the ears.

The mat is gone, but the spot is not bald, and is less likely to become irritated.

I know that it might be hard to understand exactly what I mean by, picking at the mat, and the pictures really don't show what I am doing, so I took a short video when I clipped the mats out of the other ear.

All of the mat is gone and the shaved spot is not noticeable. 

Sometimes mats behind the ears are so tight that you have no other choice but clip close to the skin and leave a bald spot.
If I have to clip that close behind the ears, I always show the owner the mats that I cut out.
I also show them the bald spot it left behind the ear, and tell them to make sure that their dog does not scratch behind the ears.
I also explain to them that removing a mat, that was so tight it was pulling the skin, may feel funny to the dog and will cause the dog to shake it's head alot or want to scratch the shaved area.
Explain to them what may happen if their dog does scratch behind their ears.

The main reason  for showing them the mat and bald spot behind the ear, is so they know before they leave the shop, that there is no irritation when they picked the dog up.
If irritation develops later, they will know that it is because their dog most likely scratched.

I hope this helps.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Coming Our Way

Just a quick note tonight.
Hurricane Irene is due to strike here in Maryland tomorrow around 6 pm.
Thankfully I don't live on the eastern shore, but I live close to the Chesapeake Bay.
I also live in the boonies, with literally hundreds of very tall oaks all around my house.
We will be holding our breath tomorrow, that no trees fall.
We will be getting 65mph wind gusts.
There is also a very good chance that we will lose our electricity.
The only question is...how long will we be without electric?
The longest time that we have been without it was a week.
Let's hope that that does not happen this time.

I guess the bottom line is..if you don't hear from me for a few days, I have no electricity!
Please say a prayer for all of those in Irene's path, and for those of you that live in her path, I am saying a prayer for you.  :)

Be Safe!  MFF

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grooming a Wire hair Jack Russel

Today I had a new customer come in with a Wire Haired Jack Russel.

She was pretty shaggy, and had not been groomed in awhile.

The Dad dropped him off.

When asked what he wanted done to the dog, I got the usual 'take her short.'

 I noticed that most of the top of her head was already very short, except for the wiry hairs sticking out, so I asked him if he wanted her as short as the top of her head.

"Yes, that's fine," he said.

My first thought was to use a #5F blade.

  As I was bathing her, I noticed that her hair was past ready to be hand stripped.

I do not offer Hand Stripping for 3 reasons.
One, it is way too time consuming.
Two, the owners do not want to pay the high price of this service.
And three, my wrists can no longer handle hand stripping.

Although, I did do a little hand stripping on this dog anyway.

When grooming a lot of  wire haired Terrier's, you will notice that most of them have a thick, plushy coat next to the skin, with a ton of long wiry hairs sticking out of that plushy coat.

The outer coat dries very quickly, but the plushy undercoat takes longer to dry.
It is very important to get the entire coat completely dry to get a nice smooth cut on this type of coat, no matter how short of a blade you are using.

If you leave the coat damp or even a little tacky, the cut will look choppy.

The more that I worked with the coat, the more I thought that the #5F was too short to use on this dog.

I really wanted to hand strip this dog.
I had a little Terrier for almost 20 years that I used to hand strip.

I love the way the coat looks after it has been hand stripped.

 So I hand stripped a small part of the dogs back to see what the natural length would be if she was hand stripped all over.

It is hard to see in the picture, but I decided to use a 12mm clip comb to match the length that was left after stripping.

The clip comb left just the right length.

It cut off the wiry hair, but did not chop into the plushy coat underneath.

The hair on the dogs side ran right through the comb without being cut, so I skimmed the sides against the grain to match the rest of the cut.

I did not use full pressure, just enough to remove the length of hair I wanted.

The hair on the legs just laughed at the clip comb also, so I clipped the legs against the grain also.

The clip comb left a very nice plushy, velvety finish.

It left the hair looking short, like the owner wanted, but it also left the hair looking natural, not shaved.

Now for that head.

I decided to hand strip the head and ears.

It looked like someone had shaved this dogs head against the grain before, and all of the hair was not growing back right.

You could still see some of the old blade marks in the thinned out areas of the top of the head.

See those wispy, wiry hairs?

I plucked all of them off of the head, up to the eyebrows, to make the top of the head nice and smooth.

The hair was so ready to be plucked.

I plucked the top of the head from the back of the eyebrows to the back of the head, blending into the neck.


I forgot.

I have a little tip for you when plucking, or hand stripping the hair.

You can wear Latex gloves to help grab hold of the hair.
Or, if you don't have any, like me, you can use ear powder.

Just pour a little out on a piece of paper or paper towel.

 Dip the fingers you are going to use in the powder.

The powder will help you to grab and hold on to the hair you are plucking.

Don't worry, the powder will be on the hair you are plucking off, and not your clean dog.

On to the ears.

Terrier ears look so nice when they are plucked.

If I used a blade to clip this hair off, it would still leave part of the ear looking gray from the shaved gray hair.

But, if you hand strip them...

 Pluck a little hair at a time.

The same way you pluck the inside of the ears.

The dog does not mind the plucking when you pluck small sections at a time.

Also if the hair does not pluck easily, the hair may not be ready or able to be plucked.

Look how nice that ear is.  :)

I also plucked her cheeks.

Now for around the eyes.

Yes, I am going to pluck the corner of the eyes too.

I plucked the corners and between the eyes a little.

I did not have to pluck a lot to open up the eyes.

I also did not pluck all of the hair between the eyes.

I did not want Schnauzer eyebrows.

I only used the scissors for a few things on her head.

I shaped up the eyebrows, soft and round, and shortened the beard and rounded off the mustache.

I am be no means an expert on grooming Terriers.
So, for any Terriers Breeders or Groomers, don't yell at me for clipping the dog.

Remember...Pet grooming.
The groom that I did on the dog above is a 'Pet Groom'.

The most important thing is whether or not the owner liked it.

The Dad picked her up.
He said, "she looks nice," and left.

Okay... how many times has that happened?
You work hard to make a dog look as nice as you can, and hardly get any reaction from the owner.
Then you give a Beagle a bath, and those owners praise you up and down.
It almost never fails.
You feel so deflated after the owner leaves, and you are just not sure whether they liked it or not.

Well, today ended on a good note.
The wife called about an hour after the dog went home.
She wanted to make another appointment.
"That is the best grooming she has ever had," the wife said.

:)  :)   :)   :)

A win, win day.
The dog was super sweet, and the owner liked the groom!!

Hope you have a win, win day...everyday!


Happy Grooming, MFF