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, October 14, 2011

What an Idiot


I am talking about me.

I was the idiot yesterday.
Let me just say, even us seasoned groomers mess up sometimes, and do things that we know better.

Let me give you a little grooming history first.

When I went to grooming school we were not taught how to dematt a dog.
As a matter of fact, 90% of the dogs groomed at the school I went to were clipped with a #7 blade or shorter.
Even the dogs we tested on.

There was nothing like taking a test on a Springer, or Poodle, or Cocker, putting the style clip on the dog, doing all of the scissoring, get graded, and then have to shave that same dog down before it went home.

We were not allowed to let a dog go out with a style clip unless the customer had asked for it and was paying for it.
The owners were not to know that their dog  was at a grooming school, or that a student was grooming their dog.
We were also not allowed to have any contact with the customers.
So, because almost every dog was shaved down, I didn't have to deal with dematting until I left school.

Boy, was that a rude awakening.
Now I had customers coming in wanting me to get the mats out of their dogs, or claiming that their dog was not matted and wanted their dogs left long.
I was not taught how to demat, much less taught how to say 'no'.

If only I had a dollar for all of the times I stood in the grooming room, in tears, trying to figure out how to get the mats out of the dog.
There was no internet then.
There was no one to ask.
I had to figure out how to demat on my own, and I did.

I got really good at it.
I got really fast at it also.
I tried different tricks to make dematting go faster and not hurt the dog.

It took me years to learn how to say 'no'.
I have gotten very good at telling people right up front that their dog is too matted and needs to be shaved.

Yes, I have lost a few customers over this.
I had one walk right back out the door because I refused to bathe the dog with the mats and give it back to them that way.
That dog was a Newfie mix that was so tightly matted that the mats felt like rocks.

Another customer that I lost was a small Yorkie.
The first time the dog came in it was a puppy whose entire body was matted.
The owners do not want the dog shaved no matter what.
They had been brushing the dog, but only the top part of the coat.
So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and dematted the puppy.
With Best Shot Shampoo and Conditioner I was able to demat the puppy fairly easily.
Although, I did not tell the owner it was easy for me.
I showed them the correct way to brush their dog, sold them a brush, and told them if the dog was matted like that again it would have to be clipped.
They came in three more times.
The first time there were only a couple of mats, and you could tell they were trying.
I did the 5 minute demat.
The second time the dog was about 40% matted, and the owner had excuses for not brushing the dog as much.
Again I dematted the dog, and told them that I would not demat it the next time.
The last time the dog came in matted all over just like the very first time I dematted her.
I clipped her with a #5f blade.
Yes, I told them before I did it.
I always tell an owner first.
I never just shave them down.
The owners were pissed.
I never saw them again.

I had made a mistake dematting the dog the first time.
They saw no reason why I could not demat the dog every time.
Lesson learned.

Now I no longer do large demat jobs.
Notice I said 'large demat jobs'.

I still like the challenge of saving ears and tails.
I also don't mind saving legs sometimes, if I feel that the mat is not that bad.
It drives my daughter crazy.

I actually like dematting, if the dog does not mind it.
As I said before it is a challenge for me.
It actually makes me feel good when I can save a coat, and not have to make a dog look skinned.
But, I have learned to control myself and only demat dogs that are not unreasonably matted...

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I had a OES come in for the third time.
The very first time that the dog came in, it came into the Self-Serve.
The owner was bathing it herself and asked me if she was doing a good job brushing the dog.
Actually she was.
The dog was in full coat and only had mats behind its ears and some dead coat stuck in its legs and chest.
A quick brush with a good slicker brush and all of the dead coat was out.
I showed her the correct way to brush the dog, getting all of the way down to the skin.

A few months later she made an appointment for the dog to have a full grooming.
Once again the dog had some mats, but 80% of the dog was mat free.
So I dematted the dog and hand scissored half off of the dog.

That was 5 months ago.

The dog came in yesterday.
His owner wanted a bath and trim.
She knew he was matted but did not want him clipped.
He was matted on his chest, behind his ears, and all four legs.
On top of that, she had given him a bath even tough I had told her to never bath the dog without getting a comb through the coat first.

My husband brought the dog back for me to check.
That is when I turned into an idiot.
I said okay to a Bath and Trim.
I did tell her that there would be a demat charge.

I don't no!
I don't know why I told her I would demat the dog.
Maybe because the dogs body was mat free.
Maybe because I knew that the dog was really good about dematting.
Maybe I just lost my mind for a few minutes.

My husband kept asking me, 'are you sure?'
I could hear the little voice in my head saying 'what the he** are you doing?'
I could hear my daughter saying 'why are you dematting that dog Mom!'

Then my husband came back in the grooming room and told me one of the worst things he could have.
He had told the owner that I would demat the dog.
The owner told my husband that they had clipped the dog down themselves at the beginning of the summer and did not think that the short hair needed to be brushed.
The owner told him that the dog was only matted a little around her neck, and a little bit on her legs.
She also told him, 'she (meaning me) dematted her for me before.'

Once again I have created a monster.
A customer that knows I can get the mat out, and has slacked up on brushing the dog herself.

It took me 3 hours to groom the dog from start to finish.
I was pissed at myself the whole time.
Not at the dog.
Not at the owner.
At ME!

I knew better.

The inside of the back legs were so matted that I took a #5F to them.

I clipped the inside of both back legs 3/4 of the way down.

As a matter of fact, I clipped all of the matting that was very tight, and did not loosen up with the shampoo, creme rinse, and HV drying.

The green arrows are everywhere that I shaved off tight mat with a #5F balde.

I did have to use a #10 blade directly behind the ears and the belly.

Three hours for a groom that should have taken an hour.

She was wonderful!

This dog does not mind being brushed at all.

There is no reason for her to be matted.

Most of the mat came out fairly easily, it just takes time.

No reason why the owner can't do the same.

We told the owner that if the dog came in like this again, it will have to be shaved.
My daughter wanted to get that in writing.
By Me!
She wanted me to write down that I would never dematt that dog again.
She knows me so well.

The owner made an appointment for 8 weeks.
We'll see.
I'll try not to be an idiot again.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. I, too, have been grooming for a long time (25 years) and have a hard time saying no on dematting or taking dogs at the last minute etc. In grooming school can you believe I was never taught to scissor correctly. I was taught in a busy shop that would take 40 dogs throughout the day and I would dematt, shave, bath and dry the dogs while the owner/teacher would sit and scissor all day. So needless to say I learned to scissor at my first job and she was eager to teach me! I love your website so much. sometimes it sounds like my diary. I do have a crazy question what type of scissors do you use and clippers too. I noticed you use cordless I'm always afraid it will run out of power before I'm done for the day. How many dogs do you typically do in a day? I've been running into these super super tiny dogs that are scared to death of everything and the clippers are twice the size they are do you use anything different? I usually just end up scissoring the whole dog as they try to dive off the table. I do a lot of hard to handle dogs because I actually feel good about myself when I can groom a dog that no one else can. I hope to hear from you! Thanks for your help! You have given me some ideas too thanks! When do you find time to do your diary?

  2. Hi Nancy,
    It is nice to know that I am not the only softy out there. :) Believe me, I understand about the grooming school. I didn't have any choice at the time but to go to a grooming school that was closest to me. I still had to take two buses and walk part of the way to get there everyday. I did not find out, till it was almost time to graduate, what a bad reputation they had. Although I already had some idea that I was missing out on a lot. Plus, I was left handed and the head of the school kept telling me that she would order me left handed shears. (which did not exist at the time) I was so worried about being left behind at the time that I started scissoring with my right hand. I have often wondered what my scissor work would look like if I scissored left handed.
    Anyway, I am glad you found someone who was nice enough to teach you how to scissor. Scissoring is my favorite part of grooming. I am actually faster at scissoring a dog than I am at clipping it. Isn't that crazy? :)
    Okay, let's see, my scissors...I don't go for really expensive scissors. I have had dogs kick them out of my hand way too many times to spend a couple of hundred dollars on one pair of scissors. I would just have to lay down and cry if I dropped them or a dog kicked them. I also do not like a really heavy shear, because I like using the 10" shears both curved and straight. I really like Heritage Stiletto Shears. Depending on the size, they are usually under $60 a shear. Here is where I get them from:

    As for the cordless clippers...I LOVE two of them, both made by Wahl The Chromado and The Arco SE Cordless. I love both of these clippers for feet and faces because they are so quite. I groom a lot of hard to handle dogs also. I feel the same way about them that you do.
    Either one of these two cordless clippers work really great with those types of dogs and puppies. My daughter and I each have a Chromado. We also have an extra, older one that we share if we lose charge on one of ours. They do charge back up fairly quickly about 30 minutes.
    If you can only afford one clipper, I would get the Arco SE for around $120 and a replacement battery for $35. That way if you lose charge in the middle of, say, clipping feet, all you have to do is pop one battery out to be charged and put the other charged up battery in. No down time. They used to come with two batteries, but I am not sure if they still do.
    I am the same as you with tiny dogs. If I don't feel comfortable taking a blade over them I will scissor the whole dog.
    How many dogs do I do in a day?
    Gone are the days when I used to groom 10-16 dogs by myself. (the 16 dog days I would pay someone to help bathe some of them for me) I couldn't even tell you how I managed that. I did manage to burn myself out a few times over the years. :/
    Now I groom 6-7 a day, all full grooms. We have a Self-Serve so I don't do many B&B's anymore. A lot of my dogs are hard to handle or special needs dogs, puppies, and full hand scissor puppy cuts, so they take extra time. Oh, and of course all of the ones I tend to demat, but that is okay because my daughter is there to groom all of the others. :)
    I hope I covered everything. I am glad you like the blog. I spend my evenings blogging. It is actually relaxing for me. It was nice to hear from a groomer who sounds like they groom like me. :)
    Take care,
    Lisa, MFF