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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesdays Tip..Dematting with Thinning Shears

*Note: You will note that this post is titled Tuesdays Tip. That is because I wrote it yesterday, only yesterday a new patch came out for World of Warcraft. Since my son and I share the internet, I could not upload anything while he was fighting in a dungeon, or he would lag and be killed, and then Mom (me) will be killed because my upload made him lag and he was killed and lost whatever it was he was trying to win...
If you have a 17 year old son..you understand.  :/

So anyway, here is yesterday's post.

It seems to be a dirty word in the grooming world these days.
If you can believe all the comments on the grooming boards, most groomers don't demat anymore.

I will admit that I don't demat as much as I did when I first started grooming.
Back then I didn't know how to say 'no'.
I thought that I had to do whatever the owner wanted.

No wonder my wrists are shot now.
All of those coats that I dematted the first 15 or so years of my grooming career.

Yes...I said 15 years...yes, I dematted dogs all that time.
I can't help it if it took me 15 years to get a backbone and learn how to say 'no' to dematting.

Well, lets put it this way..I say 'no' 80% of the time now, for the body and legs anyway.
I almost never say 'no' for the ears, tail and faces.
I don't know why.
It's some kind of hang up that I have.
To me, the face, ears, and tails are the personality of the dogs.
I want hair on the face, and ears so that I can scissor a cute face. 
I don't even want to talk about how I feel when I see a shaved rats tail on a dog.

I know that other groomers would think that I am nuts, but I actually like  dematting.
I guess it is because of all of those years of dematting dogs that I should have been clipping.

I actually got pretty good and fast at dematting, and saving the coat.

To this day I also use every trick I know to save tails, ears and faces.
I am also really good at dematting without hurting the dog.
I also like the challenge. 
But, not at the cost of the dog.

If it is hurting the dog, or the dog can not stand to be brushed and combed, I have no problem getting on the phone and telling a customer that the dogs coat can not be saved.

Boy, I am getting defensive aren't I?

I guess it is because I know that there are so many groomers out there that think a dog should be clipped short no matter how little matting the dog has on it.

"If the dog as any mats, the owner doesn't deserve to have a longer cut."

I have had this discussion with other groomers before.
I have this discussion with my own daughter at least a couple of times a week.

Believe me, I have no desire to do anything to hurt a dog.
At the same time I don't agree that every dog that comes in with mats must be clipped short.

To me there are different types of matted dog owners, and the reason why I demat for them.

~There is the owner that really does try to brush out their dog.
I don't mind trying to save their dogs coat.

~There is the owner that does not even own a brush for their dog, but they are a regular customer that comes in every 4-5 weeks.
I don't mind saving their coat either.

~Then there are the owners that look at you like you have 6 heads when you mention mats. 
They don't have a clue.
You sit there for 10 minutes or more explaining about the mats, showing them the mats, explaining how they happen, explaining what they need to do between groomings to keep their dog mat free, explaining why you may have to clip their dog shorter than they want it.
Then you stop talking.
You look at the owner.
You see the dead look in their eyes.
You lost them way back at 'your dog is matted'.
So what do you do?
I demat the dag-gone dog, because I am drained, I can't explain anymore.

~Then there is the dreaded owner who is denial that their dog is matted.
Well, not really denial, they damn well know that their dog is matted, but they will stand there and argue with you till they are blue in the face.
For some strange reason you let them intimidate you.
You don't want the aggravation.
So, you dematt the dog, and you are pissed off at yourself the entire time, and you sware up and down that you will never do this for this owner again.
You tell the dog to go home and bite their owner for you.
Lastly, you make a note on the file to be booked up until the year 2020 the next time this owner calls.

I never said that all the reasons that I demat are sane reasons.

With the tools available to groomers today, most of the dogs that come into me with mats get most of the mats removed with the shampoos, conditioners, and HV dryers.
Now a days, by the time I put a matted dog on my table, most of the mats have been loosen up considerably, or blown out of the coat leaving very little matting behind.

I will also say that brushing and combing out clean mats is a lot easier than brushing or combing out mats on a dirty dog.

Okay, I have rambled on long enough.

I realize that I am just trying to justify the fact that I like to demat coats that I feel can be saved.

So I'll get off of my soapbox and give a little tip of one of the ways that I demat.

I had a Shih-tzu in the other day whose coat was about 3 inches long.

The owner wanted the proverbial 'puppy cut', about 1/2 inch off all over.

The Shih-tzu had mats here and there all over the body and legs.

After a bath of a mixture of oatmeal shampoo and 'The Stuff', conditioner, and a HV dry to loosen the mats, I used my thinning shears to demat the coat.

First, I find the section of mat that I want to work on.

I brush the mat a little just to loosen it up away from the skin.

 Then I take my thinning shears and make a couple of cuts right across the mat itself.

* Remember that mats pull the skin, so do not cut too close to the skin. Thinning shears will cut skin just as badly as scissors will.

I don't want to cut until the mat falls off.
I don't want to leave a hole in the hair.

I thin the mat just enough with the thinning shears so that I can easily brush and comb the mat out of the coat.

 I brush the mat again.

If it is not coming out easily, I will thin it again with the thinning shears.

I brush again and then follow up with the comb to get the small pieces of mat out of the coat.

Here you can see how the large mat in the above picture was thinned out into a lot of little mats.

Here the comb has finished removing the smaller pieces of mats.

The comb now glides through the coat.

The area where the mat was may be thinned out , but there is no hole left in the coat, and the mat was removed without hurting the dog.

These are the double toothed thinning shears that I use for dematting.

I use these because they are thinners on both sides and don't cut as much hair with each cut as a thinning shear with a blade on one side does.

These thinning shears were my very first ones.
I have had them for 27 years.

They have seen a lot of mats.  :)

So, instead of this little lady getting clipped with a #4 or #5 blade...

I was able to do the good old 'puppy cut'.

What a good girl she was.

She looks happy too.  :)

Below is a really quick video of me dematting a section of mat with the thinning shears.

I hope this helps.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Groomed Pikachu

Okay...not really, but I swear, when I was finished grooming this dog he reminded me of 'Pikachu'.

I have been grooming this American Eskimo for a long time.
He has always had a very thick coat.
His owner has always had me scissor him up tight.

This was him in 2009.

He was still very thick, but was starting to lose his coat around the rear and the tail.

This is him in 2010.

He gets groomed every 3 months.

This is a picture of him before his bath.

Hardly any of his hair has grown back since his last grooming.

All of his rear feathering is gone.

He is totally bald in the back.

He was also going bald around his neck and his hair was no longer growing back.

In 2010 the Vet finally diagnosed him with Cushing's disease.

He was put on medication.

This was him as of August 2010.
The medication was really working on him.

I would have bet that the hair would never grow back on those bald spots.

The bald spots were still there, but they were getting smaller.

As you can see, his hair was also growing back from his hair cuts.

This was him on Saturday.

OMG has his hair grown back with a vengeance.

 He also no longer blows coat.

It is like a pelt.

It's not matted, but it feels like a pelt.

The bald spot on his neck is gone completely.

His rear has totally grown back in.

No bald spots here either.

His tail is still very thinned out, but hair has even grown back on it.

His Mom is happy that his bald spots are gone, but she wants me to scissor at least half of his hair off.

So I did.

And he still looks like a giant cotton ball.

 Isn't he cute?

I wish that I could get him to close his mouth, but he never does.

He does remind you of something or someone doesn't he?

Come on, you see it, I know you do.

Here, let me help...

It's Pikachu!

Think that his Mom would let me do a little creative grooming?

Happy Grooming, MFF

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Using a Grooming Loops..Not

I don't use any type of grooming loops.

Well, that is not totally true.
We do have Grooming Loops in our tubs, but I do not use them for every dog.

I do require my Self-Serve customers to use the Grooming Loops in our Self-Serve tubs.

The Grooming School that I went to had homemade tables with no Grooming Loops.
There wasn't even a place to put a Grooming Loop if you wanted to use one.

The owner of the school believed that you should be able to keep your dog on your table.
God help you if she saw your dog jump off that table.

I only had two dogs jump off of my table.
Thankfully my instructor was not in the room either time.

I have talked before about the little white poodle that jumped off and took off out the back door into the fenced yard.
I tackled her half way across the yard, and got my first bite in the process.
That little stinker could have bitten me all day, there was no way that I was going to let go of her.
You better believe I didn't let anyone open that back door during grooming for the rest of the time I was there.

The other dog that jumped off the table was a Spaniel mix that jumped off of my table half a dozen times within 5 minutes.
I was in tears.
The receptionist came over and held the dog on the table for me.
(That was another thing that the teacher did not like...other people helping you.)
He was one of those types of dogs that would have jumped even with a Grooming Loop.

Sorry, got off track.

I have nothing against using Grooming Loops, or The Groomers Helper, or The Lips system.

Well...that's not all together true.

I am not that crazy about The Lips system, but I don't knock other groomers for using them.

I have been surprised at how many groomers get upset at me for not using a Grooming Loop.
I very rarely have a dog jump off of my table.
Of course, my grooming back board keeps most dogs from even trying to jump.
I like having three sides of my table closed off.

What about the open side?
Well, that may be the only good thing about being a full figured woman, my dogs have a hard time getting past me.  :)

I don't like using Grooming Loops simply because they get in my way.

I am always turning my dogs.
I even have most of them trained to turn on command, even the big dogs.
I just tap the table were I want them to turn and they turn for me.

I don't mind them sitting while I groom.

I don't mind if they sit on my back board while I groom them.

They can even lay down if they want to.


They can do what the Portuguese Water Dog I groomed today did.

They can roll over onto their back.

This was the only way that she would let me pluck her ears.

 She actually stayed still lying like this.

When I tried to pluck her ears while she was standing or sitting, she kept jerking her head away.

When I let her lay down and roll over, she let me pluck the ears.

Go figure.

I am all for working with the dog, and doing whatever helps the dog feel comfortable.

I like not using a Grooming Loop.
I am very careful with my furry friends.
I have seen dogs try an jump off of a table with a Grooming Loop around their neck.
It is enough to take 5 years off of your life.

If you use a Grooming Loop, don't become over confident that your dog won't jump.
They can still jump and hang.

I even take the Grooming Arm and Loop off of my table when I compete.
I haven't gotten in trouble with the Judges yet.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Client Notes

I am used to getting notes from customers about what they want on their dogs.
Some are short and to the point, and others are full of exact details.

I have had customers bring in printouts from the internet, mainly for Labradoodles.
I have other customers bring in a breed book showing me how to groom their dog.

I had one customer bring in the front of a Milkbone box and tell me that she wanted her dogs head to look like that dog.
You know the one...with the very cute Westie.

Only her dog was not a Westie.
It's ears didn't even stand up.

I even have one customer that loved the way I groomed her little Maltese so much the first time, that she took a picture of the dog.
She has been back at least a dozen times since that first grooming and brings that picture with her every time to remind me what I did.  :)

Today I had a first.

I got a note, but it had no words on it.

(I hope that you can see this well enough.)

The note was a drawing.

I thought that it was cute.

What do you think was the first thing that I noticed on this note/drawing?

How many of you guessed 'the ears'?

How many of you guessed the 'eyelashes'?

The 'eyelashes' have it!

I could not help but start to laugh when I saw the drawing.
The drawing was about how she wanted the ears to look, but she made sure that I was not to forget about leaving the eyelashes.

  This little lady is an Australian Labradoodle.

She is the only one that I groom.

She has one tightly curled coat.

It is a job getting this coat fluffed out straight.

If you look hard you can see her long eyelashes.

I have never touched them.

Not even to trim them.

I am still waiting for her to at least ask me to trim them a little.

This dogs Vet told the owner that she needs to shorten and get rid of a lot of the hair on the ear to allow the ears to stay infection free.

I wonder if her Vet said anything to her about how long the dogs lashes are.

 So, on to the ears.

The owner does not want the ears 'shaved' short.

She wants me to make them short and cute at the same time.


I like short and cute ears.

They look a lot better than long, stringy ears.

I scissored them up to just below the leather.

I clipped the inside of the ear all of the way down, with the #15 blade.

I thought about skimming the outside of the ears with a clip comb, but decided instead to layer them with my scissors.

I think that I groomed her pretty close to the owners drawing.

Right down to the eyelashes.

Only I was not able to make them curl up like in the drawing.  :)

Maybe I should go out and buy one of those eyelash cruncher thingies that I have seen women use.

Maybe I wouldn't mind leaving them so much if they curled up.


They are just too long for me.

The owner was happy with the ears.

I don't want to think about what would happen if I ever forgot and cut those lashes off.

 I liked her drawing.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF