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, November 15, 2011


What a mess!

I don't get very many dogs in anymore that look like they have not been groomed in over a year.
When I first opened my shop, I groomed matted dogs all of the time.
Mainly because I was trying to build a clientele, and took every person that called, even same day appointments and walk-ins.

It was mostly those same day appointments and walk-ins that had the really matted dogs.

I no longer take same day appointments or walk-ins...ever.
Even if I had a cancellation.
Owners that call and want their dogs groomed right then and there always turn out to be trouble.
They show up later than the time you told them to be there .
Their dogs are in bad shape.
You end up waiting for them to pick up their dog after your closing time.

Today we had a new customer on the books who walked in two weeks ago to make an appointment for her three dogs.
We were able to give her an appointment for two of them for today.
She waited two weeks for this appointment.

When a new customer comes in, my husband gets them to fill out the paper work, and then he comes to get me to talk to the owner about what they want done on the dog.
When I came into the lobby, the owner was not there.

"Where did she go?" I asked my husband.
"She went back out to the car to get her dog," he told me.

So I stood there waiting for a couple of minutes before the owner walked back in the door.

This is what she carried into my lobby.

I was not expecting this.

Then she went to get her other dog.

Can you smell them?

I still can.
I think the smell is stuck in my nose.
I had such a headache by the time I got first dog in the tub.

The owner told us that her and her husband divorced last year, and he took the dogs with him out of spite.
Her daughter told the owner that her father was not taking care of the dogs.
The owner waited till her ex-husband went on vacation, then she went and took her dogs back.
That was a couple of weeks ago, when she made the appointment.

We put the Brussels Griffon in the tub first.
He was mostly covered in dirty dreadlocks.
I scissored most of the dreadlocks off in the tub before we bathed him.
Both of the dogs are 4 years old, but the Brussels didn't act like he had ever been groomed before.
It was no fun trying to scissor around his eyes.
He also wanted no parts of the dryer.

 My daughter clipped him down with a #5f, and scissored the face the best she could.

It was impossible to get a good picture of him.

He never stopped moving.  :/

The other dog turned out to be a lot more work.

I actually thought about bathing this dog first.

Not to do a wet clip.
I didn't think that would be safe on this dog.

This dog smelled soooo bad.

But, because the other dog acted up so badly in the tub and especially for the dryer, I was afraid that this dog would act the same way.

If I was going to clip this dog after the bath, it was extremely important that I was able to use the HV dryer to pull the mats away from the skin.

If this dog was like his friend, there was no way he was going to let me dry him the way I would need to.

So I decided to clip him before the bath.

His head and all four of his legs were the worst.

This is what the bottom of his feet looked like.

I could not find the pads of his feet with my fingers.

His back legs were just as bad as the front legs.

That is not his one leg and tail.

It is both of his back legs.

His feet are in there somewhere.

You could only see two toes nails on one front foot.

Those were the only toe nails that you could see on all four of her feet.

I don't know how the poor guy was walking.

The ears were matted to the head and neck.

There are eyes in there somewhere.

The first thing that I did was clear the eyes.

It was just a matter of finding a safe place to start.

Luckily, even though the dog was matted badly, there was a good airspace between the matting and the skin.

As soon as I cleared the eyes and around the mouth and cheeks, I spent a few minutes giving the dog a nice face massage.

He loved that.

I used a #7F blade to remove most of the mat on the face and head.

I had to use a #10 blade on the ears.

I was able to peel the mats off of the legs with a #7F blade...till I got to the feet.

I had to pick at the mats with a #15 and #30 blade to find the pads and toes of the feet.

Surprisingly, only one nail had grown into the pad  of a toe.

I am surprised that I did not find more.

Most of the nails were curled around to the side of the toes.

A couple of nails had broken off into the mat.

Look how badly the pad has dry rotted on this dogs toe.

I could not tell how far the nail had grown into the pad...

...till after I cut the nail.

It had grown pretty far into the pad.

I sprayed the wound with peroxide, and cleaned it out well.

He was such a good boy.

I think that he knew I was trying to help him.

I went over the rest of his body with a #4F blade to get the rest of the hair off.

Time for a bath.

Any body have a Neddi Pot?

I need to clean the smell out of my nose.

I can still smell this dog.

He got a bath in deodorizing shampoo followed up with a Medicated bath.

His pads were falling apart from dry rot.

Pieces of pads were all over the tub.

I made the right decision to clip before the bath.
Just like his friend, he wanted nothing to do with the HV dryer.

As usual, with most badly matted dogs, he was great for the before clip, and all over the place for the finish clip.

It is like they feel so good and so free that they can't stand still any longer. :)

Was the owner telling the truth about how they got so matted?

I am not sure.
I hope so.
She made another appointment for them to have a bath in six weeks.
I hope that she keeps the appointment.

We will be grooming her third dog next week.
I hope that she brought the worst two in first.
We will see.

At least these two feel better tonight.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. I'm so glad that these poor darlings ended up in your salon and were freed from their furry prisons (even though your nose may take a while to recover). They must feel so relieved. I hope that karma bites the person who allowed them to get into such an appalling state, and that it blesses you for helping them.

  2. that´s horrible, how do they let the poor dogs been that way, it´s been a while since i don´t get a dog matted that bad, we do a lot of adoption asociation work and groomed dog of the streets.... and they are in better way than this poor dogs :S

  3. Oh Lisa, I am so happy for these two babies that they came to see you! I can only imagine how good they feel now! And they do seem to know you are helping them, don't they? I find that even if sometimes they are fighting at first, the moment they can move their shoulders freely, even just wiggle them around without it pulling on the hair connected to their tail, they "get it"... what is happening is good.

    When they've been that covered for so long, they haven't had any stimulation on their skin, and it makes the HV so much more scary for them. Even if its the best (and sometimes only safe) option. We can't usually convince them of that, though. :( You would think as groomers in an SPCA the only animals we see in that condition are from the shelter itself but sadly we see customers dogs like that, too. Who in their right mind would bring a dog like that to the place that can charge them?!

    I guess it's obvious that they aren't in their right mind if they've allowed this to happen. I hope the husband's home smells like that for a long time. I might have offered her their pelts so she could hide them under the couch or the bed or something at his house... ;)

  4. I've been reading your blog over the last few nights. You are doing such awesomely good things for these dogs. I am not a groomer but a person who just got a puppy and I dont want him to end up like some of these dogs you have to clean up.

  5. Wow. We had a labradoodle come in exactly like this 3 weeks ago. He was one solid mat from tip of his nose to the mass of tail. We did a #10 on his whole body and next to his rectum was a gaping wound I could only assume was a burst abcess. The owner had no good excuse why his dog was in such terrible condition, and get this, he was a DOCTOR!!

  6. Thanks Bev,
    I hate seeing dogs matted this badly, but at the same time I actually love clipping these dogs. I love knowing that I am the one that is going to make them feel better. It makes me feel that my job IS important. I like knowing that I have a skill that can help a dog feel better.
    Every groomer should remind themselves that their job IS important!
    Actually, what I would like to do is sew that dogs pelt to the husbands shirt, right below his chin and make him wear that shirt for a year without taking it off, and NO shower for a year, that is the only way he could possibly have any idea of what he did to his dog.
    I don't mean to sound so mean, but some owners will never get it.
    Lisa, MFF

  7. Hi Holly,
    Thank you for reading my blog. :)
    I am sure you will do great with your puppy. Just the fact that you are taking time to search the net about taking care of your puppy shows that.
    Dogs get mats. It does not always mean that the owners are bad. Some dogs are very bad about being brushed. I just wish that we could educated the owners more about having their dogs professionally groomed when they are unable to care for the dogs coat themselves.
    Unfortunately, I have met owners that don't think that there is anything wrong with letting their dog mat up.
    Please keep reading the blog. I will be announcing another blog soon, just for pet owners.
    Lisa, MFF

  8. Hi Lauren,
    Isn't it amazing when a professional like that abuses their dog. I have seen that so many times. It is one thing for an owner on a fixed income going so far between groomings. At least they have an excuse for not being able to afford to get their dog groomed before it gets matted.
    But, a matted Labradoodle that needs to be shaved with a #10 blade took a long time to get that way. You know he can afford to have the dog groomed regularly. I just don't understand it. Why get a dog if you don't want, or have the time to take care of it?

  9. Hi Min,
    Thanks. I really did feel like I could still smell those dogs. I was sure that we would walk into the shop the next day and still have that smell filling the shop. We clean every night, but that smell was unbelievable. Thankfully there was no lingering smell the next day. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  10. Hi Nikole,
    I don't see dogs like that very often either. The sad thing is that those dogs weren't running the streets. It's hard to imagine that they were actually living in someones home.
    Good grief what does his house look and smell like?!
    Lisa, MFF

  11. it´s what i think, how people can see their dogs been this way every day and do nothing, i think they don´t even touch their dogs.
    but i love when you get off all that hair that is bothering the dog and they felt so relieve, like they feel the touch of your hands 50 times nicer.
    i had a dog years ago in other salon that i worked that always come really matted every 8 months or more, and the owner bring the dog in a plastic bag because she didn´t want to touch her...

    imagine the life of that poor dog! i tried to teach her and told her that the dog was suffering, and she always said "il come back in a month", and then come back in almost a year :S

  12. We offer free grooming to a local non-profit no-kill shelter, I get dogs like this one at least 3 times a week in the summers. 8 years ago when I started grooming, if I saw a dog like this it would actually make me cry. I don't cry anymore, I don't know if it's because I may be desensitized to this now, or if the pet is matted and someone (no matter the crazy tale, and there always is some form of the game "pass the blame". I'd rather not hear a story now with my customers.)as long as the pet's current guarding is seeking care for the pet, and grooming in the case of severe mats I feel like the pet is being liberated. Like he/she can almost start over again, not just the coat, but the chance at trust with people. I hate the smell, it's like hott butt and garbage with a twist of iron, but I love the look a pet gives me when I start to shave their mats away. I love starting face first, that way they can see first hand that they are being freed, and often that is your only way in with more severe cases. In a perfect world people would just knuckle down and groom their own pets to avoid this if they cannot afford to pay for the pet to be groomed professionally. A lot of my customers bring their pets in every 6 months, with an at home groom in between, the haircut is atrocious but it takes away the bulk of the hair and they manage to find time to brush regularly. I love any customer that actually takes the time to groom their own pet, I try to explain it as a 'bonding experience' to the owner, that their pet will gain some sort of respect from the owner if they can manage to groom them at home. In reality it makes my job easier by making the pet expect a routine grooming and struggle less, I LOVE grooming happy pets.

  13. Serena,
    It is wonderful what you do for the non-profit shelter. I have thought about doing the same, but I am so afraid that I could easily become a hoarder. I would want to keep most of those neglected pets. I understand what you mean about crying. Now, I just get mad FOR the dog. Helping a dog feel better is one of the reasons that I groom.
    I have to tell you that I was eating my lunch at the computer when I read your description of the smell. It took me a minute to swallow my food. lol
    You are right. A perfect day of grooming is when every dog that comes in is a regular and actually enjoys the grooming.
    Lisa, MFF

  14. ....I feel like a pet hoarder....
    I rescued a litter of 8 week old puppies 5 years ago just after I married my wonderful husband, they were scheduled to be destroyed. So of coarse I took them ALL... each puppy from the same mother had a different father. One was a perfect basset, another a perfect lab, another was some kind of shar pei, and the littlest one looked like a rottweiller. They all got homes but the one that looked like a rott, she was solid black with a few tan spots. She of coarse became mine and slowly changed colors and shape, she grew to 30lbs and now looks like a perfect black and tan beagle... with lots of tan, her name is Roxy and we love her with all of our hearts. She is the best friend to my 2 toddlers, even though she constantly makes noise. I've never met a louder beagle! We also took in a pomeranian from a puppy mill a year later. We swore up and down that we were done 'keeping' pets, even though we constantly rescue and adopt out pets from our shop. We now have a 3lb peekingese chihuahua mix, a 15lb purebred schnauzer (his 48yr old mother accidentally became pregnant and she dropped him off in our store with a sob story... what would you do? :( And last month my mother's neighbors moved away and left their 12lb poodle in her yard, she was badly matted and dying from heart worms... after an arm and a leg she is doing much better now. We have 5 dogs and one shop cat... we both agree this is it, but we're serious suckers. Did I forget to mention that in my front yard 3 black labs attacked a tiny rat terrier female and took her, that was less than a week ago and she's already showing :( we have her an appt at the vet to be spayed and get a rabies shot, they cut us a serious deal because we do so much for the local shelters. $47.50 after tax with the spay and the shot... I almost cried when they told me that number, I feel like I should bring them cookies, a cake or something. We really do go the extra mile and bend over backwards for people, but this is the first time that anyone has honestly done something of meaning for me, it means more to us than they will ever know. Every other vet I called said either A. I had to wait a few weeks for their soonest appt. B. Because she is prego there would be an extra fee and the total would be at least $200-250. Money isn't everything, but I'd like to be able to afford my rescues, I hate to ask for an adoption fee more than $20. We live in a low income area, if the adoption fee is more than that people will usually ask if I know of any free pets. I usually scold them lightly and let them know that if they cannot afford a mere $20 then how will they get the pet shots, fixed, food, etc. It just doesn't make sense for someone without ANY disposable income to adopt a pet, that is why I get my crazies that come once a year, complain about a full groom on a small pet being $30 and still want me to fully demat their sweet little mess for no extra charge. It's hard, I often give in and waive the mat fee and beg them to keep an appt for 6 weeks from now for just a simple clean up. They never do :(
    ...by the way I have to warn you, like you don't already know. My fingers type as fast as I think from years of internet abuse :) so I tend to ramble on a lot, I apologize for it but there's just no stopping me once I have a thought. Sorry :\
    ~Serena Bel-Hebert

  15. Hi Serena,
    I remember when I had 3 dogs and said no more. :) Then I had 5...no more. At the moment there are 11 in the house. They are not all mine. The Pom is my youngest sons. The Beagle literally walked into our shop one day and has permanently attached himself to my oldest son. My daughter has 3 Bichons. I have 5.
    I am glad that the Vet helped you out. I wish that more Vets would help people out. I think that all of the rescue work you do is wonderful!
    Lisa, MFF