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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Old Dogs

I groom a lot of old dogs.
Most of them I have been grooming for years.
Some I have started grooming because their regular groomers will no longer groom them because of their age or the way they act now.

It's funny how my hard to handle dogs seem to mellow with age, and the dogs that were great to groom in their younger years become nasty as they get older.
Believe me , there are times when I would like to turn away some of these old guys, because some of them are just down right scary to groom.
I make sure that their owners understand that I will only do what the dog will allow.
If he/she is having a bad day and I don't think they can get through a grooming, they will go home and we will try another time.

Below are just a few of the elderly dogs that I groom.


I have been grooming this little girl for about 15 years.

She has always gotten a clipdown #4f, with a short round face.
I used to be able to have her bathed, dried and clipped in about 50 minutes.
She takes about an hour and a half now to groom.

The bath must be very warm or she gets upset in the tub.
She can know longer handle the HV drier, even at low speed, and must be dried with a small hand drier.
I can still use the #4f blade on her body,but she is so bony now that I end up doing a lot of scissoring to even her out.
The legs are scissored down to a #4f length because she can't stand the clipper on her legs.






This little lady is now around 13 years old.
She is still very sweet and good about her grooming, but has become very nervous.
If she gets too worked up because of other dogs barking she will start having seizures.

She can know longer be HV dried, and must be dried by hand.


This little guy is one of my most challenging grooms.
I have been grooming him for 16 years.
He can no longer see and hear.

He used to stand great on the table.
Now that he is blind, he wants to walk all over the table.

No. I don't use grooming loops.
Even with a loop, this dog would try to walk off the end of the table.
My husband stands in  front of him while I groom him.
He no longer wants his face shaved.
I do the best I can without forcing it.



 The hardest part of grooming him now is the scissor work.

He likes to bark the entire time he is being groomed.
When he barks, he bounces.
Try scissoring nice, round pom poms when a dog is bouncing up and down.

Can you say 'Swiss cheese pom poms?'


I groomed this guy just the other day.

I have been grooming him for 17 years.
He was always good to groom.

Now he is deaf and blind.
Once again, a blind dog that can not stand still.
He can not stand to have his face held in anyway.
This makes scissoring it a challenge.
His owners are very understanding about sticky outies.
They understand that I do the best I can.



I took some video of me trying to scissor his face the last time he was in.


He likes to bat my hand away with his feet.
His groom doesn't always look the best, but he goes home feeling happy and clean.

I'll be honest.
There have been times when I thought about no longer grooming elderly dogs, but I just couldn't imagine turning them away when they get old.

As long as their owners understand the dangers of grooming an elderly pet, I will groom their dog.
Their owners also have to leave it up to me what is the best cut for their dog.

I had one customer years ago that had a toy poodle that I had groomed for years.
Her Mom liked a Lamb clip on her, a #4f on the body and the legs scissored very full.
As the poodle got older it was harder and harder for her to stand while having her legs scissored.
I would let her sit a lot, but it was obvious that the scissoring was too much.
After one of her groomings, I told her owner that they should think about having her legs clipped shorter so she would not have to stand so long.
The owner said she would think about it.

The next time the dog came in, every 4 weeks like clock work, I asked the owner if she tought about what I had suggested the last time.
"Yes, we gave her an aspirin, so continue doing the same cut, she will be fine," the owner answered.
Grrrr.

Vanity, isn't it a wonderful thing?

I am tougher with owners now.
I lay it on thick about the dogs age, and how the grooming can effect them.
So if you have the patience to work on the elderly dogs, more power to you.
They need someone who understands them, and will take the time to work with them.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Difficult Dogs

People tell me I am weird because I like to groom difficult dogs.
I don't know what to say to that except...

Yep, I guess I am weird.  :-)

I love the challenge.
I love working with the dog.
I love trying to figure out what it is that bothers the dog.
I love finding ways to work with the dog.
I love showing the dog that grooming can be a pleasant thing.
I love giving the dog a chance.

I am proud to say that I rarely have to turn a dog away.
Some of my most difficult dogs have turned into wonderful grooms.
Some have always stayed biters, but rarely bite me anymore because I respect them and they know that I will not hurt them. (they will bite me if I do :/ )

I try to only groom one difficult dog in a day.

Don't ask me what happened, but for some reason, I had 3 difficult dogs today...and one was a new customer.


Don't let this cute face fool you.
This little girl is a spoiled brat.
I can say that because her Mom and Dad call her that too.  :)

She can be sweet one second, but you even tug on a little natty mat, ( you know the kind, that little teeny, tiny knot that the brush just glides over and you have to pick out with your fingers) she will try to eat you alive.

Boy, can she sound like Cujo when she wants to.



This little guy belongs to one of my long time customers.
His Dad has been coming to me since a year after I started grooming.

He just rescued this guy about 5 months ago.
I have groomed him 4 times.
The rescue did not tell him that the dog was a biter.

I almost lost both of my hands the first time that I groomed him.
Yes, he broke skin.




He is getting better with each groom.
He only got mad at me twice today.
The first time was my fault...I forgot he does not like his body rubbed with the towel.
The second time...no reason, he just felt like it, but it was only a quick nibble.
I think he just wanted to remind me that he still could bite me.



This guy is a rescue.
He is deaf and partially blind.

His Mom called us because her Vet told her to bring him to us, because they wouldn't do him anymore.

He is around 2-3 years old.
After talking to this dogs Mom on the phone, I really was not sure I would be able to groom this dog.

Other grooming shops had sent the dog home, and the Vet didn't want to groom him anymore.



He was pretty dirty and matted.
His Mom told me that when he goes to the Vet's, the Vet tech puts his whole body on the dog while the Vet tries to work on him.

WHAT!?
I was so upset when I heard this.
Of course he is biting and fighting.
He was fine when I took him from the owner.
He was fine as I held him, and rubbed him while talking to his Mom.

He went straight into the tub.



He was great in the tub.
I had to talk a lot while rinsing his face.
Once he realized I wasn't going to get water in his nose, he let me finish rinsing his face without anymore fuss.

I kept waiting for this dog to go off.

His Mom told me that every time she gave him a bath, she came out bleeding.
???

He did great with the drier also.
He was not crazy about it around his face, but he let me dry it.





Still waiting...there must be a trigger somewhere.

He stood there great for the clipping.

He did not like the clipper going down his matted front legs, but he did not bite, and did not fuss too badly.




He like hanging over my backboard.

That was okay with me.

It kept him happy.

He was great about clipping his nails.

Still waiting...




He did fuss a little for his face.
He does not like it brushed or combed.

He didn't fuss anymore then some other dogs I groom.
He did not try to bite at all.

Tell me again why this dog has been thrown out of grooming shops.

I don't get it.





The owners walked in for him ten minutes early, while I was talking him through getting his face scissored.
So, once again I forgot to get a after picture.  :(

Below is a short video of him being clipped.



video

I told his owners that they need to bring him every 6-8 weeks so that he can get used to the grooming.
They made another appointment.
We will see if they keep it.

I told them to find another Vet also.
Hope I don't get in trouble for that.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dematting a Scottie

It used to be that I would demat everything.
I thought I had to.
And..
I had no backbone when I started grooming.
If a pets owner did not want their dog clipped short, I would spend forever trying to demat it.
Sometimes I would actually stand there crying because I did not know if I could get all of the mats out without clipping.
I found all kinds of ways of dematting, or hiding areas that I did have to clip.

I don't do a lot of dematting anymore.
Believe it or not, I did eventually find a backbone.
It only took about 10 years, but I found it.  :)

When I demat now it is usually because I want to save the ears, or the tail, or because I don't want the dogs legs to look like toothpicks.
Then there are those certain customers.
The ones that, for some unknown reason, you keep dematting their dogs even when you shouldn't.

I had two in today.
They are two Scottie's, one cream, one black.
We have been grooming them for years.
They used to come in in fairly good shape, a little matting here and there but no big deal.
Over the years, they started coming in in worse shape with the owners always begging us not to shave them.
The dogs are now older and they have arthritis.
They hate being brushed out.

I know, I know, we should shave them down.
I can't tell you how much my daughter wants to shave them down to teach the owners a lesson.
It would be a lesson lost on these people.
I would bet anything that there would be a major blowout in my lobby too.
Sometimes it is just easier to demat then deal with a clueless owner.
That is the way I feel.

My daughter does not agree.
Oh, to be young again.

I guess some groomers would say that it is cruel of me to demat these dogs.
But remember, I have a lot of tricks up my sleeves from years of dematting.
Tricks that make it easier on the dog and the groomer.
I used a few of them today.

Both of the Scottie's have  very thin, fine coats.
I don't know what happened, but they both missed out on the terrier hair.

Their owners like their backs clipped with a #7f blade. 
They also like the skirt and legs left very full and very long.
They like the hula skirt look.  :(



Today they had to compromise.

They had not been groomed in 4 months because of a missed appointment.
If they wanted us to save the coat, I had to shorten it.
At least they would not be shaved.
Take it or leave it.

They took it.


They where both bathed in Best Shot Shampoo and Cream Rinse.

We loosened the matts with the HV drier as much as we could.

After that we scissored half of the coat off before we did any brushing.
Once half of the coat was gone, the mats brushed out fairly easily.
Large, stubborn mats were scissored out.



The belly, and inside of the front and back legs were clipped with a #5f blade.


Here is a link to the video of me dematting this dog.

 
If you pull on this dog too much, he will bite, and fuss up a storm.
He did great with this technique of dematting today.
No fussing and biting.
The only thing he did do, was try to get to my husband while he was videoing.
My husband is the one who takes most of the dogs out to their owners.
This guy thought that if he could just get to my husband he would go home.









 Here is the after picture of the front legs.








Here is a after picture of the back legs.



 This is the finished picture.

Please don't look too long, I am not proud of it.

That is not the way a Scottie should look.

But, the owner was happy the dogs were not shaved, and they still had their hula skirt.  :/



Another day, another penny.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oops

To anyone who tried to watch the video from yesterdays blog, it is now public and should allow you to view it .
Sorry, my mistake, that is what happens when I try to do something after 11pm.
I will be posting again later tonight......I hope.  :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday's Tip #15 Face Holds

**Note: I wrote this blog entry last night when I realized that I had forgotten it was Tuesday's Tip day. I wanted to add a video. It did not work, the file was too large.
I decided to upload the video to my You Tube account. First I had to figure out how to do that. Instead of rewriting this entry I am going to post it as is. That is why it will sound like my days are mixed up.  :-)

When you get down to the part on this entry where the video was supposed to be, I have put the link to the You Tube video. Click on it to see my first video.
I hope it works.


It's Tuesday...I forgot!
I already posted once today.
I am getting old.
Can't even remember what day it is.  :-)

No, I think the real reason I forgot is because I have a new toy on the computer.
Windows Live Movie Maker.
It is a free download.
It is great for people who don't know what they are doing.

I am getting ready to install security cameras to video tape while we groom everyday.
Long story.
I will be blogging about it soon.

In the mean time, I have been playing around with taking short videos of my grooming with my camera.
I have only taken a couple.

One video was of a furry customer of mine that is now 17 years old, almost 18.
I have been grooming him his whole life.
I will be writing a blog on grooming old dogs soon and will show that video.
Scissoring his face has become quite a challenge in the last year or so.

The other video is one that I am going to try to post here tonight.
I don't know if it will work, this will be my first time posting a video.

Today's tip is simply about the different holds I use to scissor a face.
I was a little surprised at how many ways I hold the face to scissor it.
I am always trying to find ways of grooming that will make it easy on me and the dog.






The Chin Hold:
Holding only the hair under the chin.

I once had a groomer that would try to hold on to the skin under the chin, and then wondered why the dog got upset.  :-/




The Cup Hold:
Making a V with your fingers,two fingers on one side of the neck, and three on the other.
Slide your hand under the dogs chin, putting your fingers on either side of the dogs neck.
Let the dog rest their chin in the palm of your hand.

This hold works great with some Shih-Tzu's that hate having their chin hair held.


The Over the Head Hold:
This hold helps you to see what you are doing while scissoring the side of the face.

 I do not hold the face tightly.
It is a very gentle hold.
I only apply pressure if the dog starts moving.
As soon as they stop moving, I release the pressure.
Not too much pressure.
Just enough for them to learn that you don't want them to move.
Praise, praise, praise.

Most dogs learn very fast.
Some never do.






Over the Head Hold II:
Same hold as above, only holding the face more in the front.

*Note:
Always make sure that you are not blocking the nose.






Over the Head Hold III:
For dogs with longer beards.
Same hold as above, only now you are pressing the two sides of the beard together to cut evenly under the chin.

*Note:
Always be aware of where the tip of your scissors will close.







The Claw:
Another hold to scissor the opposite side of the face.







The Neck Hold:
My fingers are wrapped around the back of the neck, and my thumb is under his chin.





The Neck Hold II:
Once again my fingers are in a V shape.
The first two fingers behind the ear, and the other two finger in front of the neck.

This not really a hold.
It is just a way to lift the head so I can see if the beard is even without touching the face.






Ta-Da.
All done.

The names of those holds are just made up by me.
Goofy right?  :-)

You should hold a dogs face in whatever way is comfortable for you and the dog.






Below is a video of a dog that I groomed last week that is not crazy about having her face scissored.
I hope it loads.
I hope it is not too long.
I hope it does not bore you to death.






I was thinking of putting some of my grooming videos on my website so that my customers could watch some groomings.
I am still not sure.
Owners see things differently then other groomers do.
Owners may not like the way we have to hold a dogs face to scissor it safely.

I would love to know what other groomers think.
Should I put the video on my website?

I hope some of the holds help you.

I really hope you enjoyed the video.  :-)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Excuses...Excuses

I could have written a book by now if I had kept a record of all of the excuses customers have given me over the years for their dogs being matted.

Some I have heard were...
* He went out in the rain and got wet.
* I lost his brush.
* He chewed up his brush.
* He doesn't like the brush.
* The kids didn't brush him.
* He didn't have any mats last week.
* We went on vacation and no one brushed him.
* I got a new job and have not had time to brush him.
* He walked under our car and got matted.
* The new puppy chewed on him and matted his hair.
* He likes to roll on the floor and get his hair all knotty.
* He's matted? I have to brush him?
* What is a mat?
* He's not matted!

The list could go on and on.
There is one excuse that I have always hated to hear, and have had to learn over the years to just let it go and ignore it.

What is the excuse?
I bet some groomers can guess.
I am sure that some of you have heard it more then once.

Okay, okay I'll say it.

"He's matted because I had to wait for this appointment."

I have heard this excuse more times then I can count.
It does not matter if the customer had to wait a week for the appointment or a month or more, it is apparently my fault.

I had one in on Saturday.
This customer had used our Self-Serve before to bathe her Bichon.
After I clipped her dogs nails and she saw the pictures of my grooms on the wall, she wanted to make an appointment with us.
That was back in the beginning of December.
We were able to fit her in early in December.
You know, those couple of weeks after Thanksgiving and before the Christmas rush.
She called a few days later wanting closer to Christmas.

Out of the question for a new customer.
The two weeks before Christmas had been booked for over a year by my regulars.

"Can you call me if there is a cancellation?" she said.
"We can, but there is already a waiting list, and I rarely get a cancellation at Christmas time." we explained to her.
"Okay, call me as close to Christmas as possible," she finished.

Needless to say, there were no cancellations, and she did not get a call before Christmas.
She made another appointment after the Holidays, but did not keep that because it was not a Saturday.
She had to wait till this past week for a Saturday appointment.
I could tell as soon as she walked in the door that she had not had her dog groomed since using our Self-Serve.
November till February...way too long for a Cock-a-Poo. 

As I picked the dog up, I could tell just how matted it was.
I put her dog on my counter.
"How do you want her groomed? She is matted." I informed her.
"I know. I usually get her groomed on a regular schedule but, I had to wait since November to get in here, that's why she is matted," she told me.
"Do what you have to. I know she will be short," she finished.


I just don't understand people.
There are at least 5 other grooming salons within a ten mile radius of my shop.
Why let your dog get so matted?

I understand that you would like to start coming to my shop, but take your pet somewhere else while your waiting for the appointment with me.

She could have taken her dog to another groomer at the end of December or the beginning of January and still kept this appointment.







I was able to HV the mats away from the skin enough the get a #4f blade through the coat.



 It is sad to me that an owner will let their dog get this matted, and then use me as an excuse for why the dog is in this condition.

During the busy times, when we are booking 3-4 months out, we make a point of telling people to get their dog groomed somewhere else if their dog needs it before the appointment they scheduled with me. 



  The Groom

Body & Legs: #4f blade
Head: Dematt and scissor round.
Face: scissor round face, short around the mouth but not too short. (owners instructions)

The owner really liked her dog, and was pleasantly surprised that her dog was not shorter.


She made an appointment for 6 weeks from now. I hope she keeps it.
No more blaming me for the matting.  :-)



Happy Grooming, MFF