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, January 30, 2012

Neat Round Feet

Last week I had someone ask me how I got the feet on my dogs so neat and round.

This is one of the things that I used to obsess about when I first started grooming.
I hate pointy looking feet.
I like the feet to look nice and round on every dog, even clipdowns.
I don't like the toes to show.

Of course it is not always possible to do this, especially if you have a matted dog with a lot of mats between the toes.
Those feet tend to look like a modified poodle foot when you are done.

Anyway, this is how I get most of my feet neat and round.

No matter what blade I am using on the body, I don't use full pressure on the top of the foot when clipping.

As I clip down the leg, I let up on my pressure just above the ankle joint and skim off of the top of the foot.

How much pressure I use, and how much hair I leave on the top of the foot depends on the thickness of the hair on the feet, and of course, the length of the over all clip.

I want to leave enough hair on the foot to be able to sculpt a round foot even if the dogs foot is naturally pointy.

I start out shaping the foot by clipping the pads out with a #30 blade.

I try to make sure only to clip the area right around the edges of the pads.

Next, I comb all of the hair straight down, so that the long hair hangs over the pads and toenails.

I comb several times to make sure that I get all of those long stray hairs that seem to try to cling to the toes so that when you think you are done, or you are about to hand the dog over to the owner, you look down, and low and behold there is one lone piece of long hair sticking out from between a couple of toes.


That just drives me crazy.

Now I scissor off all of the long hair around the outside of the foot, being careful to shape the foot round.

At the same time I am also angling the scissors to make a bevel.

Be careful not to cut off too much when you are scissoring the sides and front of the underside of the foot.

The bottom of the foot will look something likes this after you scissor the bottoms of the feet.

Note the top of the foot is still pretty furry.

 Next, I work on the front of the foot.

I comb the hair down again, towards the sides and the toes.

Then I round up the foot from the front.

Right now I am only concentrating on scissoring and shaping the outside edges of the foot.

Lastly, I take my brush and brush up all of the hair around and on top of the foot.

Then I give the foot a tiny shake so that the hair will fall naturally.

Time for the sculpting and shaping of the top of the foot.

I don't know how else  to describe what I am doing, except to say that it is like scissoring a tiny topknot.

I want the foot to have a round appearance on top of the foot as well as around the front of the foot.

Now is the true test, to see if the foot will look round once the dog puts it down.

Every once and awhile you will have a foot that looks really nice while you are holding it up, but as soon as it touches the table and the toes spread, there goes your nice round foot.

Luckily, on this guy, his foot stayed round after he sat it on the ground.

I like to scissor the feet first and then scissor the legs to match and blend into the feet.

 Sometimes I need to go back and shape up the feet a little more once the foot is resting on the table.

I leave the foot down on the table, because sometimes what you see that needs to be scissored, will disappear when you pick the foot up again.

I am sure that reading this makes it sound like it takes me forever to scissor a foot, but it doesn't.

The way that I scissor my feet is such a routine for me, that it doesn't take me much time at all to go through all of these steps.

On some dogs I will use my clippers and skim to do a lot of the work.

This is the way that I get nice, neat round feet.

This is what works for me.

Another groomer may scissor a different way.

As you can see by this picture, this guy has been licking his feet so much that he did not have a lot of hair left on his front toes, so I was not able to get the front feet as round as I would like them.

If only every dog had perfectly round, tight feet.

It would make scissoring them so much easier. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, January 26, 2012


You're traveling to another dimension....

You're next stop is.... 

Picture a quite little family owned grooming shop on the East coast of the United States.

 Thursday, January 19, 2012.

Phone rings...it's @9am.

MFF:  "My Furry Friends, can I help you?"
Ms.M: "Hi, this is Ms.M. I have an appointment today at 1pm, but I am sick and not sure if I can make it."
MFF: "That's okay. Did you want to reschedule?"
Ms M: "I really want to get her in."
MFF: "Well, your appointment is not until 1 pm. Would you like to wait a little while and see if you feel better?  You can give me a call back if you can't make it in and we will reschedule for you."
Ms. M: "Okay. I'll do that. Thank you."

Noon, same day.

Ms. M: "Hi, this is Ms.M again. I am not feeling any better. Can I reschedule the appointment?"
MFF: "Sure. We don't have anything until next Thursday at 10am. Would you like to take that?"
Ms. M:  "Yes, thank you. I'll see you next Thursday at 10 am, and I  am sorry about today. I really want to bring my dog to your shop."
MFF:  "No problem. You can't help it if you are sick. We will see you next week."

Fast forward to today.

The new customer that rescheduled from last Thursday to today, is a no show.

Phone rings.

MFF: "My Furry Friends. Can I help you?"
Ms. M: "Hi, it's Ms. M. I am on my way. I will be there in a few minutes."
MFF: "Well ma'am, your appointment was alomst an hour ago."
Ms. M: "No it wasn't. It was for 10am."
MFF: "Yes ma'am, but it's now 10:50, but I'll see if the groomers can still take yo........"
Ms. M: YOU'RE WRONG!! I am looking at my clock and it is 10 of 10.
MFF: "No ma'am, my clock says that it is 10 of 11."
Ms. M: "I don't know what clock you are looking at, but MY clock says that it is 10 of 10!! YOU ARE WRONG! " I guess we are not going to be able to do business together!"
MFF:  " I am not saying that ma'am. I am trying to tell you that you have the time wr......"
Ms. M:  *CLICK*

Phone rings.

Ms. M: " I just wanted to let you know that your clocks are wrong! I am sitting in a bank looking right at the three different clocks and they all say 5 of 10. I think that there is some other reason that you don't want to groom my dog."
MFF: "Why would I do that ma'am? I rescheduled your appointment from last week because you said that you were sick...."
Ms. M:" I WAS SICK!!"
MFF: "I didn't say that you weren't, but if I didn't want to groom your dog, why would I have given you another appointment? Why would I want to lose your business?"
Ms. M: "You're going to lose more than just my business now. Word of mouth gets around fast!"
MFF: " Well ma'am, I hope that later today when you realize that you are running an hour behind that...."
Ms. M:  *CLICK*

You have just visited the Twilight Zone.


Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Vet Vent

I am sorry, I can't help it.
I have to vent a little about some things that Vets have been doing lately.

First, a few weeks ago I have a Self-Serve customer come in with her 11 year old Lab.
After she finished bathing her dog I went back to the Self-Serve to clip her dogs nails.
As I approached the owner and her dog, the owner had a concerned look on her face.

"Are you sure you can do his nails?" she asked me.
"Why, does he not like to have his nails clipped?" I asked her.
"Oh no, he is very good about it, but I was at the Vets yesterday and she told me that any dog over 10 years old should not have their nails clipped." the owner informed me.


I really hope that I didn't stand there with my mouth hanging open...I don't think that I did.

Now, I am usually very, very good about not talking against any Vet, but this time I did not hesitate.
I told the customer that that was the silliest thing that I had ever heard.
I told her that older dogs, more than any other, needed their nails clipped often.
This Labs nails were already starting to bend sideways.
Really, how can a Vet look at that and let the dog walk out of their office without clipping the nails.
I clipped the Labs nails and he was great about it.

Second: Today, I had a regular customer call to cancel her two dogs for tomorrow.
Because, her Vet quarantined her dogs for 6 weeks because they have fleas.

You read that right.
Because of fleas!

Her Vet told her that Frontline no longer works...I agree with that.
She told my customer that she was going to put the dogs on Revolution every two weeks, for 6 weeks.
She told her not to worry about bombing her house.
She also told her not to take her dogs to the groomer, because they would give my shop fleas.

Now, has something changed in the last few years that I don't know about?
I thought for sure that one of my jobs was to help pet owners get rid of fleas.
Believe me, I am not crazy about a dog coming in with fleas, but if an owner gives me a heads-up about them I can be prepared and take evasive action.

I had my husband call the customer back and tell her that I didn't agree with the Vet, and that I had no problem helping her with her flea problem.
He told her that she needed to get the dogs out of the house and bomb, vacuum and clean the house before she brought them back after grooming and then proceed with the Revolution.
Now I am wondering if her Vet told her that Revolution is also for heartworm, and are her dogs already taking a heartworm preventative?

Third: A couple of weeks ago my husband came into the grooming room and told me that he had someone on the phone with a Yorkie that was a year old and had never been groomed.
He also said the the dog was not socialized and would probably bite.
The man on the phone said that his Vet told him to tranquilize the dog before bring him to a groomer.
My husband wanted to know if I would groom the dog.

Yes, I will always try.
No, not if he is tranquilized.
I refuse to groom tranquilized dogs.
I don't care how mean they are.

I did that during my second year of grooming.
Only the Vet/Kennel that I worked at didn't give a mild tranquilizer, they knocked the dogs out entirely.

If I wanted to groom dogs that lay on my table like they were dead, I would have become a Taxidermist.


That dog came in today at noon.

About 11:35 I heard the door bell ring.
Next, it sounded like a large Shepard had come in for the Self-Serve.
We have a few loud Shepard's that come in for the Self-Serve and bark and bark and bark the entire time their owners give them a bath. 

I am afraid that I can't help but chuckle when those owners come in with their dogs.
My sarcastic side wants to go out into the Self-Serve and ask them if they are having fun playing with their dogs. ;)

Anyway, the noisy dog was not one of the Shepard's, it was the Yorkie.
Yes, that guy has the bark of a Shepard.

My husband came back and told me that the Yorkie was here.
The dog was still barking.
"That is the Yorkie making all of that noise," I asked my husband.
"Yep, that's him," he said. "He looks like he wants to eat somebody."

Oh, did I mention that on top of the fact that this dog is a year old and never been groomed....he is also a fully in-tacked male.


So, I walked out of the grooming room door, and the dog charged the gate at me.

"Hi, Romeo!, How are you doing buddy?, Where did Daddy bring you?" I said in my sweetest, soothing voice, as I opened the gate and walked towards the Shepard in a Yorkie mixes body.
I always ignore the owner and greet the dog first, before I start talking to the owner.

I took the leash from the owner, while holding the dog that was so desperately trying to get at me, away from me.
I turned the dogs head away from me and reached down to pick him up.
Boy,he was tense.
He was defiantly not sure about me.

I continued to talk to him like he was my best little buddy.
I got him into my counter and turned him to face me.
I started rubbing his face and telling him that everything was going to be okay.
I could feel him relaxing.
I started talking to the owner while still rubbing his dog.
By the time I finished talking to the owner, Romeo wiggling his stub and kissing my hands.

I could tell that he was still a little tense when I carried him back to my table.

I had told the owner that I would have to move slowly and groom at a pace that would help this dog accept the grooming.

This guy was all over the place.

There was no taking your hands off of him.

I put him on my table and started rubbing him all over.

I rubbed his ears.

I picked up his feet and rubbed them.

I didn't stop rubbing an area until he settled down and didn't mind me rubbing anymore.

Is it just me or doesn't he look a little like the dog on my Self-Serve business cards and reminder cards?

He didn't seem to have any 'hot areas' that he didn't want me to touch.

He was very curious about everything, but not the least bit mean.

Time for the bath.

He got a little freaked out when I put him in the tub, but I turned the water on, away from him, and let him check it out.

I told him everything that I was about to do.

Yes, I think it helps.

I put the sprayer right up against his body so that the water would not make any noise and scare him.

I moved from the back of his body, slowly to the front.

I have found that dogs new to being bathed, accept the sprayer faster if you keep the sprayer right up against the skin so that they don't hear the spray of the water coming close to their head.

I was very happy when he accepted the water on his face without much fuss.

Letting him hang onto my arm seemed to help him too.

He was very good about letting me soap up his body too.

It took a few minutes to get him to trust me enough to hold his face.

Most of his bath was done on two legs.  :)

I thought that we might have a problem when I found that his bum was caked with dried poop.

He did whip around to check what I was doing, but once I let him check things out and told him that I was just going to get 'that nasty old poop off your bum', he stood still and let me do what I needed to do.

He even trusted me enough to stand there and let me cut away some of the poop with my trusty tub scissors.

He had a good time rubbing all over the towel after the bath.

He earned it.

He even accepted the HV dryer without too much fuss.

Of course, he was most comfortable standing and holding on to me.

He let me dry everything with the HV.

Even his head and ears.

 I turned my clippers on without the blade, and put it against his body to see how he would react to the clippers.

As you can see, he was great.

Then I put the blade on, and he still had no problem with the vibration of the blade.

Okay, where did that crazy dog in the lobby go?

He let me clip out the corner of his eyes.

He let me clip his belly.

Even around his scrotum.

And, he let me clip his nails and pluck his ears without any fuss at all.

Can you tell that I am really liking this little guy?

How many groomers would have turned him away just by the way he was acting in the lobby?

He was a leaner, but he let me scissor him.

I clipped him with a 5/8HT blade and followed up with the scissors.

Look at that face.

One thing that I did discover while grooming him was, that I could not praise him throughout the grooming, because every time I told him he was a good boy, he took that as an invitation to jump up into my arms.

If I kept my mouth shut, he stayed really good on my table.

So, right after I took this picture I started rubbing him and told him that he was a very good boy.

He kissed me and jumped up into my arms.  :)

We gave the very happy owner back the tranquilizer pills that he handed me when he brought the dog in.

He was sure that I was going to have to use them.

I told him he could throw them away.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF