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, February 29, 2012

Jessica's Day

My daughter had seven dogs booked on her today.

The Standard Poodle below was her first appointment of the day. 

We have groomed her before.

I own one of her siblings.

The last time Jess groomed her was a year and a half ago.

That was the last time that she was groomed.

I have no idea why her owner waits so long in between groomings.

She is a beautiful dog.

She has a great coat, just like her sister.

This is her sister.

She belongs to me.

Why would you own a Standard Poodle only to let it get in the shape of the one above?

The Standard was matted all over.

The owner had been bathing her, so at least she wasn't stinky and dirty.

The mats where not close to her skin, so Jessica decided to bathe her before clipping her.

She also decided not to wet clip her.

She has the type of hair that actually dries fairly quickly with the HV.

 Jess was able to get a #4F blade through her coat pretty easily.

Her coat came out looking like crushed velvet.

 Look how pretty she looks.

I am sure that she feels much, much better.

If she were mine, I would not be able to keep my hands off of her tonight.

I would be petting and feeling her velvety fur all night.

Jessica got the Standard finished, and all of her other dogs by 3pm.

She did a great job, and I am showing off her work.  :)

I am very proud of my daughter.

I don't tell her that enough.

I am proud of you Jess, you do a great job everyday!!

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Question

Why do owners grab a chunk of hair in the middle of the head and cut when they want the hair shorter over the eyes?

Why do they cut a big hole smack-dab in the middle of the head?

How do they expect me to fix it?

Okay....so that was three questions.

This little lady came in the other day.

Her Mom had chopped a hole out in the middle of her topknot.

I guess she wanted to get her point across that she wanted the topknot shorter over the eyes.

 It actually looks a little better after the bath and blow dry, but there is still a deep hole right smack-dab in the middle.

I always take my topknots short over the eyes.

I learned very early in my grooming career that the hair growing out over the eyes is what a lot of  customers complain the most about.

They just don't seem to realize that know matter how short I take the hair over the eyes, it is going to grow back out (over the eyes) before the next grooming.

Here I scissored the topknot like I normally would.
The hole still showed too much.

So, I took the topknot shorter than usual.

The hole was still there, but not as noticeable.

I wish that they would just wait until they came in with the dog.
I will take it shorter over the eyes if you tell me to.
Really I will!
Just ask. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Monday, February 27, 2012

I am so Tired

...of having to justify my prices and my price increases.

We raised our prices at the beginning of this year.
It is the first time in a little over 2 years.
I did not raise them last year because of the economy and trying to help my customers out.

I had to raise them this year.
No one gave me a break on my bills last year.
My rent went up.
The price of shampoos have been creeping up.
I don't even want to talk about the electric bill.

I increased my prices by $1 to $2 on small to medium size dogs.
Three dollars on medium/large dogs.
Five dollars on large dogs.
Most of my long time large dogs are very under priced.
(I've gotten better with the new large dog customers.)

With every price increase we seem to have a few people fuss about it, that's normal.

But, this time it has been constant fussing.
They are not nice comments either.

I know that it is hard on a lot of people out there, but I am not rolling in dough.
It costs me over a hundred dollars every week for gas, because of the 40 mile round trip to work everyday.
Gas only cost a dollar something 14 years ago when we moved so far from the shop.
I have kept my shop where I am now for my customers.
I really care about the dogs that I groom.
They are my guys, I know them.
If I moved my shop closer to home, those dogs would have to go to someone who doesn't know all of their little quirks.

I know, I am not talking like a business woman.
Grooming is very personal for me.
Not a good thing when you are trying to run a business.

I know that some of my customers would pay any price to stay with me, because they know I really care about their dogs.

That sounded conceded didn't it?

I didn't say it to be conceded.
I just mean that they know that their dogs are in good hands when they are with us, and they appreciate it.

 Then there are the customers that wouldn't think twice about finding someone else to groom their dog if the cost was cheaper.

That is still not coming out right.
I can't seem to explain it right.

How is it that a pet owner thinks nothing of sinking 25 dollars on a collar, 60 dollars on a dog bed, 30 dollars on a fancy corduroy winter coat, and 30 to 50 dollars a week on a quality dog food, but around 40 dollars every 4 to 8 weeks, to keep their dogs clean and healthy, seems to be highway robbery.

The hair dresser takes one look at my long, thick hair and wants 35 to 40 dollars just to cut my head.
I don't give her a hard time.
I even tip 5 to 10 dollars.

One of my worst complainers last week was an owner of a Bichon that we groom every 5 months.
She not only complained about the 2 dollar increase, but argued that she was paying 40 last year instead of the 43 she was actually paying.
5 months.
Her dog averages about 2 grooms a year, and is a mess when it comes in, requiring more work.

Come on people!
We groomers did not tell you to buy high maintenance dogs.
It is not our fault that a lot of dogs require regular grooming.
It is not our fault when a dog is matted.
Give us a break.

We brush your dog.
We bathe it.
We hand fluff dry it.
We clean ears.
We express anals.
We clip and file nails.
We clip and scissor the entire body, not just the head.

If a person was to go to their hairdresser and ask for a haircut (30 more if you want a blowdry), wax (15 just for lip and eyebrows), manicure (15),  and pedicure (25).
That along adds up to 80.
You have to go to the doctor to have your ears cleaned out. $$$
You have to go to a spa for a scented bath. $$$

Thankfully we don't have anal glands.  :/

I am sorry I seem to be ranting again.

I am not really.
I am just tired.

If you really want to hear me rant, ask me about pre-written checks.

I don't complain to the cashier at the food store every week when I see that the frozen french fries that I used to buy for $1.69 (store brand) are now $ 2.89.
I don't give the person at the gas station a hard time because $20 barley gives me a quarter tank of gas now.
(Although the local news  has had some reports about people attacking gas station workers because of rising gas prices.)

Actually, people have always complained about grooming prices, ever since I started grooming.
For 28 years I have had to listen to people fuss about the price of grooming their dog.
There seems to be a mentality out there that the price of a dogs grooming should stay the same for the lifetime of the dog.

I just want someone to explain to me why the pet industry is a billion dollar business, but groomers seem to be the low man on the totem poll.

Oh well, all of the complaining and snide comments have made me do something that I don't normally do.

I made a sign.

I don't have many signs in my shop.
It has been my experience that people do not read signs.
Even when they are right under their noses.

I made one anyway.

It is a temporary sign right now.
I will be designing a permanent one with Vistaprint.

I sent a letter out about the price increase back in October with my scheduling letter.
I have come to the conclusion that no one reads the letters either, or they like to pretend that they didn't read it.

Here is my temporary sign that will be going on my counter tomorrow.

Will this help?
Probably not.  :(
But I am going to try it anyway.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Would Like to Share...

...a website that I found the other night when I was surfing for creative grooming pictures.

The link will send you to the gallery, but I suggest you take some time to look at this groomers entire website.
There are also pictures of her lobby and grooming room.
I love looking at pictures of other groomers shops.  :)

Maybe it is just the shop owner in me, but I can't help it, the first thing that I think of when I look at her lobby is; "how many times do customers dogs pee on her rugs and furniture???"
It is an amazing looking lobby.

Her grooming room is also a 'cagefree' experience.
The dogs in the photo look great all sitting around so well behaved, and I don't mean to sound so skeptical, but I would bet money that those dogs belong to the groomer and or her employees.
I couldn't even imagine half of my customers dogs calmly laying around the grooming room waiting for their owners.
Also, there is always hair on the floor during the grooming.
I would not want my customers clean dogs walking through other dogs hair even if I only clip clean coats.

Okay, I'll say it, if you haven't guessed already, I don't agree with the 'cagefree' environment.

There are just too many potential problems with letting dogs run free in a grooming room.
The possibility of fighting.
The possibility of getting into something that they shouldn't.
The possibility of getting caught up in cords.
The possibility of bothering and upsetting dogs that are on the grooming table being groomed.
The possibility of shooting out of the grooming room door when someone comes or goes from the room.
Those are just a few things that I can think of.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that this groomer or any other should not have a 'cagefree' environment in their salon.
If it works for them, more power to them.
It is up to that groomer if they want to take on that responsibility.

One of my fears of owning my own business has always been the fear of a dog being injured and being sued.
I work very hard everyday to make sure that every dog in my care is as safe as I can possibly make it for them.
I don't see anything wrong with kenneling a dog for the short amount of time that they are with me.
I don't believe that it stresses them out.
They are placed on a comfortable towel, and most of them go to sleep while waiting to go home.

Anyway, I got off the topic of this post.
And, my mouse just broke. :(
It's not clicking right.
I am going to have to buy a new one. :(
This one wasn't cheap. :(
My cheap one never broke!

Have fun checking out her creative grooming pictures.
She is quite talented.

Oh, I guess you would like the link, right?
Here is the link.....Austingroomer.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, February 23, 2012

So Spoiled

I have talked before about how much I love HV drying dogs, and what a great tool it is for groomers.

I have also talked before about how stubborn I was to start using them.
I still kick myself for not trying them back around 1985, when I saw one of the first  HV dryers at Intergroom.

I vividly remember my reaction when that salesmen at the booth told me to put my hand in front of the hose he was holding.
I put my hand in front of that airflow and it jerked my hand back so forcefully that I my first thought was that there was no why in he** I was going to use that cruel thing on a dog.

It was loud, and all I could envision was, a little Yorkie sailing off the table and across the room as soon as the air hit the dog.
I mean, I was really against those dryers.

Sadly, I spent the next 13 years killing my wrists by hand drying with a stand dryer.

Thankfully my thinking changed after a grooming seminar where the speaker showed, in detail, how to use a HV dryer.
It also helped that two groomers sitting behind me were also singing the praises of the HV dryer.

I bought my first HV dryer at that very same grooming Expo in 1998.
I have been hooked ever since.

There have been a few dogs over the years that will not tolerate the HV dryer, even on a very low setting.
They have all been small to medium size dogs, so it has not really been a big deal to dry them by hand with a small hand dryer.

I don't do stand dryers.
Hate um!

Unfortunately, one of my worst fears have come true.

I have a Standard Poodle that we have been grooming for about 10 years.
He is now 13 years old and very unsteady on his feet.
Late last year he suddenly freaked out while being HV dried.

I have to say, it is very scary when a very large Standard Poodle suddenly has what I call a 'dryer seizure.'

I grabbed him off of the drying table and immediately carried him out of the grooming, room into the lobby, and headed for the front door.
As soon as the outside air hit him he stopped fussing and screaming.
I put him back on my grooming table and spent about 10 or 15 minutes petting him and calming myself down.

I hate those dryer seizures.  :(

That day I finished him up with the small hand dryer.
He was already 3/4 of the way dry.

The next time he came in for a grooming, I debated about trying the HV again.
For 10 years this dog had never had a problem with the HV dryer.
This was also a Standard Poodle with thick hair and he gets a Lamb cut in the summer and a long Puppy Cut in the winter.

The thought of hand drying that dog with a hand dryer and brush made my wrists hurt just thinking about it.

So I packed his ears with cotton and used the Happy Hoodie to try to HV dry him again.
I also only turned the HV dryer up only half way.

It worked.
He got through the drying just fine.

The next time he came in I packed his ears with cotton again and used the Happy Hoodie like before.
Each time I was watching very closely for early signs of having one of those dryer seizures.
I got one leg dry when he suddenly started to stiffen and whine a little.
I turned the dryer off just in time, before he went into a full blown dryer seizure.

Today I didn't even try the HV drier.
It has been my experience that once a dog has a drier seizure, you can rarely ever use the HV dryer on them again.
Since he got upset after only drying one leg last time I didn't even want to take a chance this time.

OMG am I spoiled!

How did I do without a HV dryer for so long?

I dried the Standard with a magnet towel and also rubbed him down good with a regular towel.
Then I wrapped him in a large towel and put him in his kennel, on two more towels, to try to soak up as much water off of him as possible before I started drying.

 I started drying him by hand.


I know, I know.
I guess some groomers would say; "why not just kennel dry the dog?"


I AM SPOILED!!!!!!!!!

I can't even imagine scissoring a Puppy Cut on a kennel dried Standard Poodle.
I must have my Poodles hair blown as straight as possible so I can scissor a nice finish.

 45 minutes later!

We did take a couple of breaks, as much for my wrists as for the dog.

I could have had him totally dry in 20 minutes with the HV.

He also would have been a heck of a lot straighter and fluffier too.

About a month ago I saw a question on one of the grooming forums.
The groomer asked; what dryer did groomers like using for fluff drying?

Or something like that.

I was a little surprised at how many groomers said that they felt the only way to get the hair nice and straight was by hand drying with a stand dryer.

Some groomers talked about only using the HV to get the water off of the dog, and that the HV could tangle up the hair.

I use the HV to totally fluff dry my dogs most of the time.

I used my hand dryer for touch up drying, and drying parts of the dog that they would not let my use the HV on.

I rarely ever use this part of the hose.

I have found that the force of the air coming out of the pointy regulator, and the noise that it creates, really scares a lot of dogs.

The only thing that I find it good for is blowing excess water off of large, hairy dogs.

It is also very important to hold this tool well away from the dog.

I love using the fat part of the hose.

It is much more gentle feeling on the dog.

It rarely tangles the hair.

Even long hair.

 When put up right against the skin, it does a fantastic job of straightening the hair while drying.

 If you have a dog that has really stubbornly curly hair, just slow the movement of the hose.

Instead of running the hose back and forth quickly while drying, slow down and use circular movements, holding the dryer in one area for about 10 or 20 seconds before moving on to the next area.

Look how nice and straight that hair is....without using a brush.  :)

Look at that nice fluffy coat, and I haven't even brushed it yet.

 Boy, I missed using my HV on that Standard today.

Well, at least I have 7 weeks before I have to hand dry him again. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Photo Shoot in Session

I can't believe that it has been 5 years since I took good pictures of my customers dogs.
I took pictures of all of the dogs, well the dogs who would let me take pictures.  :)


I took the pictures to put up on my lobby wall.

The customers loved it.

The only problem is, because these pictures were taken 5 years ago, quite a few of the dogs have passed away.

I also have new customers asking all of the time; "when are you going to put my dogs picture on the wall?"

I no longer had  my photo area.
It had long ago become a catch-all area.
Towels, coats, bags, you name it.
That corner of the room had turned into an embarrassment.

You knew those places.
Everyone's got at least one of those places in their house.
If not a corner, maybe a table top, or at least one junk drawer in the house.


You mean it's just me?!

Maybe it is, because whenever I complain about it, everyone says; "I didn't put that stuff there!"

You will notice that I did not take a before picture of that corner.
Remember, I said I was embarrassed.

Now it is all cleaned up.
I took one of my kids school desks to use for the dogs to sit on.
I only have one child left to home school now, so the one big heavy desk, that has seen better days, will be great for putting all sizes of dogs on.

It fit perfectly in the corner of the room, next to a couple of kennels.

I got a shower curtain rod that you twist tight to make it stay up on the wall.

 I choose three different colors for backdrops.

I also decided on a furry type of material.

I have about 2 yards hanging from the shower rod.
I have about a yard of each color of material to drape over the desk.

This way when pull over the color that I want to use for the backdrop, I can easily switch colors on the table also.

There is also a thick pad on the top off the table, and under the material, so the dogs feel secure and the material does not slide. 

Boots could not wait to jump up on the table, so I used him as my model when I was setting everything up.

He was a very willing victim.

A few Christmases ago, I gave all of my customers a single sheet calendar with their dogs picture on it.
Other than the cost of ink for printing out the picture calendars, it was fairly inexpensive and easy to do.

My customers loved them.

So, yesterday I started taking professional type pictures.
I say professional type, because I am a want-to-be photographer to say the least.

It will take me all year to get pictures of all of the dogs.
Some days I will have time, some days I won't.

Here are some of the pictures I took yesterday.

This one was my favorite picture. :)

Hopefully I will get better as I go along.

I will say that setting up a photo corner next to the grooming room door is not the smartest thing I have ever done.

It has only been two days of taking pictures, and my husband has almost knocked me over coming through the door, a couple of dozen times.

It's inevitable, since I kneel down to take the pictures. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF