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 20, 2012

Never Been Professionally Groomed

On top of everything else last week, I had two separate, first time customers bring in dogs that had never had a professional grooming before.

The first customer was a lady that lives in the neighborhood that my shop is located.
I see her all of the time.
She has been walking her dog regularly for the last a couple of years right past our shop.

A few times, when I have been taking our dogs out to the potty, she has come over and asked about grooming, but had never come in to make a appointment.

She finally walked in with the dog a couple of weeks ago thinking about making an appointment.
She was very reluctant to make one, and had a lot of questions for me.
Her biggest fear was of us hurting  her dog.
She has apparently had several friends and family have bad experiences with groomers.
Each story involved the dogs being hurt.

This potential customers dog was a Bichon, and she was 3 years old.
For three years the owner had been cutting and grooming the dog herself.
From what I could see, she had been doing a pretty good job, only now some mats were getting out of control.
She knew that it was time for a professional grooming, but she was scared.

I guess that I passed all of her questions and made her feel good enough to book an appointment.
I did pick up the dog while it was there.
Yes, she did go after me, but I ignored it.
She was petrified, tense and ready to bolt.
This was not helping to calm down the owner.

I ignored the dogs squirming and just held her and rubbed her while continuing to talk to the customer.
She eventually stopped squirming and trying to get out of my arms, but she was still very tense and ready to bolt out of my arms.
Just the fact that she stopped fighting in my arms seemed to make the owner feel better.
She made an appointment.

To be honest, as I watched her and the dog walk out of the shop, I figured that it was a 50/50 chance that she would keep the appointment.

She showed up right on time. :)

 There was no taking your hands off of this dog.

If given the chance, she would be off the table, out the door, and home before you could blink.

Three years old and never been to the groomers.

Mom said she didn't like driers.
I had no idea how she was going to be in the tub.
Some owners do really well bathing their own dogs.
Some owners unintentionally make their dogs petrified of water.

She didn't do too bad in the bath.
She was still very scared.
More so of the fact that her Mom left her in a strange place, with a strange lady, then of the bath.

The dryer.

Imagine suddenly having some big snake thing that is very load, start blowing air at you while you are wet.

She made a beeline straight for my shoulder.

I let her stay there.

I let her tuck her face into my neck.

I continued to dry her, talking to her and telling her that it would be okay.

It also helped a little that she could see out the window to her street.

She accepted the dryer fairly quickly.

She was a smart little lady.

She even surprised me and let me use the HV on her head and face without getting the least bit upset.

She fluffed up nicely.

She was no longer trying to jump off of the table, but I still would not take my hands off of her.

She's too smart.  :)

Her nails had only been clipped once in her life, but because her Mom walks her half a dozen times a day, they hadn't gotten too bad.

She did really great letting me clip her nails.

She also did really great letting me pluck her ears.
They were loaded with hair.

There was only one problem.

It wasn't the dog.

It was the cat!

Our cat.

He would not stay off of my table.

He liked this dog.

The dog could care less.

She would not even look at him.

She only had eyes for watching out the window.

 I must have had to take him off of my table at least a dozen times before I throw him out of the grooming room.

Look how good the Bichon was being.

As long as she could look out the window, she didn't move.

This 3 year old Bichon, that had never been professionally groomed before, turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

The owner was very happy with the groom.

It makes your day when an owner truly loves the groom that you did on their dog, and they tell you so.  :)

The second dog came in on Friday.

His owner had used our Self-Serve a couple of times.
The last time she came in to use the Self-Serve, the dog was very matted, and my husband told her that she needed to have the dog clipped.

They did not make an appointment right away.
They tried to scissor on him at home.

He is a year and a half old.

He had also never been professionally groomed.

He was very hyper in my lobby when she dropped him off.

I could barley hold on to him when I picked him up.

He was not in any way aggressive, just very hyper and antsy.

I remember thinking; 'there is no way this guy is going to sit still for grooming.'

He did really well in the tub and for the dryer.

He was pretty matted and I had to take him shorter than I think that the owner wanted.

So I took pictures just in case the owner got upset when they saw him for the first time after the groom.

Even though I told the owner, at drop-off, that I would have to take their dog short,
you never know.

Pictures help cover your bu**.
Especially on a white dog whose skin will show after the clip.

He did much better than I ever expected when I first picked him up in the lobby.

He was a joy to groom.

The owners had chopped the face up pretty good with scissors but wanted the face to grown out to be a full round face.

The owner liked the groom, but it was a reserve happiness, because the dog was shorter than they wanted .

Both of these first time grooming customers made their next appointments when they picked up the dogs.

Two more customers shown that groomers are here to help their dogs, not hurt them.

I wish I knew where and how groomers became the low man on the dog service totem pole.
Why people think that grooming is playing with a dog.
Why people think grooming will, or must hurt their dog.
Why people don't take grooming their dogs seriously.

There was a story on the internet last week about a woman that claimed her groomer had cut her dogs ear off.
The media ran with it.
From what I could tell from the story it looked as though the groomer had cut the inside of the ear.
The ear was healed, there was a scar, but the ear had not been cut off.
It is very sad that this happened.
I have no idea whether it was groomer carelessness, or an innocent accident caused by the dog moving the wrong way at the wrong time.

The thing that bothered me more than anything was reading the comments below the story.

Now, I understand that there are people out there that spend their days making mean comments on news stories, because they have nothing better to do, but most of these comments were from pet owners, and they were very quick to bash the groomer in the story, and groomers in general.

It is really upsetting to read about how people feel about groomers, and a lot of these people never had a groomer hurt their dog, their dog may have just had a bad hair cut, or their dog had been shaved down. 
They are just jumping on the 'bash the groomer' band wagon.

I guess that I am sensitive to this because I have been on the receiving end of this cruel bashing.
 For doing Creative Grooming.
I was shocked when a friend posted pictures of my Hanna after I had done a creative groom on her for an expo.

These two simple pictures caused so many mean responses that my friend removed the pictures.

 I was judged as an abusive pet owner who should be shot.

I was told that I should not be allowed to own a dog.

I can't even repeat some of the things that were said.

Ignorance is a scarey thing.

People have their opinions, and they don't want to listen to facts or truth.

Pet Grooming is a job that requires so many different  skills.

Good customer relations.
A tough skin (for all of those tactless comments)
A knowledge of animal behavior.
Physical stamina.
Fast reflexes.
Patience, patience, patience.
With a sprinkle of ESP on top.

How in the world do we as groomers teach people to respect us as professionals?
I personally don't think that Regulation is the answer.
There are a lot of regulated fields out there that have really bad people in them.

There are stories of Doctors and Dentists to name a couple, that are always in the news, yet I don't see people bashing all Doctors and Dentists.

Uh oh, I better stop.
Somehow I started climbing on that soapbox again.  :)

So, if you are a pet owner out there reading this post, and wondering if you should have your dog professionally groomed, the answer is:
You must do the ground work to find a good and caring groomer.
Don't deprive your pet of a healthy, cared for coat, because you heard that groomers only shave dogs hair off, or they cut dogs.

Most groomers become groomers, because they they love pets and want to work with them and make them feel good.

I once believed that grooming got such a bad reputation because dogs were groomed out of sight of the owner, and peoples imaginations go wild.
I actually thought that places like Petsmart, with their open grooming room, would help to dispel some of the bad things that people thought that groomers were doing to there dog.

Every once in awhile I will get a dog on my table that fights for everything.
They will yank and pull away violently.
They will twist and turn. 
They will cry if you look at them the wrong way.

Unfortunately, owners don't see things as they are.
The owner sees the dog being thrown around the table.
The owner sees the dog yank away because the groomer was doing something that must be hurting it.
The owner thinks that the dog is crying because it is being abused.

Owners need to know that groomers want a dog that stands still on their table.
That we are not yanking and pushing them around on the table.
If a dog is moving around on the table, it is because the dog is doing it, not the groomer.
The groomer needs the dog to be still so that accidents don't happen.

Owners have to also realize that groomers are working on a living thing that has a mind of its own.
It moves, jumps, or yanks at the wrong time.
It barks whenever it wants to.
It will fight about something that it doesn't like even if it doesn't hurt them.

Yes, there are bad groomers out there.
There are bad, unskilled people in every profession.
But, where there are bad professionals, there are many more professionals out there that love their jobs and care about the work that they do.
You just have to find them.

I climbed right back up on that dag gone box again didn't I?


This is something that I am very passionate about.
It is frustrating to work hard everyday only to have even friends and family not take your chosen career seriously, much less people you don't even know.

I once had a friend talking to me about how stressful her job was.
When I agreed and talked about how stressful it could get grooming, she looked at me in shock.
"What in the world is stressful about your job!" she exclaimed.
"I would love to spend everyday playing with dogs!"
She honestly could not wrap her mind around my job having any stress.

Oh, good grief, I am starting up again.

I am stopping right now!

It's time to make dinner.

Chicken and broccoli Alfredo with Penna pasta.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. It's funny how people will have a dog that's a matted mess with poop caked to its rear and see nothing wrong but YOU are abusive because your dog is colorful. Lol

  2. I love your poodle cut, think it is very innovative and fun, maybe a disclaimer at the bottom "absolutely no animals were hurt in the making of this groom"???

    I was distressed as well by the story about the dog who supposedly had its ear cut off and was disappointed by the comments.

    Thank you for your blog.

  3. Hi Anonymous,
    :) I agree!

    Hi Paisely,
    Even a disclaimer probably wouldn't stop mean people from making mean comments. Some people only see what they want to see. :(
    Thanks for reading my blog. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  4. Thank you! I love your blog. I can't stop reading it. I'm a groomer at Petsmart, and it's really learn as you go. Three years now and I'm only just starting to get comfortable with techniques, teddy heads, etc. Your blog is so helpful.

  5. Hi Anonymous,
    Thank you, I am glad that my blog is helpful to you.
    You're right on track. It does take awhile to really get comfortable grooming. Always remember though...don't ever get TOO comfortable and let down your guard, because THAT is when an accident will happen. I try to never be over confident that a dog will sit there and not move at the wrong time.
    I will admit that even after 28 years you can still get a dog once in awhile that makes you feel like you don't know what you are doing. lol
    One other little tip; don't ever let anyone rush you. I would rather have an upset customer waiting for 5 or 10 minutes for me to finish than have to stand there and tell the owner that I nicked an ear or a foot because I was rushing to get their dog done.
    I am sorry that you have to learn as you go. I would hope that a large Corporation like that would offer on going education for their groomers.
    It says a lot about you that you are reading things to help you get better. Good luck to you. If you ever have any grooming questions feel free to e-mail me at furryfriendpets@yahoo.com and I will try to answer your questions or find an answer for you. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  6. I just found this blog and I can relate to it so easily since I am also a salon owner/groomer since 1988 and I get very frustrated on a weekly basis and have to rationalize every thing to keep my thoughts and feelings under control about the uneducated dog owners. From what I see as dogs become less pets and more children it is getting worse for the groomers to deal with the owners fears and concerns. In the case of your dogs creative grooming it is so absurd how some people think and I have seen this change just recently. In 1990 I bought a standard poodle that I kept with me all the time at work and she was dyed pink and in a continental clip, people would see her in the back yard at my work and stop and take pictures of her, once I took her to a local carnival in a shopping center parking lot and people wanted to pose with her for pictures. Now days if you do that people think you are somehow cruel. Let me tell you she loved being dyed if only because of the extra attention she got.
    It is frustrating indeed to try and educate the public as a groomer and I have to admit at times I am ready to give up and try something else, but this is what I love to do and I have been doing it since 1977 so I guess until I can no longer do it I will continue and hope that at least groomers like you and me can try and educate our clients. Keep up the good work and I enjoy your blog.

    1. Hi PinkPoodleLady,
      Thanks for reading the blog! I bet your poodle looked beautiful. You are so right about the change in the way owners are viewing their dogs. It always amazes me how an owner doesn't think anything of letting their dog mat up, or asking us to brush the mats out so they don't have a short haired dog, but add a little color to your dog, or a design and you are the cruelest person around.
      I have no problem educating a customer on safely coloring a dog when they make a smart comment to me about coloring. I am very polite about it, but people are not always polite about listening to you. Pet grooming can definitely be a frustrating career...not because of the dogs, but because of the owners. lol
      Nice to know that someone has hung in there even longer than I have. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  7. Hello! I recently found your blog and love reading it. I am not a groomer but I like to read and learn about grooming because I just love grooming my little poodle and love the bonding. And so I really appreciate you and your blog and all the time and effort you take writing this blog. You sound like a very caring groomer and I agree those people just sounded ignorant. I think Hanna looks super absolutely adorable! And I also loved her as the butterfly :] /hugs