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.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

When You Least Expect It....

As I groom at work each day, I am thinking about things that I might post if I have enough time at night.
Yesterday wasn't hard to come up with something, because one of the first customers of the day rubbed me the wrong way.

I don't know what it is lately, but it is  some of my regulars that are being the PITAs.
I know some people would say that I let my customers walk all over me, but I don't.
It was that way early in my career I admit.

I am much better about standing up for myself, my shop, and my grooming now, but...
I do spoil my customers.

If they ask for a favor, like getting their dog out early, or for us to babysit their dog all day, or moving an appointment around at the last minute, we do it without giving them a hard time.

I really don't mind doing favors for my customers.
Most of them really appreciate it.

Then you have the others that you really go out of your way for, and then they start to take advantage of it, or expect it.

Case in point;
I live 40 minutes from my shop.
I have a customer that lives about 20 minutes from me.
She is a little out of the way, but still on the way to work.

I have been grooming her Cock-a-poo for about 12 years now.
She found me after her Vet recommended me when her dog was kicked out of several grooming shops.
Her dog is what I call 'grumpy aggressive'.

He is a sweet dog most of the time.
The rest of the time, if you do something he does not like, he will snap, and growl at you, but he is not what I consider 'viciously aggressive'.
All you usually have to do is say, "Excuse me" or, "Cool it buster" or, "that is not necessary," in a firm voice and he backs off.

Anyway, for awhile the husband and wife would take turns dropping off and picking up the dog.
Then I groomed him out of my Van, in front of their house for awhile.
Even after I opened my shop back up, I continued to  groomed him in the Van, because the husband could be a pain about picking the dog up. (wife's dog)

After while I got tired of making special time  to groom him out of the Van, and asked the wife if they could start bring the dog back into the shop again.
This worked for maybe a few months, then one day, when the husband was supposed to drop off the dog at 8am, we had a problem.

The husband had apparently arrived at about 7:50am, we open at 8am.
We tend to pull up right at 8:00.
When we got in the shop the phone was already ringing.
It was the wife.
Her husband had called her all upset that we were not open when he got there so he was taking the dog to a friend of theirs house.
I knew where this house was because I had dropped the dog off there before when his owners were on vacation.
The wife was upset with her husband and begged me to go get the dog.
He had left the dog tied up outside because their friend was not up yet.

When I pulled up to the house, I did not see the dog.
I walked down the driveway to the back of the house. (there is no fenced in yard)
There was the dog....tied to the garage door.
If anyone had opened that garage door from the inside, without seeing the dog, they would have hung him.

So, after that, I offered to pick up and drop the dog off.
That was about 5 or 6 years ago, before the gas prices exploded.
The wife is a nurse and works all kinds of shifts, and that is way I offered to help her out.

Now please don't yell at me. :/

I do not charge her for picking up and delivering her dog.

I heard that!

I no, I no.

I know your shaking your head, but hold on, I haven't finished yet.

You will really want to yell at me now.

About three years ago the wife starts asking me what I though about Goldendoodles.
Believe me I did not hold back.
I tried very hard to talk her out of a Goldendoole.
She already complained enough about the cost of grooming the dog she had now.
I warned her that grooming a Goldendoodle would be very expensive.
I tried so hard to talk her into a little lap dog.

She got a Goldendoodle...a very poorly bred Goldendoodle.
The Doodle is very, very sweet, but she is a spoiled, untrained, nutcase.

Yes....they just assumed that I would pick up and deliver this dog too.

Yesssss, (hanging my head in shame) I pick up and deliver that dog too.
Yesssssss, (hanging my head even lower) I still do not charge for it.

The last few times that we have picked up her dogs, we have asked the wife to pick up the dogs as soon as they were done, because the Cock-a-poo is older now and no longer likes staying at the shop all day till we go home.

This worked out fine until yesterday.

We had talked to the wife after the last grooming about her picking up the dogs, after they are done, from now on, because it was better for her older dog....she agreed.

Fast forward to yesterday.
The weatherman was calling for sloppy, messy weather, and possible slippery roads for the evening rush hour, so we were glad that the owner would be picking up her dogs after they were done, and we would not have to detour to take them home.

When my husband picked up the dogs, he was met by the husband.
"We can't pick them up today, so you are going to have to bring them home," he informed my husband.

No... would you mind bringing them home.
No.... sorry.
No... thank you for doing this for us.

I was not a happy camper.
We have gone above and beyond.
Why do people have to ruin it.
Why do they have to make you fell like an idiot for ever doing them a favor in the first place.

We will be talking to them before their next appointment.

That was only the beginning of the day.

On to the next customer who is slowly burning his bridge.

We have been grooming this Cocker for about 11 years.

He is another 'grumpy aggressive' dog that has been thrown out of other grooming shops.

My daughter and I both groom this dog.
We have both been bitten by him on the past, but nothing serious.

We have worked with him over the years and for a while there he was doing pretty good.

He had his moments, but for the most part, if you gave him your undivided attention, and worked slowly, he was okay.

About a year ago this Cocker suffered some serious back issues.
He became partially paralyzed.
The Vet gave him very little time.

His owners called and asked if we would still groom him even if he could no longer stand.
We did.
He was actually very good about it.
The medication that the poor dog was put on made him balloon up in no time.
This is not helping his back or his knees.
It has made him  understandably grumpier.

The last time he was in, my daughter called me over to the tub while she was bathing him because she was concerned about his breathing.
We made the call to finish bathing and drying him, but sent him home without a hair cut.
His owners were very understanding and thanked us for worrying and caring about their dog.
We have done nothing but take extra special care with this dog over the years.

That is why I was so surprised when the owner walked in yesterday and asked; "has anything changed in your routine with him to make him shake when he comes in here? He never shakes."

Are you kidding me?!
This dog is not scared of anything.
He would eat you alive if you looked at him the wrong way.
He has bitten his own owners.
We have gone out of our way to work with this dog, and you are going to come into my shop and make some veiled attempt to ask me if we have somehow hurt your dog to cause it to shake when you bring him in?

Am I wrong?
Am I being overly sensitive?
Was it just an innocent question that I have blown out of proportion?

My son bathed and dried part of him before I came into take over. 
He did pretty good with my son other than some growling and snapping about his front legs.
This is not unusual.
His front legs are one of his trigger points.

I have to say, for some reason this dog really likes me, and he behaves the best for me, although that does not stop him from going after me when he feels like it.

For years I would not let my daughter touch any of the biting dogs, but the better she got at grooming, the more she wanted me to let her do the challenging dogs too.
I finally gave in, and she does a great job with the nasty ones too.
She likes the challenge of working with them, and getting them to like the grooming.
She can be as stubborn as me, and not accept help when she is dealing with a difficult dog.

Anyway, back to the Cocker.

He was grumpy yesterday, but he is not feeling well.
A lot of medical issues going on with him right now.
He did go after me when I was drying his head and ears with the towel.
One minute he was happily rubbing his head on the towel in my hands and the next second he was trying to eat my hand and the towel.
Thankfully the towel protected my hand. 

I did the worst thing I could do with this dog.
I was not paying attention.
I was rubbing his head and talking to my daughter at the same time.
A big no-no with this dog.
You must keep your full attention on him at all times.

As I groomed him, I worked slowly, talked to him a lot, and never took my eyes off of him.

I was in tuned to every move he made.

 The only warning that he tends to give you that you have upset him, and he may bite is, he looks right at you.

Most of the time all that I have to do is say gently; "you're doing fine buddy, just relax," and he does.

He did great for this grooming.

He never even attempted to bite, even for his front legs.

Another successful grooming, or was it.

His owner always comes for him right away.
Usually within 10 minutes of our phone call.
My daughter waited on the owner when he came in.
He always asks how his dog did.
He gets upset when we tell him that his dog did try to bite, but not at us.
He is very embarrassed when his dog is bad.

He asked my daughter if his dog had tried to bite her.
She told him, "not today."
"Good," he said. "I would feel terrible if he ever bit you."
My daughter smiled at him and said, "I'll get him for you."

The Cocker is always very happy to be going home, and usually walks right into his harness waiting while you clip it closed.
My daughter started putting on his harness like she has a thousand times before.

Can you see where this is going?

I looked over to see  my daughter struggleing a little to put his harness on.
He was not walking forward like he usually does.
I instantly got a bad feeling.
Chomp, chomp, chomp.

I wasn't fast enough.

He got her three times before he let go.

The deepest bite was the fatty part of her palm, next to the thumb.

He really did a number on her.

We spent the evening a Patient First, mainly to get a tetanus shot  (her next one was do this coming June) and, an Xray because the tooth hit her bone.

How do you like our makeshift bandage?

 The bone was okay.

They cleaned her up and sent her home.

It was her left hand.

She is left handed.

She did not work today, but she wants to work tomorrow.

As of 9:30 tonight she couldn't even brush her own hair.
Tomorrow doesn't look good.
She has eight dogs on herself, one being a St. Poodle.
This definitely doesn't look good.

The Cockers owners were very upset that their dog did this.
Especially because my daughter was only putting on his harness at the time.

They have offered to pay the doctor bill.
We'll see.
We have Insurance, and we assume the risk when we take on a known bitter.

Will I groom him again?


I don't think that he has a lot of time left, he is not doing well.
I am not going to send him somewhere else now.

I will be the only one working on him from now on.

So much for playing with dogs all day.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Do any of your customers read your blog do you think?

  2. I hope Jessica is okay! :(

    Anywhoo, I think with the "you have to take him home thing" should be out of the question from now on.. I know you've done this dog for a long time, but if they really love you, they'll find a way... you did your share of helping and it bit you in the butt :(

  3. OUCH!! Hope she will heal fast!
    I'm curious.. do you find that particular color of cocker is more apt to be aggressive?? Nearly every single Orange and White Parti we do is nasty! Just wondering..

  4. Ohhhh i hope ur daughter gets better fast so she can work and thank God it didnt break the bone :/ my best wishes foe her!!!!

  5. OMGoodness! I've been grooming for fun since I was in middle school, I was always left handed for everything. After a horrific car crash in high school (I was side swiped into oncoming traffic by a driving texter...), months of wearing a brace on my left wrist, and unable to move my fingers for weeks. I'm a VERY stubborn person, and honest enough to admit it. I refused to stop cutting both human and pet hair, I re-taught myself all over again how to cut hair... this time with my right hand. It was a good thing that I did, my left wrist has bouts of carpel tunnel all of the time, I can't sign my own name more than a few times, or close a pair of scissors more than 10 times :\ It works out great, I groom with my right hand and when I have a tricky angle I can hand it over to my good old left hand and scissor for a moment. Being ambidextrous does have it's advantages, it just took me a whole year to get as good with my right as I was with my left.
    I hope she heals well, keep it free from bacteria. I wear a latex glove when I have an injury, I'd hate to risk an infection. I'm sure you guys are no strangers to dog bites :\
    Comes with the job... unfortunately.
    Keep your chin up, for every PITA customer, there are 50 more to praise you for all that you do!
    BTW, I see nothing wrong with your blogs, I'd suppose if a customer were to see them it would help them understand what you go through. If it were about them, perhaps they might behave themselves better after realizing that actions can affect others, often not the way you might expect.
    As groomers we deal with the most wonderful, and the most insane of customers. Even if we are having a rocky road of a day, you usually cannot tell with a good groomer. No one knows you are having a bad day, and it's no one's business. We smile and keep working. Because that is what we do.

  6. Hi Anonymous,
    I don't advertize my blog to my customers. I mainly write this blog to share with other groomers. 90% of my posts are about how to groom.
    Some of my posts are ranting posts. Unfortunately groomers seem to get a bum wrap. Our job is not looked at as a serious job by many people, even a lot of our customers. Sometimes customers tends to treat you like you are just there to serve them and are very tactless in the things that they say and the way that they treat you.
    I have a lot of really great customers, but sometimes even a few of those great customers seem to forget that you have feelings.
    I don't use any names when I post stories about some of my customers. I did not post a picture of the dogs in my first story in this post for a reason. I have no desire to upset a customer. I was venting frustration of feeling used and unappreciated. If my customer saw this post, I would hope that she would understand, and maybe even realize what I do for her. Of course, in this day and age you can't seem to say anything without upsetting someone. :/
    I am wondering, because of your question, do you think I should not have written about my frustration? :)
    Lisa, MFF

  7. Hi Westies,
    Jess is doing much better today. I will have to wait and see what happens with this customer. I do really like the wife. She is usually much more considerate than her husband.

    Hi D,
    YES, YES, YES, I think it has more to do with the orange coloring. Aprocot poodles are nuts, orange cats are nuts. :)
    It is amazing, but most of the American Cockers that I have groomed over the years that were orange and white were crazy, or aggressive.
    Now, English Cockers of the same coloring...no problem. Actually had one that was the sweetest dog I ever met.
    Oh, Jess is doing much better, Thanks.
    Lisa, MFF

  8. Thanks Serena,
    I was feeling a little guilty about ranting about my customers. My customers don't EVER know when I am upset with them. I don't take anything out on them or their dogs. Hense, the reason for buying the punching bag. :)
    Both my daughter and I are left handed, but for some reason I have always been able to use both of my hands equally. I can even write with my right hand. It's not pretty, but I can do it. The funny thing is, when I was in grooming school they did not have any left handed scissors so in order to keep up with the class I learned to scissor right handed. I still scissor right handed to this day. I have never taken the time to learn left handed. :(
    Jessica is doing much better today. Thanks.
    Lisa, MFF

  9. I too am a left handed groomer.. My boss has been doing a 20 plus year like you, and SHE is also left handed.. she uses right handed scissors and just flips them upside down, told me she'd smack me if i ver bought left handers, says right ones do just fine.. I clip better righty though, it's odd, isn't it?

  10. I worry about whether my clients would "recognize" themselves in my blog posts.. and I do have a disclaimer, so my employer hopefully wouldn't get in the middle of any legality issues. I don't advertise it to my clients. I do what I can to "protect" the identities. That said, since I started my blog, I've noticed it really is theraputic.. to let people know what really happens. Some of my friends that are also my clients know about it, and they are so funny.. saying.. "I hope this conversation doesn't end up on your blog!"

    Keep writing! It is so nice to read someone elses "adventures" are so much like mine!

  11. Lisa, no, I didn't mean you shouldn't write it and I know you write mostly for groomers. But I love your blog and I'm not a groomer... I just wondered since it's not really anonymous and someone could theoretically identify themselves if you ever thought about it. I think someof yourcustomers should read your blog as it may make them better dog owners or nicer people! Lol.

  12. Westies,
    I think that we lefties have no choice but to learn to do somethings right handed. My Mom was born left handed also, she is 73 now. Back when she went to school it was considered evil to be left handed and the Nuns tied her left hand to the chair and forced her to use her right hand. To this day she can only write with her right hand even though she uses her left for most other things.
    Even now it is very hard to find good left handed shears, and I meet more and more left handed people everyday.
    Lisa, MFF

    You are so right, it is very therapeutic. I enjoy writing as much as I enjoy reading. If someone takes offense to something that I write, I guess I will deal with that when it happens. I try to be very tactful when telling my stories. I don't want to hurt any of my customers feelings. That is why I don't mention any names. Maybe I should think about a disclaimer too. :)
    Lisa, MFF

    Hi again Anonymous,
    I was not upset by your question. It is a question that I think about every time that I tell a story about a customer.
    Not to sound mean, but I am not really sure that some of the customers that I have written about would even recognize themselves. lol
    I am glad that you enjoy reading my blog even though you are not a groomer. :)
    Lisa, MFF