One of the things that I hate the most about grooming is when an owner lies to me.
Sometimes I stand there listening to an owner explain why they missed an appointment, or why their dog is matted, and when they finish speaking it is all I can do not to say; "Do I really look that stupid?!"
I should have kept a small notebook under my counter all these years so that I could have written down all of the excuses, or comments that owners have said to me over the years.
Sad to say, but I have kind of gotten used to it now.
I have come to expect lame excuses and out and out lies about matted dogs and missed appointments.
It is so nice when a customer comes in and honestly admits to not brushing their dog, or waiting too long to make an appointment.
The one thing that bothers me more than anything, is when a customer brings in a dog and does not warn me that their dog may be, or is a biter, or a problem dog.
Yesterday I had a new customer come in with her Schnauzer.
The first red flag for me was not when the dog growled at me when I first approached him.
I have had some of the sweetest dogs growl when you approach them with their owner.
The red flag was that the owner very quickly stopped filling out her new customer form and put her hand between me and the dog telling him to be good.
I could feel the owners worry and tension.
The owner was watching very closely as I greeted the dog and went to pick him up.
I have seen owners do this before when they are expecting the dog to bite me.
The dog was very tense, overgrown, and matted.
We talked about the cut.
The owner wanted the Schnauzer cut, and she wanted full legs, skirt, and a bib on the chest. :/
I told her that a style clip would depend on whether or not her dog would let me brush him.
I don't know about Schnauzers in other areas, but here they are notorious for hating having their legs brushed, and fooled with.
The entire time that I was talking with the owner, I was holding the Schnauzer in my arms, petting him, he was tense and skiddish the entire time.
On top of that, the owner was watching him like a hawk.
There were too many red flags.
The dogs tension and fear.
The fact that the head looked a lot longer than the body, making me think that the last groomer may not have been able to do the head.
The dog being overgrown and matted.
The owners tension.
The way the owner kept watching her dog, and look as if she was ready to pounce if her dog moved the wrong way.
All of this was going through my mind while I was talking to the owner about the cut.
So, the last thing that I asked her was; "Has he ever had any problems with being groomed?"
"No, not at all," she told me.
I was in the middle of grooming a special needs dog when this owner came in, so I took her dog to the grooming room and put him in a kennel to chill out while I finished the other dog.
When I put him in the kennel, I waited for him to turn back to me, then I petted and talked to him a little before I closed the kennel door.
I also left his leash on, hanging out of the kennel door, just in case he turned out to be kennel shy.
He was fine coming out of the kennel when I was ready to bathe him.
Boy, was this dog tense.
He flinched every time I touched him.
He was wound so tight I thought he was going to pop.
I got him in the tub.
He was petrified of everything!
He practically jumped out of his skin when I turned the water on, before it even touched him.
I have to say, that at this point, I was very upset with the owner.
This dog was showing all kinds of signs of being a potential fear biter.
I was sure that the owner knew something about this dog and she didn't tell me.
He reluctantly let me wet down his body, but when I got the sprayer close to his head, he lost it.
It was as though I had a dog that had never been groomed in my tub.
This dog was 4 years old.
He already had the Schnauzer patter on him.
She told me that he had been groomed before with no problems.
This dog was not acting like this just because he was at a new shop.
This dog was petrified to even be touched.
I would have laid money down that this owner had been told about her dog by another groomer.
I immediately went into puppy mode.
I treated this dog like he was a little puppy that had never been groomed before.
I turned the water pressure down.
I worked very slowly, making sure that the dog knew what I was about to do, before I did it.
I talked him through the bath, telling him everything that I was doing, reassuring him that he was going to be okay.
At first I wasn't totally sure that I was even going to be able to wash his face.
I got him to calm down and relax a little by very slowly and gently rubbing his face with shampoo.
I couldn't help but worry a little that he was not going to let me rinse the shampoo off of his face.
I rinsed his body first, letting the warm water relax him.
I turned the pressure down as low as it would go on the sprayer, put the sprayer right up against his skin on his back, and very slowly moved the sprayer up his neck to the back of his head.
He struggled a tiny bit, but I told him that he was okay, and he relaxed and let me rinse his head.
I will say, that for as scared as he was, he never tried to bite me.
I don't like to talk bad about other groomers, but I couldn't help but wonder what had caused this dog to be so scared of the grooming process.
He was scared of the HV dryer, but I packed his ears with cotton and talked him through it.
He was still tense, but he settled down and let me dry his body and legs.
I didn't even attempt to dry his head with the HV.
I thought that that would be pushing it.
He would start to freak every time I got close to his head with the HV hose, so I would back off.
He did much better letting me dry his face and head with the hand dryer.
A lot of his mats came out with the dirt and the HV dryer.
He was actually very good about letting me brush out his legs.
He was still very skiddish, and I had to work and move slowly with him.
He only snapped once, and it was a very half hearted attempt while clipping his nails.
I was still worried about his head.
Would he let me clip it?
He was very good.
He was a little touchy around the ears, but he didn't fight it.
I had to shave out his belly because the mats were too tight.
I also had to scissor the skirt shorter than the owner wanted, but I was able to keep the bib for her.
Maybe if she comes back, I can talk the owner into letting me groom the skirt and bib right.
But she is the one paying, so if she likes it like this, that's okay.
I'll be happy if he comes back so that I can keep working with him and get him to like the grooming.
I told the owner how he was to be groomed.
She insisted that she did not know he was like that.
She was a nice owner, and I wanted to believe her.
I was just really having a hard time believing that another groomer had not told her about her dog before.
Another thing that was making me have a hard time believing her was, that when I brought her dog up to her, she seemed so surprised at how he looked.
That his head was groomed.
There is nothing like bring a dog out to their owner, after you have groomed their dog, and having them ask; "He didn't bite you did he?"
"No, why?" I always ask.
"Because he bite the last groomer and they wouldn't groom him anymore," the owner says with a sideways grin on their face.
Don't you think that that deserves some kind of slap in the head?
I just wish that they would not lie to me.
I get really upset if a dog bites me, and the owner knew that the dog was a bitter and didn't tell me.
I can work so much better with a dog if I know what to expect.
I can also schedule for the extra time it takes to groom these types of dogs.
This one took me twice as long as he should have.
Luckily, this dog didn't turn out to be a biter. :)
Happy Grooming, MFF