I had a new customer bring in her Yorkie the other day.
When I came up to the lobby to see the dog, I could tell right away that the owner seemed nervous.
The dog was shaking and scared, but I wasn't sure whether it was because the owner was nervous, or it was just a shaky, nervous dog.
The owner immediately started telling me the dogs grooming history.
The Yorkie is 3 years old and has been groomed by the same mobile groomer for all three years.
The Yorkie had been getting worse and worse about the grooming, even to the point of no longer letting the owner brush him.
He has started to snap at his owner when she goes to brush him.
The last time the dog was to be groomed, the mobile groomer refused to groom the dog, because the dogs owner told the groomer that the dog had snapped at her while she was brushing him right before the groomer got there.
The mobile groomer also suggested that the owner should talk to her Vet about tranquilizing the dog for the next grooming.
The more the owner talked, and the more she told me, I could not help but wonder about the mobile groomer.
The problem was, I have gotten several of my customers after they have used this same groomer, and lets just say, I have no comment.
I did not say anything about the other groomer to the customer.
I truly like to give other groomer the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately, you never know if the dogs owner is over exaggerating, or not telling the whole story.
And, lets face it, some dog are just crazy.
So, I needed to find out whether this dog was a nut, or was it the groomers fault that this little guy hated the grooming.
I asked the owner what she wanted done, and what length she wanted on the dog.
"I know you have to take him short, because the other groomer said that that was all that could be done with him," she told me.
"He also will not let you touch his legs and does not like his head fooled with, so do what you can."
I took the dog from his owner, and as he was desperately trying to get out of my arms and back to his owner, she said one last thing to me; "Don't worry if you can't finish grooming him, the other groomer was never able to finish his legs or head."
I did not know what to expect.
When holding and petting him, he was a very sweet dog, but he was terrified.
I put him in the tub and turned the water away from him to let it warm up and see how he would react.
He was shaking, but seemed okay.
...I put the water on him.
This photo is blurred for a reason.
This little guy went ballistic!
I can't even really describe how this dog reacted to the water touching him.
This 3 year old Yorkie, that had been getting groomed every six weeks for the last three years, acted like it had never seen water before.
This little guy was terrified...petrified is a better word!
I was getting angry.
Why was this dog so petrified of the bath?
This was not a dog just acting up, or being a nut.
This dog acted like something bad was happening.
After calming the dog down, I turned the water pressure down and tried again.
With a lot of talking and moving very slowly,he let me wet down his body.
Then I moved to the head.
If I thought that his reaction for wetting the body was bad, I hadn't seen anything yet.
Hadn't the other groomer been working with this dog?
Or had he been doing what I have seen other groomers do?
I had had one groomer work for me for a short while that I caught one day just standing back spraying water into a dogs face while he was cowering in the corner.
When I stopped her and asked her what she was doing, she got mad at me and told me that she had to get the shampoo off somehow and that the dog would not let her hold its face still.
She got even madder at me when I got the dog to hold still for having its face rinsed.
Needless to say, that groomer and I did not see eye to eye about the way to groom a dog.
Is that way of grooming the same way that the mobile groomer feels about it?
Has the other groomer been standing back just squirting water into this little Yorkies face?
Believe it or not, when I first started to grooming dogs, I was told to rinse a face like that if the dog would not let you hold the face.
How many other groomers have been taught or told the same thing?
I am here to tell you, right now, that that is not the way to rinse a dogs face when they fight you.
It takes extra time and a lot of patience, but you can teach a dog to except the water on its face.
You just have to get past the fear.
Believe me, I understand that some dogs are their own worst enemy.
No matter how hard you try to keep water out of the nose, some dogs will turn their faces right into the water, ruining all of the work you did trying to get them to except having their faces rinsed.
This little terrified Yorkie was no different.
But, I did get him to calm down enough to let me get a little water on his face.
I didn't want to push it.
I also had a towel right next to me, ready to wipe water away from his nose.
He was very good about letting me soap up his face.
I will admit, all I could think while soaping up his face was, 'please let me be able to rinse all of this soap off of your face.'
Next, I tested him with his legs.
At first he jerked his leg away when I picked it up, but once he realized that all I was going to do was gently rub it, he sat perfectly still.
Time to rinse.
He freaked out again...but it didn't last long at all this time.
I never stopped talking to him.
He was getting better and better as I worked.
Now to rinse the head.
Yes, he freaked for the head again.
Yes, he turned his face right into the water... a couple of times.
Each time I toweled the water away from his nose and started again.
I let him hang onto my arm for dear life.
He eventually let me rinse his face.
I had the water pressure as low as it would go.
It took longer to rinse the face, but the lower pressure of the water did not scare him as much.
I am sure that it will take a few bathes to get him to fully trust me.
He did a number on my arm, (one reason why I do not clip nails before the bath) but by the end of the bath he was calm and no longer shaking.
He just needed someone to take the extra time with him.
To show him that a bath does not have to be scary.
Now lets see about the dryer....
I kept the HV on low.
I dried him in my arms.
That is where he felt the safest.
There was noway he was going to let me use the HV past his shoulders.
So I used the hand dryer to dry his neck, head and front legs.
He was actually pretty good for that.
I did have to brush his head, face and legs very slow and gently, but he let me do it.
He was scared of the clippers, so I turned them on and let him smell them.
He let me clip his body with the #4F blade.
There was no way that clipper was getting anywhere near his legs.
I wasn't going to push it either.
He would have little freakouts every once in a while, but I was always able to talk him down.
I wasn't about to ruin it all by trying to clip his legs.
So, I scissored his legs.
He was still touchy about the legs, but he let me scissor them close to a #4 length.
It wasn't the best scissor job, but I was happy with whatever he would let me do without freaking out.
Best of all, he wasn't shaking at all anymore, and he was giving me kisses. :)
Look how good he was for having his head scissored.
Why couldn't the other groomer finish his head?
At this point I am not happy with the other groomer at all.
What had this dog been going through to make him so freaked out about the grooming when obviously he could be really good for the grooming with a little extra TLC.
It is not a perfect groom.
I know that the legs need to be scissored a little more, but I think that he has had enough.
I think that he looks happy and relaxed too.
Just the way he should look after a grooming.
I wish that all groomers would take the extra time when needed to help a dog through his fears.
It pays off in the long run.
Some dogs will always be scared of parts of the grooming process, no matter how hard you try to help them through it.
Some dogs just have that type of personality.
It upsets me that this dog may have been having bad grooming experiences for the last three years.
It also upsets me that the owners may have listened to the other groomer and tranquilized this little guy for grooming the rest of his life.
His owner made another appointment for six weeks.
I will most likely have to start over again.
Hopefully he will remember me grooming him before, and will not be as upset the next time.
I expect this little guy to get better with every grooming.
Oh...yes, his owner was very surprised that his head and legs were groomed, and that I finished him.
Sometimes being a groomer can really make you feel good.
It can make you feel like you did something good. :)
Happy Grooming, MFF