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.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What Would You Do? #2

I'll tell you what I feel like doing after the last couple of days of grooming.....is have a nervous breakdown.

I have mentioned before that I like grooming hard to handle dogs, and I really do, but too many in a short amount of time will do anyone in.

I am done in.

I have had four hard to handle dogs in the last 2 days.
I am not talking about dogs that don't stand up, or dogs that are wiggly, or dogs that fight you a little while you groom them.

Two of the dog are 'go for blood' biters.
The Shih-tzu I have been grooming for a few years now.
When I first started grooming the Shih-tzu, he lunged for my face 30 seconds after I put him on my table.
I pulled my face away just in time.
I felt his teeth skim the tip of my nose.

That was 3 or 4 years ago.
I have gone from having to muzzle him for the total groom, to only having to muzzle him for his feet and nails now.
Funny, even though we seem to have a mutual respect for each other, and he now lets me bathe him, clip his body and legs, and scissor his face without trying to eat me, when he does get pissed, (which is when I groom his feet and nails) he still 'goes for blood' even with the muzzle on.
He has managed to nail me, even through the muzzle, a couple of times.
But, even with all of that, I still would have rather groomed him a couple times in a row then groom the Bichon I had after him.

The Bichon that I groomed after the Shih-tzu yesterday is a sweet dog and she is not a biter.
So, why would I rather groom the biter?
Because, I know what to expect from him.
I have learned all of the little things that set him off.

The Bichon.
She is 5 or 6 years old.
Her Mom had been home grooming her.
Yesterday was only her second professional grooming.
Of course she is very scared and nervous.
She is also suicidal!
She is the type of dog that will give you several heart attacks during the grooming.
She jerks towards your scissors.
She will stand beautifully, then with no warning, she will have a panic attack.
I am talking flip backwards and freaking out.
You must be prepared at all times to pull the scissors or clipper away in case she moves the wrong way and stabs herself. 
You must talk her down before you can start again.
Yes, that sweet little Bichon is so nerve racking to groom that I would rather groom the biter.

It was only her second time, and her Mom is faithfully making every 4 week appointments for her, so I am sure that over time she will get better.
I just hope 'over time' is in the next few groomings. :/

As I said before, that was yesterday.

Today I had two more.
One, and elderly, biting Cocker.
Most of the time, working slowly, I am able to get her groomed without pissing her off.
Some of her triggers are rubbing soap on her legs, rubbing her with a towel, scissoring her feet, and clipping her nails.
If I am very careful and work slowly, we do okay.
But, if I somehow touch her the wrong way...watch out!
She goes for blood.
Even if you move away, she will chase your hands and search out something to bite, and it is not just one quick bite.
If she catches hold, she will gnaw on you like a steak bone.

She wants blood!

You also have to give her a minute to cool down before you can touch her again.
Once she has cooled down you can go on with the groom, but you have blown it, because she is watching you very closely now and ready to go after you if you do something wrong again.
Most of the time I can get through grooming her without pissing her off.
Today I pissed her off trying to shave mats out of her armpits.
I moved away fast enough, her teeth only skimmed the knuckles of my hand.
But I had to stop this time and calm myself down.

I had had it.

I was ready for a nervous breakdown.
I was ready to get rid of all my special needs groom dogs, because right before this Cocker, I groomed this guy.

He had already taken 5 years off of my life.

Looks easy enough doesn't he?

He is 14 years old, and today was his very first professional grooming.

Looks darn good for 14 doesn't he.

His owner brought him in now because he said that it was taking 3 people to hold him down and groom him.


His owner did not think that I would be able to groom him.

After the owner finished filling out the new customer information sheet, I asked him what he wanted me to do.

"Whatever you can do," he told me.
"How would you like me to cut his hair?" I asked.
"Whatever you can do, it takes 3 people to hold him down, I don't know how you are going to do this," he told me, shaking his head.
"Well, if he will let me, would you like half of his hair off or shorter?" I tried again.
"Whatever you can do. I can't believe he is letting you hold him like that, I don't understand it," he said pointing at his dog resting in my arms.
"He has stopped shaking, I think he will be fine," I tell him.
"So, do you know how short you would like his hair?" I try again for the third time.
"Whatever you can do. I guess short, we have never had him short before," he told me, again shaking his head.

I admit, I gave up.
"I'll call you when I finish him," I told him and watched him walk out the door.

As you can see from the picture below, his owners had already been chopping on his coat.

 He did really well for the bath.

I packed his ears with cotton before using the HV at half power to dry him.

I was prepared for him to reject the HV but he didn't, he did very well.

All good signs, right?

If I only knew what was coming.

What kind of clip would you have done?

I decided to clip him with a #4f blade.

I knew that the blade would glide though most of his hair and not take a lot off.

The only problem was that he had a couple different types of hair.

Around his neck and hips he had a thicker, plushier type of hair that the blade took shorter than the rest of the body.

No problem I thought, he was doing really good with the clipping, I would just use my scissors and thinning shears to blend in the neck and hips.

I would also scissor the legs, because his owner had told me that he really didn't like his legs and feet touched.

He had let me soap up his legs and feet.
He had let me dry his legs and feet with the HV.
He had let me brush and blow dry his legs to fluff them up.

Now, he hadn't been perfect up until this point.
He was very nervous and I had to talk him through everything, but talking was really helping, and it definitely calmed him down.
He also liked to constantly back up and suddenly twist, but all of that was mild.

Then I started to scissor his front leg.
I say started, because all I managed was one snip before this cute little dog lost it.
His reaction was so unexpected, quick, and violent, that the next thing I knew his entire front leg was inside my open scissors... and I froze.
I was able to quickly grab his leg with my other hand and pull it away from the open scissors.
I pulled the scissors away from him only to have him suddenly turn in my hand and bite down on my now closed scissors in my other hand.
All of this happened within seconds.

Oh, lets not forget my heart attack too, and the five years off of my life that i will never get back.

After checking his leg and mouth, I put the scissors away.

No scissors!

So much for blending the neck and hips.

 So, I skimmed his legs with the Moser.

I still had to talk him through this.

He definitely did not like the hair on his legs and feet cut.

What have his owners been doing to him?

Oh, that's right....three people had been pinning him down to groom him!

Once I had talked him through skimming the first leg, he calmed down and excepted it for the rest of his legs.

I used the Moser to skim everything that I would normally scissor.

For the most part he did pretty well.

The scary times were his sudden backups and twists.

He never stayed still for too long.

All that was left was the head.

Would you take a chance with the scissors on his head and face?

His face was pretty chopped up already by the owner, so I figured that they had used scissors on his face.

Believe me, I was very careful with my first cut using the scissors on his face.

Thankfully, he let me scissor his face, although he did jerk his head out of my hands about a half a dozen times before I finished scissoring it.

But, I got him groomed.
It only took me one and a half hours. :/

I was drained.
I was ready to go home.

He was my first dog of the day.

Up next...the biting Cocker.

Is it the weekend yet?

Yes, it is, BUT I work on Saturday.
And, guess what?

My first dog tomorrow is a special needs dog.
Apparently a biter.

Shoot me now!

Where are they coming from?
How do they find me?

Is it too much to ask for just one day of simple grooms?

Is it crazy for me to say that I am hoping that the new dog tomorrow is a biter and not a suicidal dog?

Wish me luck! :)

Oh, one more thing...the daughter picked up the Yorkie.
Apparently Dad didn't tell her that he asked me to take her dog short.
She wasn't upset, she just was not prepared for the short cut.
She was happy that I was able to groom her dog. 

See D, I don't even take my own advice and get a questionable owner to sign grooming instructions to cover my bu**. lol

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. I have such respect for groomers who have been grooming for the amount of time you have. After grooming for 5 years, I'm literally throwing in the towel. June will be my last month of grooming. The reason for that, is because of the dogs that you have described in this entry. lol. My nerves are so shot from grooming dogs like this, that I cannot be next to one, even if someone else is grooming it. I get so anxious and shaky, the girls in the salon know not to book them with me because I will turn it away. Who wants to risk that? I have to suggest a veterinarian for those kinds of dogs. I bow to you for your years of endurance!!!!

  2. The yorkie people should be thrilled and very grateful for how cute he turned out and with no bloody wounds either :)

  3. Sounds like you have a reputation of being able to handle hard cases...thats why they find you. I hope you are charging at least double for these.

  4. Hi Chassy,
    I am so sorry to hear that you will be moving on from grooming. Five years seems to be the average career time for a lot of groomers. If it isn't the dogs that drive them out of the business it is the owners.
    I have gone through a few burnouts over the years. I even stopped grooming for about 3 months, because of a really abusive boss. Then I couldn't wait to get back.
    I will admit that this past week was a little unusual for me. I don't usually have so many special needs dogs one after another like that. We try really hard not to have more than one problem dog a day, and only a few a week. For some reason they have really been coming out of the woodwork lately.
    I will also say that you definitely have to get yourself into a certain mind set to deal with the crazies. Maybe after a little time off you may reconsider. :)
    I wish you luck in whatever career that you decide upon.
    Lisa, MFF

  5. Thanks NancyKav!

    Hi Anonymous,
    Charging double?????? I wish!!!! lol

    Lisa, MFF

  6. I have a similar week starting monday to look forward to. Lets just say I am happy that I am going on a 3 day weekend vacation after work on Friday because I have a feeling I will need it.

  7. Since I work at petco, we get all the crazies because most of the private salons in the area turn them away. Its a real treat to get a nice well behaved dog. I felt bad yesterday because I had 2 maltipoos that were sweet dogs, just horrible for any grooming on their face and feet, it took me so long to finish them both that the appointment afterwards didnt get started till way late. The dog was so sweet giving me kisses in the tub but the owner got there and needed to take the dog right after i finished bathing it because she was leaving the country. I felt so bad, I shouldve done her dog first and done the bad one afterwards, I had no idea they would take that long though. Oh and about signing off for dog haircuts, I make the owner sign 3 different things in the case of matted dogs and what kind of haircut they will receive, AND i show them pictures or dogs already in the salon so they can see how short it is. But since i work for a corporation that says "if your unsatisfied you can get your money back" THEY CAN STILL GET THEIR MONEY BACK! ughhhhh its so frusterating all that hard work for nothinggggg!!!

  8. Also, how many dogs can you generally do in an 8 hour shift? And if Ive been grooming for a year, how many should I be able to do by now?

  9. Hi Peggan,
    I hope your week has been going okay. :) Have a great time on your vacation!!

    Hi -D,
    I do not agree AT ALL with the return policy. So not fair to the groomers.
    As for the number of dogs that I groom in a day....long gone are the many years of grooming 10 to 12 dogs a day. My average day now is 6 to 7. I groom a lot of special needs and difficult dogs now, and they take extra time. :/
    Lisa, MFF