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, June 29, 2012

More Evidence

I had more evidence in the other day that clipping a double coated breed just one time can ruin its coat for life.

This seven year old Pom came in the other day.

It was the first time we ever groomed her.

She had not been professionally groomed in a long time because her owners were too afraid to take  her to another groomer.

The only reason that they brought her to me was because my Vet talked them into bring her to me.

Apparently, the Poms owner had dropped her dog off to be groomed as usual one day.
Unbeknown to the owner, her regular groomer no longer worked at this particular shop.
The Pom was to get its usual bath, brush out, and neaten the feet.

When the owners daughter picked up her dog she was handed a shaved Pom.
The daughter started crying and swore that it was not her dog.

The owner called the grooming shop after her daughter brought the dog home.
She asked why they shave her dog.
She was told that the grooming ticket said that her dog was to only be trimmed.
"That is what they were supposed to do, but they shaved her!!"

The groomer was put on the phone.
"Why did you shave my Pomeranian?" the owner asked.
"Because, that is what I do with all of my Pomeranian customers,"  the groomer told her very matter of fact.

I didn't know what to say.
I don't like to talk against other groomers.
At the same time I don't understand it.

This is not the first time that I have heard of groomers grooming their customers dogs the way that they think the dog should look, not the way the customer wants.
I have even had a couple of groomers who worked for me that I had to argue with to get them to groom the dog the way the owner wanted, not the way they wanted to do the dog.

Sure, I have dogs come in a lot that I would like to groom one way, but the owner wants something else.
I do what the owner wants. (within reason)

Fast forward to today.

After work today my daughter and I went to pick up dog food from the 'super pet store'.
While we were waiting in line to check out, I was watching the groomers.
One young lady was shaving a Golden, and I mean shaving.
As far as I could tell she was using a 10 or 15 blade.
This Golden was not a thick coated Golden.

The Goldens coat was a lot like this one.

I wanted to go in the grooming room and ask if that is really what the owner asked to be done.

I wanted to so bad.

But, I didn't want to piss the groomer off, and my daughter would have killed me.

I really, truly wanted to ask, because I have never had a Golden owner come in ask me to shave their golden like that.

Cut their Golden short...yes, but not shave.

I  have had owners use the word 'shave', but after more questions, they never truly want the dog shaved.

I really, really want to know.
Did the Golden owner realize just how short their dog was going to be shaved?
What are most of the reactions of owners when they see their Goldens shaved that short?
Are they shaving the Golden because that is the only thing that they know to do?

Boy, I wish that groomers would talk to each other. :/
I don't want to step on toes, or get my head chopped off for that matter.

So anyway, I am glad that the Pom owner decided to take another chance on having her Pomeranian professionally groomed.

She still has a lot of bald spots under that long hair.

And her undercoat no longer blows out.
It has to be brushed out.

She cleans up nice.

Her coat is nothing like it was before she was shaved.

Her owner showed me a picture of what her coat used to look like.

Her coat was absolutely gorgeous.

It still amazes me that some double coats can be clipped over and over again before the damage is done, then others are damaged after just one shave.

Oh well, it is just something I have always wondered.
Maybe one day I'll go in and ask.
I just have to figure out a way of doing it without offending anyone. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What Would You Do? Poodle shave

I know that a lot of groomers who read this blog will most likely laugh at me for this post.

I also know that there are a lot of groomers out there that don't think twice about shaving dogs down with a # 10, 15 or even a 30 blade.

I was taught that way in Grooming School.
Almost every dog that walked in the door was clipped with a #7, 10, or 15 blade.

My grooming has changes big time over the years.

I can honestly say that 80% of my furry customers get clip comb or hand scissor grooms.
Fifteen percent  get a full body clip with a #4f or #5F blade.
Less than 5% get are clipped with a #10 or #15 blade, and those are a few style clips (Cocker, Schnauzer) where the owner likes the body very, very short.

I don't even use a #10 or #15 blade on my matted messes.

As of yesterday this little guy was the only dog that I groom that gets shaved with a #15 blade.

I actually think that if I told this owner I could go shorter, he would have me do it.

Needless to say, I hate the shaved look on a dog.

But, I will shave a dog if the owner wants it and understand exactly what they are asking for.

Okay, back to today.

This little lady came in today.

It was her third or fourth time in.

Each time she has come in the owner has asked to clip her one blade shorter.

The last time that she was clipped, she was clipped with a #7 blade.

Today her owner wanted her shaved like the 'Show Poodles', but without the fancy cut.
"I want her as short as you shave the feet."

Got that?

Do you understand what she is asking for?

That's right.

The owner wanted us to clip her dogs body the same length that we shave the feet.

We shave our Poodle feet with a #40 blade.

So....What would you do?

Would you shave this little Poodle with a #40 blade?

Did we?


I refuse to shave a pets body with a #40 blade.

I am just not going to do it.

I am not going to have that dog go home and run a skinned body on the carpet and get a phone call that we clipper burned the dog.

Of course the same thing could happen with a clip using the #15 blade.

We told the owner that we would clip the body with a #15 blade.
The same blade that we use on the face, just not against the grain.
We also warned the owner that because her dog was a light color with light pigment, there was a chance that the dog could get 'clipper irritation'.
Not clipper 'burn'.
They are two different things.

We warned her not to let the dog rub on the carpet or furniture.

We also decided to shave the body before the bath so that we could let her soak in a medicated bath.

Just in case her skin was very sensitive to being shaved so close.

She is so sweet.

The poor little thing looked so skinned. :(

Jessica did a great job.

Did the owner realize what she was asking for?

Did the owner like the cut?

She loved it!

It was perfect, just what she wanted.

To each their own.

So, would you have shaved her with a #40 blade?

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesdays Tip #44 Sprayer

I am not sure if this really qualifies as a tip, but here it goes anyway.

I don't know about other groomers out there, but I am always on the lookout for a good sprayer for bathing dogs.

There are three 'must haves' when I am picking out a sprayer.

 1~ It must have a shower setting.

I feel that the shower setting is a gentle setting, but still has enough pressure to do a good job rinsing.

Some shower settings on some sprayers seem to have more pressure than others.

This sprayer has a wide, round shower setting.


2~ It must have a pressure regulator.

I used the pressure regulator a lot!

I love being able to lighten the pressure of the spray for dogs that are scared, or elderly, or puppies.

The lower I can get it the pressure the better

 3~ It must have the on/off lever under the sprayer, not behind.

I have issues with my hands.
My hands tend to cramp up if I have to hold something tightly for any amount of time.
I am sure that this issue was caused by years of brushing and de-matting coats before the bath.
I spent hours and hours and hours brushing dogs in my early years of grooming. :/

Sprayers that have the on/off lever on the back of the sprayer require your hand to squeeze harder then when the lever is on the the front, under the sprayer head.

I also like a sprayer that is not too big and bulky.

The sprayer above is similar to the one I have been using the last couple of years.
Unfortunately, these sprayers don't stand up very well to being used for 8 to 9 hours a day, all day, five days a week.
We seem to go through 2 to 3 a year.

They are also considered a seasonal item for the stores, even home improvement stores.
So I stock up on them every spring.

This past spring I could not find the sprayer that I have been buying anywhere.
All of the ones in the stores had the on/off lever in the back.

We found one very cheaply made sprayer that had a locking front lever.
That sprayer worked okay, but only lasted about 2 months.

I was getting desperate.

A few weeks ago I made a trip to my local country hardware store to see what they had.

I found the sprayer in the pictures above.
It was not exactly like the one I had been using, but it was close.
The only problem was that it came in a three pack with two other sprayers.
Two other sprayers that I couldn't use, or need.

I bought three sets anyway.

Remember, I said that I was desperate.

The cheap sprayer that we were using was starting to blowup.
I was threatening to steal sprayers off of my Self-Serve tubs.

Well, someone was looking out for me. :)
You know how you seem to find things when you least expect to?

Sunday my son and I were out doing my Sunday round-a-round shopping.
We stopped in a Sporting store that is next to the old Grocery store that I used to go to all of the time, until their prices skyrocketed last year.

Anyway, as we were leaving the Sporting store, I decided to walk down to my old Grocery store to pick up some insulated grocery bags.

Right there by the front door was a garden display.
They had sprayers!
Sprayers that I had not seen before!

No, they didn't have the one that I had been looking for.

They had a different kind of sprayer that did not have the usual on/off lever.
The shower setting was also different from any I had seen before.

My son and I debated whether of not to buy one and try it.
I decided that it would not hurt to try it.
The sprayer was made by a very well known company that makes a lot of different tools and small appliances.
The sprayer also felt very sturdy and well made.


Look, no on/off handle.

The pressure regulator is also the on/ off lever.

Nothing to squeeze!


The shower setting is not a wide circle around the head of the sprayer like the other sprayers.

It is a small square at the top of the sprayer.

I almost didn't buy this sprayer because of that.

So the water only shoots from the top  of the sprayer.

 But, it spreads out into a nice spray with a lot of power.

  Pushing the regulator up turns the sprayer on.

 At the same time, how far up you push the regulator lever up, depends on the water pressure that you desire.

A very low, soft pressure for faces, scary dogs, elderly dogs and puppies.

This  is the pressure up a little more than half way.

This pressure was great for rinsing this Bichon.

That little square spray still covers a nice area.

Rinsing was very quick.

The dog was also very comfortable.

I loved the pressure of the shower setting.

I can't wait to use it with the pressure turned all of the way up on a large, thick, double coated dog.

I haven't had this kind of pressure in a garden sprayer in a long time, if ever.

I like the sprayer so much that I went back to the store after work today and bought the sprayers that they had left.

Five of them at $8 a piece.

I am stashing them away.

For us, not the Self-Serve. ;)

I will use the other sprayers that I bought, a couple of weeks ago, to replace the sprayers in the Self-Serve when needed. :)

I tried to find the sprayers on-line in case anyone would like to try one, but I could not find them anywhere.
I found them at the Weis Grocery here in Maryland.

If you have a Department store that carries Black and Decker tools, they may carry this sprayer.

I think that sprayers are kind of like clippers and scissors, not every groomer likes what another groomer uses, but for $8 it would not hurt to try it if you find one.

I think you would like it. :)


Thanks to MissMarie, here is a link to the sprayer.
It comes with another sprayer on this website and costs a little more than what I stated above, but I still think that it is worth checking out.  

Happy Grooming, MFF

Monday, June 25, 2012


I have gone through a few  'Burnouts' during my grooming career.

The worst burnout that I ever suffered as a groomer almost made me stop grooming completely.
It was caused by a combination of working very long hours, six days a week for awhile, grooming 10 to 12 dogs a day, (sometimes more) and a boss who enjoyed playing mind games and never had your back.

Who would stay at a job like that?

A young/new groomer who didn't know better and didn't think anyone else would hire her.
I actually stopped grooming for a few months.

Then, when I went back to grooming, (because I really missed the dogs) I made the mistake of going Mobile.
It was a mistake at the time, because I was still slow, and mobile grooming was very new to the industry at that time.
I worked for the only Mobile grooming business in Maryland at the time.
She had 3 vans.
No HV dryers.
No gray water tank.
I can't tell you how many time people waved me down to tell me my van was leaking something. :/

Needless to say, I did not last long my first time out mobile grooming.
So I suffered a small burnout that time and quit the mobile.

My next burnout was years later.
Believe it or not, the next burnout was do to my shop growing too big, too fast and employee issues.
How hard could it possibly be to find good employees?


Drama, drama, drama.
I hate drama!

I can't tell you how many groomers I hired only to let them go within a week.
Late for work.
Rough with the dogs.
Arguing about the groom that they are told to do.
Arguing about the prices.
Upset because I refused to pay under the table.
Upset because I would not hire as IC's and took taxes out of their pay.
Told me they could groom six dogs a day, then could hardly finish three.

I had one groomer that did very good rough cuts before the bath, but refused to go over the dog with the clipper after the bath.

I had a another groomer, who was pretty good, quit because my shop hours at the time, (8am-6pm) did not give her enough time to groom five dogs. "I can't work here when you keep banker hours"

I had a bather work for me long enough to have me verify her employment so that she could buy a new car.
Oh, she also wanted me to tell the dealer that she was making twice as much as I was paying her.
I didn't.
They still sold her the car.
Then she walked out the next day.
After bathing a couple of dogs, she said that she was running up to the bakery for a coffee.
She got in her new car and drove away.
She had put the last dog she was bathing away in the kennel with shampoo still on him.

(We called the dealership back and told them that she quit.)

I had another groomer that would walk into work anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half late for work.
On top of that, he asked how much I was charging for  a dog before he would groom it.
If he didn't think the price was enough, he refused to groom it.
Needless to say, he did not work for me for long.

Those were just a few of the groomers that worked for me...if that is what you want to call it.

I have a had a few really good groomers over the years, but there always seems to be personal drama.

I did have three really good groomers, no drama, they were great with the dogs, and nice to work with.
None of them are grooming anymore. :(

So, I 'burned out' on hiring employees.

It has been 12 years since I hired anyone.

Wait, that is not true.
I did hire a friends daughter to be a bather.
She was actually a really good bather and employee, but her personal drama away from work did her in.

That was 4 years ago.

Now I feel another burnout coming on.

I am not sure what to do about this one.

This burnout is because of my customers.
Not the four legged, furry ones, but their owners.

I just don't know what is going on lately.
People seem to be becoming ruder and ruder by the minute.
Even some long time customers that have always been great to work with have become testy.

I have always dealt with customers that will lie to try to get their dogs in sooner for an appointment.
Customers who will tell you that their dog is not matted, or that it is a smaller size so that you will quote them a lower price (over the phone) for the groom.

Lately, it isn't customers complaining  about the grooming, it is rude, petty things...
~showing up late for appointments, I mean 30 minutes or more late.
~picking up dogs after our closing hour.
~fussing that a harness was not put on right, I mean really making a big deal out of it and being nasty.
~canceling an appointment at the last minute and getting mad and rude with us when we can't give them another appointment right away.
~getting nasty because we are booked 8 weeks out, even though they were told to make an appointment before they left with their dog after the last grooming.
~more and more customers seem to be making tactless comments with no care about what they are saying being hurtful.

I don't know...maybe it is just me.
Maybe I have become overly sensitive.
Maybe it is because I can't say what I want back to people.

Last Friday was bad.
If someone had walked up to me, when I was closing me shop at 6:30pm (2 and half hours after my closing time) and asked me if I would like to sell my shop, I would have turned round and handed them the keys right then and there.

I had had it.
And, it was not because of the dogs.


Because of all the reasons I listed above happening  all in the same day!

My daughter took the appointment for this dog.

The owner originally called asking to get an appointment for her Golden.

We only have kennels for three large dogs a day.

I only have three large dog kennels because we don't want to groom more than three large dogs a day.

Our large dog kennels are booked up till October.

When the Golden owner could not get her Golden in for a grooming she asked if we had an appointment for a Spaniel mix.

My daughter asked the owner how large the Spaniel mix was.
The owner told her that the dog was half the size of the Golden.

Now, I don't know about other groomers out there, but when we book for appointments, we try not to book too many big jobs in a day.
Not too many elderly dogs.
Not too many matted dogs.
Not too many once a year dogs, or double coated dogs.

Thankfully we have been open long enough, and are booked up enough that we can be a little picky about the way we plan our days.

Remember...we are trying to avoid burnout!

It would be an understatement for me to say that my daughter was very upset when the owner walked in with a Samoyed mix.
A Samoyed mix packed with undercoat.
A Samoyed mix very close to the size of most of the Goldens that we groom.
A Samoyed that is 13 years old. 

Spaniel mix my bu**!
We were expecting Cocker size.
We were expecting a Cocker size, because that is the way the owner described the dog.

You can't tell me that in the 13 years of owning this dog that no one told her that her dog was mostly Samoyed.

On top of everything else, the owner wanted the dog clipped, but not shaved.
She did not want holes in the coat, down to the skin, like the last groomer did.

So Jessica bathed her and HVed out all of the undercoat.

Then she used a clip comb all over, blending in the head and tail.

It was a day with this dog, a petrified, matted rescue dog with a rude owner...

....a pelted, matted mess that had to be wetclipped.

Late customers dropping off their dogs.

One of the biggest Goldendoodles in the world that takes me 3 hours to groom.

Customers not picking their dogs up before your closing time.

Self serve customer not happy because we wouldn't groom their 90 pound dog the next day.

A customer calling to cancel their appointment 10 minutes before their appointment time, because they were moving that day. (did they just find out they were moving that morning?????)

Oh, and they were upset because they could not get an appointment for the very next week.

I know,  I know, we have all experienced days like this.

I can take days like this once in awhile.

We just seem to be getting these types of days more and more.
I have also been grooming way too many special needs and biting dogs lately.
How do these people find me?

Still four weeks till vacation.

Hopefully that is all that we need....a vacation.

Boy, I really whined today, didn't I?

Friday is still sticking with me.

How do you get through a burnout with your customers?
It is not like I could fire all of them and start over.

I really have to try and concentrate on my nice customers more.

Do you think  hanging a sign on my door saying 'We service only nice customers' would work?


Oh, that's right, nobody reads signs. :/

I'll be okay.
I have lived through burnouts before, I'll do it again. :)

Maybe I need to take some comedy tapes into work.
Some George Carlin, Billy Cosby, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg.

Happy Grooming, MFF