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, September 28, 2012


I have always considered myself to be a fairly observant person.
Of course, after the cord thing with my cordless clipper, I began to have doubts.

After today I am convinced that I am not the least bit observant.
I may actually be oblivious to things around me.

Here goes...another embarrassing moment.

I bought this blade at Groom Expo.

I had never seen this blade before.

I had no idea that there was a #4 1/2 blade.

Maybe if I read the grooming catalogs more often I would see the new blades that come out, but I usually wait to look at new things for grooming at Hershey.

Anyway, I bought just one to try it, because I bought a #6 blade last year and I am not crazy about it.

I was very curious about the #4 1/2 blade.

Now, for some reason I automatically thought that this blade was going to cut hair a little longer than a regular #4F blade.

I didn't even think twice about it.
Maybe it was the 1/2 that made me think that it was going to leave the hair longer.

I used it a couple of times on dogs that normally got the #4F blade and I really liked it.
I didn't see that much of a difference than the #4F.
I had used it on two Shih-tzus, and it did a nice job.

Then I used it on a mix breed with a much thicker coat than the Shi-Tzus.
It did a really nice smooth cut on the dog, but I did noticed that it had taken the coat just a tad shorter.

So I compared the blade that I normally used on the dog, (a #4F) and the #4 1/2.

They look pretty much the same, but obviously the 1/2 meant shorter than the regular #4F.

Of course, if I had looked at the blades closer I would have seen that the #4F blade is a 9.5mm cut, and the #4 1/2F blade is a 7.9mm cut.

So what was really the point of making a 4 1/2 blade?

Someone in the Andis offices just wanted to drive groomers crazy?

Aren't we nuts enough?

 Then I happened to look at another one of my #4F blades.

Do you notice something different from the other #4F blade in the above picture? (other than the fact that it is a Buttercut)
(I hate Buttercut blades)

The #4F above is a 9.5mm cut, the #4F on the right is a 9mm cut.


I decided to check out a couple other blades.

This Wahl #5F is a 6mm cut.

This Andis #5FC blade is a 6.3mm cut.

This older Andis #5FC blade is a 5mm cut.

This  Oster #7F blade is a 3mm cut.

This Andis #7FC blade is a 4mm cut.

This Wahl #7F blade is a 3.8mm cut.

Whats with that?
Do you ever pick up a blade and start to clip the dog only to notice that it doesn't seem to be cutting the length you think it should on that coat.
Then you pick up another blade of the same length and that one seems to cut the coat better.
Is this why?

I mean really....I know that these blades are from different companies, but why  can't they each have the same millimeter cut?
Of course, we are only talking about anywhere from a .3mm to a 1mm difference.

It still makes me wonder though.

To be honest I have not really paid that much attention to the cut measurements on the blade, or the fractions listed in the catalogs, because I learned very quickly, when I first started grooming, that the same blade will leave different lengths of hair on a dog depending on the coat type.

Like today, I had two Yorkies, one with a very thick, plushy coat, and one with a thin, silky coat.
The #4F blade took the thick, plushy coat fairly short.
The same blade glided through the thin, silky coat only taking a small amount of hair off, leaving a longer cut.
That is why I have never paid much attention to the cut measurements on the blades, and never noticed the difference before....in 28 years. :/

Well, that sounds like a good enough excuse for me being so unobservant. 

At least that is what I am going to tell myself anyway.

Oh...one last thing...the next time a customer comes in, and you ask them if they want the same cut as last time, and they tell you; "just take him a tad shorter."

The #4 1/2FC is a tad shorter than the #4F.

An Andis #5FC (5mm) is a tad shorter than a Wahl #5F (6mm).

An Oster #7F (3mm) is a tad shorter than a Andis #7FC (4mm).

I have to go now.

I think that my head is going to explode.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Early Day.....Unplanned

We have all had them.
Those unplanned early days.
You get up in the morning, syncing yourself up for a full day of dogs, because the last time that you checked, before you left work the day before, you had a full day of dogs on the books.

Or, in my case, we already knew that we lost two dogs for today, because when my husband called to remind the customer of their appointment for today, the first thing he heard was the; "oh, I meant to call you"

It turned out that this customer had to work and could no longer keep the appointment for her two dogs.
Sadly she knew this for a few days...but she meant to call.

A lot of times this is not a problem, because we still had some time to call someone off of the waiting list, only....there was nobody waiting for today. :/
 Then right before you close for the day, one of the customers that you left a reminder call for calls. 

"I was going to call you," is the first things he says.
He was calling to cancel his appointment, because he got his dog groomed Saturday, because he could not wait till today...Wednesday.
Oh, one side note...we last groomed the dog 5 months ago, soooooo she certainly could not wait 4 more days.
And, we were open all day Tuesday but,.....he was going to call.
So, we went to work today knowing that we did not have a full day.

Sometimes that is okay too, because even though you hate losing the money, the thought of possibly getting finished early and having some extra time to yourself can be very appealing.
So, you can be upset and happy at the same time.
I think only a groomer can understand this kind of logic.

Then we get to work.
The phone rings within 5 minutes of opening.
"Hi, C**** won't be coming today, because she has been sick."
You sincerely wish the dog well and tell the customer no problem.
At the same time, you are trying really hard to bite your tongue, and not ask why, if the dog has been sick for awhile, why did you wait till the day of the appointment to call?

Are you keeping count?

That would be 4 appointments lost for the day so far.


I said so far.....we were not done yet.

Besides the late cancellations, we had to throw a No-Show in the mix too.

A new customer who said that they would be here when called yesterday to remind.

Five lost appointments that could have gone to other customers.

30% of the grooming day gone.

Someones pay is effected.

The business is effected.

What are groomers to do?

How do you make your customers understand that they need to respect you and your time?

How do you get them to understand that when they cancel an appointment too late to replace it, or they just don't show up, that it effects the groomer and the grooming business?

Thankfully, a day like today does not happen very often.

I honestly believe that most customers just don't get it.
I used to be one of them.
Before I became a groomer, I would have an occasional appointment that I forgot.... say an hair appointment.
Even though I had that darn reminder card right on the refrigerator, I would forget about the appointment.
When I remembered, I would just call for another.
It never once crossed my mind that I might be messing up the hairdressers day, or the salons business.
No big deal, just make another appointment.

Of course I am much better now.
I don't miss appointments now, and I make sure to call well ahead of time if I need to change something.

I truly believe that a lot of customers don't think that it is any problem missing an appointment, especially a dog grooming appointment.
It's just a dog after all.
How hard can it be to groom a dog?

I have no problem when a customer has to cancel last minute, because of a true emergency, or they truely have car trouble, or were called into work without notice.
It is the people who knew well ahead of time that they could not keep the appointment, and didn't call that bother me.

I think some of the cancellations that bother me the most are the customers that wait to call 5 minutes after their dogs appointment to say; "he doesn't need a haircut yet, he still looks nice. Can you make another appointment for next week instead?"
Then they get mad at me, because I don't have an appointment for next week, and they will have to wait 4 weeks to two months for another appointment.

Sometimes you feel like you just can't win.
Even reminder calls are not a guarantee that all of your appointments will show up.

I don't believe in charging a missed appointment fee.
Yes, the customer made you lose money, but I still don't think it is right to take money when you didn't groom the dog.
I know that a lot of other groomers will not agree with me, but that is okay.
It is my business and my own personal opinion.

Every time I see a sign at a business that says that they charge for missed appointments, I always ask them how well it works for them.
Not one of them tells me that it changes anything, and just about everyone of them say that they never collect, and the customer just goes somewhere else.

I will say that the last couple of years the late cancellations and no-shows have gotten worse.
So much so, that I actually thought about not letting my customers schedule for the year like 90 % of them have gotten used to doing.
I feel that they don't appreceate the work that goes into making all of those appointments.
But, that is not entirly true, because most of my customers do keep their appointments.
As with so many other things, it only takes a few to mess things up for everyone else.

Did you know that the first day of every month the Military opens their phone lines up for Vets to make doctor appointments for that month?
Once the month is filled up (usually within the first two days) they stop taking appointments till the first of the next month.
What do you think that my customers would think of that?

The Tattoo parlor that my daughter and son go to makes you put down $50 to make an appointment. (the lowest cost of a tatoo)
If you don't show for the appointment, they keep the money.
If you keep your appointment, the $50 goes towards the total cost of the tattoo.
What do you think my customers would think of that?

Well, of course we are letting our customers book up for the whole next year as usual, but this time I am doing something a little different.


Every year we send out forms for our customers to fill out if they want to make next years appointments in advance.

Along with this form, we send a cover letter.
I usually use the cover letter to explain the form, to tell the customer when we want the form back, and any other new news that I would like them to know.

After years of sending out this form and cover letter, I have noticed that most of my customers don't even bother to read the cover letter anymore.

They see the form, fill it out, and send it back.

I have talked about late cancellations and no-shows in the cover letter before, but since I don't think that my customers are even reading it, I am going to do something different this year.

We usually have our customers new schedules, for the next year, ready to go by the first of December. (thanks to a lot of hard work on my daughters part)

This year I will be stapling another letter to their grooming schedule.

It will be about keeping these appointments, late cancellations, no-shows, and respecting our time.

I will try to make it straight and to the point without sounding preachy.

I also don't care if I sound like I am begging them to respect me and my time.

I want them to understand the harm that late cancellations and no-shows can do to a groomer and a small business.

I have not written the letter yet.
I will most likely write several drafts before I am happy with it.
When I finish writing it I will post it here to see what all of you think, and to use it yourselves if you like it.

The next thing to tackle?
Customers who arrive late for their appointments....very late.

I can't worry about that right now.
At least they showed up for their appointment. :/

I'll tackle late arrivals when I fix late cancellations and no-shows.

The only problem....that may not happen in my lifetime. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Grooming Tables!....Finally!

I have to say that I have groomed on a number of different grooming tables over the years.

The grooming school that I went to had several different tables.
 The ones that I remembered the most were the homemade ones.
I liked them, because they were smaller and higher than the others.
None of the tables had grooming poles for grooming loops.

After grooming school, I groomed at a Vet/Kennel.
Compared to the grooming school that I went to, that place was state of the art.
There was a stainless steel tub. (that was way to deep)
Stainless steel cages that came with stainless steal cage crates that I hated, because at least one dog, everyday, got a toe caught in them.
And, real (fold up) grooming tables that came with grooming arms and loops that kennel owner insisted that we use with every dog.

Then I helped a friend open a grooming salon.
He had the folding grooming tables also, but he also bought something that I thought was the greatest thing a the time.

Leg extenders, made especially for fold up grooming tables.
You took the little black cups off of the end of the table legs and put on the leg extenders.
You could raise the height of your table at least six more inches.
You had to manually raise and lower each leg, and eyeball it to balance your table, but I loved those things.
They really helped my back. 

My next grooming job, I went back to another homemade wooden table covered with a mat.
How I missed those leg extenders.

All of the fold up grooming tables only stood about 30 to 32 inches high.
I spent so much of my early grooming career bending over a table.

When hydraulic grooming tables first came on the seen, there was no way that I could afford to get one of them, much less replace the 4 grooming tables that I had in my shop at the time.

When I worked out of my grooming van, it was the first time that I used a hydraulic table.
I got spoiled very fast.
When I opened my shop again, I wanted a hydraulic table, but still could not afford one.
I was having another baby and could not afford a new table.

About a year later I got the big orange monster.

A hydraulic table cart from Harbor Freight Tools.

I bought a table cart instead of a real hydraulic grooming table for one simple reason.

It was under $200 twelve years ago.

It gave me 12 years of great service.

The orange monster till works, but she has been acting up lately.

Not only that, but last year at Hershey, when I competed in creative, I was given an electric grooming table to use on stage.

I feel in love.

One of the drawbacks of my hydraulic table cart was that when I would pump it up, some of the dogs would get scared of the jerky movement.
Also, if I lowered the table while a dog was on it, it would sometimes go down too fast and scare the dog.

I wanted an electric grooming table.

My daughter wanted a new table.
She was still working on my old grooming table (from the 1800's) with the leg extenders, and she hated manually adjusting the height when she went from grooming a small/medium dog to a large dog.

We spent some time at Groom Expo looking at grooming tables.
Some were way out of our price range.

The ones that we settled on were not the cheapest, but were on show special and we got two shipped for the price of one.
I could have gotten hydraulic tables for less, but I really wanted the electric.

The tables came about a week after Groom Expo.

The delivery guy could not get the pallet through our door so he dropped them outside.

My son and husband took the wrapper off and carried the boxes into the shop.

I was a little surprised to see so many boxes.

There were 8 boxes.

You have to put everything together nowadays. 

 It was very easy, all I had to do was put on the wheels and the table top.

I did not put on the grooming arm.

It is deeper than my orange monster, but I will be using my backboard on it so I don't have to reach across the table to dogs that like to hug the wall.

One problem that I had with my other table was that I was always cleaning hair out of the hydraulics.

I wanted to keep all of the mechanics of this table as hair free as I can.

You might think that I am crazy, but I went out and bought a shower curtain.

Some industrial strength Velcro.

I took the large pieces.....

....and cut them into smaller pieces.

 I put the Velcro around the frame, under the table top.

I made sure that the curtain was up tight against the underneath of the table top.

I cut the curtain almost to the floor.

I did the same with Jessica's table.

Now, I know that this will not stop all hair from getting into the mechanics, because we all know that dog hair goes EVERYWHERE, but I have been very happy so far.

The shower curtain is keeping most of the hair away.

It took Jess about a day to remember that she could now easily move her table up and down whenever she wanted.

Me....I still catch myself reaching over to the side of my table trying to turn the knob that lowered the orange monster....and lifting my foot to pump my table up.

We really like our new tables.
It's about time we got some.
By this time next year I should have them paid off. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Friday, September 21, 2012

That's Your Opinion

Some of my readers may remember me talking about an appointment that I  made for a dog that I was warned was a bad biter.

I was told this by one of my long time customers.
She was talking about her neighbors dog.
This customer warned me that her neighbor would be calling me for an appointment, but that I should turn her away because the dog had bitten her, her daughter, her dog, and a couple of other people.

I had no reason not to believe this customer.
As I said, I have been grooming her dogs for a long time and she is a very good customer.

Her neighbor did call that same day.
She never mentioned that her dog had ever bitten anyone when making the appointment.

Yes, I made an appointment for her.
I was very curious about this dog.
I was also curious about whether the owner would admit that their dog was a biter when she brought it in.
I also love the challenge of grooming a problem dog.

I groomed the dog yesterday.

While the owner was filling out the information sheet, I greeted the dog in my lobby.
He did shy away from me at first, but I didn't get any bad vibe off of him.
He did stiffen when I picked him up, but he was also wagging his tail.
I tried to keep my energy very relaxed.
I didn't want him to realize that I was keeping a close eye on any signs that he would suddenly bite.
My other customer had warned me that he could be very friendly, and not give any warning before he bit.

After the dogs owner filled out the new customer information sheet, I started asking questions.
I asked several questions that gave the owner the opportunity to inform me of any problems with her dog, such as biting.

You might be wondering why I didn't just ask her straight up if her dog had ever bitten anyone.

I didn't for two reasons.
One~ she was gushing about how wonderful her dog was the second that I entered the lobby.
She didn't have one bad thing to say about her dog.
She was gushing a little too much.

Two~ I didn't, in any way, want her to know what her neighbor had told me.
I didn't want her to be even a little bit suspicious that her neighbor had told me that her dog had bitten anyone, or that she had recommended that I not groom the dog.

At this point it really didn't matter whether the dog had bitten anyone or not.
I had decided to groom this dog when I let her make an appointment.

He turned out to be a really good dog.

He was what I call 'a watcher'.

He liked to watch everything that I was doing to him, which for me is one of the signs of a potential biter.

So, I worked slowly and talked to him the entire grooming.

I told him everything that I was about to do.

Did I say that he turned out to be a very good boy.

He was a little touchy about having his nails clipped, but he never tried to bite me.

I really appreciate that my other customer cared enough to warn me about this dog.

She kept telling me that she didn't want me to get hurt.

Do I still believe that this dog did all of the biting that she said that it did?

Yes, I do believe her.
I do think that if this dog is approached the wrong way, it would fear bite.
By the wrong way, I mean sudden moves.

I certainly do not recommend that all groomers groom biting dogs.
Not all groomers have extra time to spend on a biting dog.
If you are a groomer that stresses too easily, you should turn away biting dogs.
An employer also should never make a groomer groom a biting dog if they are uncomfortable doing so.

At one of the events at Groom Expo this year, I had another groomer actually get mad at me for grooming biting dogs.
One of the reasons that I like going to Groom Expo is being able to talk to other groomers.
Only, there are other times that you meet groomers that don't mind telling you that they don't agree with how you groom.

I have to say that I was pretty disturbed after talking to these two groomers.
First, they asked about my prices.
I didn't mind telling them what I charged for a medium size dog.
They were very quick to let me know that I was 'cheep' compared to what they charge, and they seemed angry about it too.

This has always driven me crazy.

I notice it on the grooming boards from time to time also.
Groomers giving other groomers a hard time because they think that the other groomer is not charging enough.
Prices vary from state to state and even county to county.
I have had customers tell me that I am too high, and I have also had customers tell me that they were charged a lot more somewhere else.
My prices are basically the same as other groomers around me.
Both of the groomers that I was talking to were from higher income areas.

One of the two groomers that I was talking to really got upset that I was grooming biting dogs.

"You shouldn't be taking biting dogs," he told me firmly.
"I like the challenge of grooming biting dogs," I told him.
"Why?" he asked, looking at me like I was nuts.
"Because most of the time I have no problem with them, and the others usually stop biting by the second or third time that I groom them," I explained.
Now he was really disgusted with me.
"What do you do?" he said, very sarcastically. "Sprinkle them with magic fairy dust?"

He wasn't finished.

"If your prices were higher you wouldn't have to take everything that walked in the door," he said not even looking at me anymore.
"I don't have to take anything that walks in the door," I told him, with a smile on my face, even though I didn't feel like smiling anymore. "Most of my customers book a year in advance, and there is a two month wait for the rest of the appointments that are left."

At this point I didn't care if I sounded like I was tooting my own horn, he had pissed me off.

What did it matter to him whether I groomed biting dogs or not?
And why did he automatically think that I was a struggling groomer just because my prices were not as high as his, and I groomed biting dogs?
I had never run into groomers like this before at Groom Expo.

I am very proud that I am skilled enough to work safely with biting dogs.
I certainly don't judge other groomers for not wanting to work on biting dogs.
I was not the least bit prepared for another groomer to get so upset and mean about the fact that I groomed biting dogs.

Sorry, that turned into a small rant. :/

Oh well, that's is why I own my own shop...I do it my way. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF