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, November 30, 2012

What Do You Do In The Tub...?

....when you are waiting for a dog to finish soaking in a Medicated shampoo.

I am sure that you know the ones.
The dogs that come in with a shampoo from their Vet.
A shampoo with instructions to let the Medicated shampoo soak for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

It is so hard for a groomer to just stand there and wait for something in such a time oriented job.
I have heard some groomers say that they put the dog up in a kennel to soak while they bathe another dog.
I don't like to do that, because I don't want the dog sitting in a kennel wet and shivering.
I also would not want the dog licking the Medicated shampoo off of their body while they are soaking.

I had a groomer that worked for me awhile back get upset, because I would not let her put another dog in the tub to bathe while the other dog was in the same tub soaking.
For one, the dogs where not even from the same household.
Why would you want to bathe a dog in the same tub with another dog that has skin issues.
This particular groomer saw nothing wrong with what she wanted to do, and was upset that she had to waste time waiting.

 Today I had this guy in.

He has the misfortune of having one of those types of coats where the hair gets very oily between groomings, but his skin is dry and irritated in areas.

So, what would normally be a 5 minute bath on a dog this size, with such a thin coat, turns into a 20 minute bath.

Or, I should say three baths.

Yes, I give him three bathes.

His first bath was a quick degrease bath.
I use a degrease shampoo.
I like Pure Pet D'Grease shampoo.

I really like that shampoo for getting residues off of the coat.
For me, it prepares the coat and skin for the Medicated shampoo.

The Medicated shampoo was from the Vet.
It needed to sit on the dog for 15 minutes.

So, after I soap up the dog,  I need to find something to do.
But, I can't leave the dog.
So, I slowly massage him all over, really working that Medicated shampoo in.
Here and there I give a little squirt of warm water, and work up the lather again, to keep him from getting cold.

I check the time.....still 10 more minutes.
It is amazing how long 15 minutes takes when you are waiting.
I rub the dog a little more, thinking about the fact that I could have had him dry and finishing him by now if I didn't have to wait for this shampoo.

Lets see, what else can I do?

What do you do while you are waiting for that Medicated soak?

I play of course.

With the dog.

With his hair.

I make hair designs.

I think that he looks great with the mohawk down the back.

What else is there to do?

 Look how nice and fluffy he turned out.

I keep meaning to ask his owner how long his coat stays nice after a grooming, before it gets oily again.

I'll find out.

He is coming in again for a bath a couple of days before Christmas.

Then I get to play with his hair again. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Too Close to Home

One of the hardest things to do as a groomer is groom a dog that you know will be its last time.

The owner of a Springer that I groom called yesterday to see if I would still groom her dog.
She had an appointment on the books for today.
The Springer is dying of bone cancer in her rear leg.
The cancer is all over, but the tumor originated in her rear leg.
The last time that I groomed her, last month, the tumor was fairly large and she was limping, but still getting around pretty good.
She loved her walks with her owner.

The owner asked if I still wanted to groom her, because her time is short and she can no longer stand very well.
Her Vet gave the okay for a grooming, but she was leaving it up to me.
The owner mainly wanted a good sanitary trim to help keep her clean in the back, because she can no longer squat to do her business.

I didn't hesitate to say yes, but at the same time I wasn't sure how I was going to handle grooming this Springer that is living on borrowed time.

You see, my LabX girl is also living on borrowed time.
There is a very good chance that she will not make it to Christmas.
She is only 10 years old.
She has  inoperable rectal cancer.
Her tumor is the size of a small watermelon.
The tumor has pushed her rectum over to the side about 3 inches.
She is still able to pass her stools although it gets to be more and more of a struggle.
In the past two weeks the tumor has started to effect her bladder also.
She is still eating but has lost a lot of weight.

I know that I have to make a decision soon, but I don't like playing God.
At the same time I will not let her suffer.
I think she is starting to suffer.....

So, as I groomed the Springer, I turned my brain off.

Yes, it's actually pretty easy for me...thankfully.

I sang to her.

I thought about the book that I was reading.

I thought about anything else other than this Springers passing, and my girl.

They hide pain so well, don't they?

Or, is just that we, their owners, don't want to see their pain?

My girl has the same sad look in her eyes.

It just rips your heart out.

Something that gives you such unconditional love, leaves this Earth way too soon.

I groomed the Springer lying down.
I trimmed her up the best that I could.
Her owners said to do what ever I could, they would be happy.

I saved her hair.

I put it in a heart shaped glass Christmas ornament.

I will get a special pen at the craft store this weekend and write her name on it.

I also took her picture.

I have picked three that I think are nice.

Which one do you think that I should put on a canvas for her owners, #1, #2, or #3?

Or, does she look too sad?



This one is a little blurry.

I need to make an ornament for my girl, but I can't bring myself to shave some of her hair off yet.

I will always and forever have dogs.

No matter how hard it is to lose them, I will always need one in my life.

Besides, they are all there waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge.
They are running and playing and lying in the sun.
They are happy and pain free.

My 'Annie' will be running again soon, just like she used to.....

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bathing/Clipping a Matted Dog

I would like to start off this post with a warning.
I know that I have many pet owners that read my blog.
It is important to understand that I very strongly disagree with pet owners bathing their dogs when they are matted, or have not been thoroughly brushed and combed out first. 

Bathing a matted dog and not drying it correctly (as I will explain in this post) will only cause the matting to become tighter.
Shampoo and water could also get trapped under the matting and cause skin irritation.  

I have had several groomers question my method of bathing matted dogs.
Earlier this month Brent asked me to describe my process of bathing matted dogs.
I haven't had any really matted dogs in recently (thankfully), and with most of my Christmas customers being regulars, I most likely will not have any badly matted dogs till after Christmas, or in the spring.
So, this post will be made up of a mixture of a lot of different dogs and pictures that I have taken the last few years.

So here we go.

Like most groomers out there, I was taught to never bath a dog with mats in it. 
I followed this rule for the first 15 years of my grooming career. 
I always preclipped my dogs, even ones that were not matted. 
It never crossed my mind to even try bathing a matted dog.

To be honest, I can't really remember who told me about bathing matted dogs.
I went to a seminar once and met two groomers that talked about bathing dogs without brushing out the undercoat first.
I remember being blown away as they sat there insisting that they could groom a Keeshound in one hour, start to finish, all undercoat removed, by bathing it first and then blowing out the undercoat with a HV dryer. 

Shortly after that seminar I started grooming out of my Mobile Grooming Van.
Because time was so important, and my goal was to spend no longer than one hour to an hour and fifteen minutes at each house, I decided to no longer preclip my dogs.
I started putting every dog straight in the tub.  
My van was booked a year in advance.
 Just about all of my customers were on regular 4 to 6 week schedules, so I rarely had any matted dogs.   

When I opened my shop again, I continued putting all of my dogs in the tub first with no preclipping...even the matted ones.

That was 13 years ago.
I have been bathing matted dogs ever since.

I think that I will write this post in a question and answer format.
I will try to think of all the questions that another groomer might ask.  

Let's get started.

**Why bathe a matted dog?    

In my opinion, it is 100% safer and easier to clip a clean matted dog than a dirty, greasy matted dog.

 Let me ask you some questions....

~Have you ever spent a tremendous amount of time trying to fight a blade through dirty, greasy, matted hair?

~Have you ever had several blades dull in the process of clipping a dirty, greasy, matted coat?
~Have you ever had your blades jam, over and over again, in that dirty, matted hair to the point that you wanted to throw the blade across the room? 
~Have your blades quickly heated up fighting their way through the mat?
~Have you ever scared the sh*t out of yourself because you were not sure whether you were cutting mat or skin?
~Have you ever accidentally nicked a dog because the mat pulled the skin up into the blade? 

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, those are all good reasons to bathe a matted dog before clipping.


 What blade would you have preclipped this matted, overgrown Yorkie with?

A #5, #7, or maybe even a #10 blade. 

   After bathing and drying this once matted Yorkie was able to go home with a cute #3F blade cut.

~The blade never jammed.
~The blade did not heat up.
~I did not have to fight the blade through the clean coat.
~I did not dull any blades.  
~The dog was not nicked.
~The Yorkies clean hair was clipped much faster than if it had been dirty. 

**Will the grooming take longer if not preclipped?

The main complaint that I hear from groomers about bathing matted dogs is, drying all of that matted hair.
As you will read later in this post, you do not have to worry about getting all of the matted hair dry.
Your goal when drying a matted coat is to HV dry only the hair between the dogs skin and the mat.
The hair that you will be cutting...the air space between the skin and mat.

I heard that....'What the heck is she talking about?'   

I will explain in more detail later.

Anyway, remember you have already saved the preclip time by putting the dog straight into the tub. 
I think that you will also be surprized at how much the matting breaks down, under the force of the HV dryer, when the mat is free of dirt and grease.
It can make the drying go pretty quick on some dogs.

On some dogs, the dryer will surprising remove most of the matting.  


What blade would you have used to preclip this dirty, matted Poodle?

 With the help of a special shampoo and conditioner, the HV dryer was able to blowout just about all of the mats in this dogs coat.

Five minutes of brushing while fluff drying and this Poodle was mat free. 

Instead of being preclipped with a #5 or #7 blade, this dog was able to have a clip comb used on the body and legs.

Now, if only the owner will let us remove the mats from the topknot next time. :) 

**Do you bathe a matted dog any special way?


To bathe a matted dog, I like to use Best Shot Shampoo and Creme Rinse.

I use both the shampoo and creme rinse straight, I do not dilute it.

Another product that I like to use on matted dogs is 'The Stuff'.

I will make up a bottle of diluted shampoo and add a cap full of 'The Stuff'.  

 Bathing a matted dog may take you a little extra time, but not much.

I like to hand bathe my dogs.

I like to know that I am getting the shampoo worked really well into the matting.

I also like to work the mats apart that loosen up as the hair is cleaned.

Make sure that you rinse the shampoo very well.

Then creme rinse.

Depending on how tightly matted the dogs coat is, I will let the Creme Rinse sit a few minutes before rinsing well. 

**How do you dry a matted coat? 

In my opinion, a matted dog MUST be dryed straight from the tub.

DO NOT kennel dry!!  

If you do not have the time to HV dry dogs, or do not have a HV dryer, DO NOT bathe matted dogs.


A HV dryer is a must when bathing and drying matted dogs.

I recommend the ones with a variable speed control. 

You also want to remove the pointy regulator from the hose.  

 Use only the wide end mouth end of the hose.

 You want to place the hose right up against the mat.

Your goal is to blow the mat apart and move the mat as far away from the skin as possible. 

 Even if you are only able to move the mat a little bit away from the skin, it will give you a safe, clean air space between the skin and mat to easily get a blade through.

 I like working in a circular motion while working the air under the mat.

My goal is to dry from the skin out.

If you are drying a dog with very big thick mats, it is not important to get the mat itself dry.

The only hair that you want completely dry is the hair between the skin and mat.  

**Will I always be able to get a longer blade under the mat? 

I have found that most of the time I am able to get a longer blade under the mat then if I had preclipped. 
The clip definitely comes out smoother and plushier. 
The blade also slides nice and smoothly under the mat without overheating. 

Here are some examples of what the hair looks like, under the mat, after it has been cleaned and HV dried. 

Matting that loosened up a lot under the dryer.

A Poodle that would have had to be preclipped with a #7 .

After bathing and HVing the matted coat, a #4F blade was able to easily go through the coat. 

 This matting blew far enough away from the skin to get a 3/4 blade through the coat.

We were able to get a #3F under the mat on this dog.

 The mat on this dog was so tight that we still had to clip the dog with a #7F.

If we had preclipped, it would have taken quite a while to fight the blade through the dirty coat.

We may even have had to use a #10 blade, which could have caused skin irritation or a possible nick on this white, tender skinned dog.

Clipping a clean, matted dog allowed us to easily glide the #7f blade under the mat without worry. 

 Well there you go....

That is how I groom my matted dogs.  

It does not mean that other groomers have to do the same.  

Just have an open mind and give it a try sometime. 

You never know, you may be pleased with the results. 

 Sometimes it is hard to break away from the only way you know how, or have been taught, how to do something. 

It doesn't hurt to try something new.
You can always go back to the old way if you don't like it.

Just give new things a fair chance.
Try it a few times.
Give it a chance to get used to it.
If you still don't like the new method, no big deal. :)

I hope that this helped.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.
I will eventually answer them. :p
I have 13 comments waiting for me right now. :/

One more thing.
Please forgive any typos you may see in this post.
Blogger has been a real pain tonight.
It has been adding letters here and there, among other things, all night...driving me crazy!
Thanks. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF   

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas and Grooming... Bah,Humbug

I used to love Christmas.
Well, I still do, but it is different now.
I love Christmas day.
Grooming for 28 years at Christmas time has taken a toll.
I don't look forward to Christmas as much as I used to.

Oh, I enjoy Christmas day and the time spent with family.
It is those weeks leading up to Christmas....

It actually seems to start even before Thanksgiving now.

The calls.

The begging.

The anger.

The calls looking for appointments right before the Holidays.
The begging when you say that you are all booked up and have been for quite a while.
The anger when you  can not, or will not fit them in and give them the exact date and time that they want.

The closer that it gets to Christmas, the more you dread hearing the phone ring.
You are already grooming more dogs than you normally would just to try to fit in all of your regulars.
By the time Christmas Eve arrives you feel like you couldn't possibly groom one more dog...not even your own.
The best Christmas gift you could get would be, to be able to sleep from Christmas day til New Years Eve without being disturbed.

Bah, humbug....

I don't like feeling this way.
I didn't always feel this way.

The first Christmas that I had my shop I stayed after work one night to decorate the lobby.
I stayed till very late.
I made my lobby look like a winter wonderland.
I had garland and stars hanging from the ceiling.
I sprayed fake snow on the windows in a nice decoration.
I had little doggy stockings hanging off of the picket fence in front of our big window.
I had a really nice Christmas tree in the corner.

I had also bought candy cane raw-hides and tied ribbon around them to give my customers.
It was all I could afford for my first Christmas.

I was 21 years old, a new shop owner, and I was so excited for my customers to come in and see my lobby.

It is strange how it still bothers me after all of these years, that out of all the dogs we groomed that first Christmas in the new shop, only two customers ever said a thing about how nice the lobby was decorated.
Very few seemed happy about the raw-hides either.
It was like it wasn't even Christmas, just another grooming.

I never decorated my lobby like that again.

I still decorate, but minimally.
I no longer put up a full size tree either.
I got tired of cleaning up after the dogs that peed on my tree.
I got tired of having to replace the ruined  tree skirt at the bottom of the tree.

How would my customers like it if I came in their house and let my dogs pee on their Christmas tree?

This sounds terrible doesn't it?

I DO still like Christmas.....REALLY!

The extra busy days just make it hard to enjoy it as much as I used to.
Maybe I am just getting too old and turning into a Grinch.
I don't want to be a Grinch.

We went to a Christmas Tree Festival this past Sunday.
I wanted to do something to get into the Christmas spirit.
There were many beautiful and funny trees.

 This tree was like a winter wonderland.

This was a Preakness Tree for Maryland.

A beautiful Angel tree.

A clever Snowman Tree.

Even a Zombie Tree!

This was hilarious.

I love 'The Walking Dead' show.

So, did this big Christmas Tree Festival give me some Christmas Spirit?
Even though it was packed wall to wall with people?
Even though those same people did not have much Christmas spirit when you accidentally bumped into them?

I think that I actually met the 'Ice Queen'.
No, really...we were walking in opposite directions and did that awkward little dance that you do when each of you are trying to get past each other.
I laughed, and said that I was sorry, and she almost froze me to the ground with the icy look she gave me....Brrrrrrrr.

We only stayed a couple of hours.
If we had stayed any longer, I think that I would have lost what Christmas spirit I got from going to the place. :p

Four weeks.
Four weeks till Christmas.
Four weeks that are booked solid.
There is already a waiting list.

I'll get through it.
I always do.
I will try really hard to keep the Christmas spirit.

I have decided to make a bunch of large collar Christmas bows and I am going to attach little jiggle bells to them.
So as each dog goes out the door, I can hear the jingle bells and keep the Christmas spirit! :)

Happy Grooming, MFF