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, December 27, 2013

Still Not Right

The location that I am in is my shops third location in 26 years.
I bought my shop as an excising grooming salon.
The business had been run into the ground, lost most of its clientele do to the bad attitude of the previous owner, and the landlord didn't do much to help keep up the building.
I bought the business anyway, because it was a way for me to own my own shop.

I was not able to do many improvements while trying to build the business back up.
I was not crazy about the way the shop was laid out, but it was a nice big space.
Unfortunately, a lot of it was wasted space.
I would love to have some of that space back now. :/

Anyway, I moved out of that large shop, because the slumlord landlord really raised the rent on me.
(The shopping center burned down, do to faulty wiring a few months after I moved out.)
So, I downsized.

I did not have much choice in the way that I laid that shop out either.
There was only 500 square feet to work with, but it was nice and cozy.

I moved to my current location to add a Self-Serve dog wash, and doubled the space.
I also got to start from scratch to do the entire layout the way I wanted it.
I thought that I got it right.

I don't know, I guess you will always find things that you would like to change.
Unfortunately, I don't have enough room to make those extra changes right now.

I really wish that I had one of those changes today.
So, what is the change?

A small, private consultation area.
A consultation area with a small grooming table were I can take a customer to when I need to talk to them in private about their pet.

Take  today for instance.

I had a cat in today.
I have groomed this cat before.
Her owner had been bring her about once a month to have me combed her out.
Then her owner got sick and I did not see the cat for awhile.

The owners daughter called a few weeks ago about the cat, and said that she was pretty matted.
She said that the matting was pretty bad.
Because of the Holidays and being so booked, we suggested that she check with her Vet, and if the cat needed to be clipped right away, maybe they could do it.
The daughter called back to say that the Vet thought that we could handle it.

Ugh, well I knew I could handle it, I just thought that the Vet would clip off the mats sooner if they were really bad.

Fast forward to today.
The cat came in this morning.
The top half of her was not so bad.
She had matting that could be easily brushed out.
But the bottom half......

The matting was from under her chin and behind her ears, down her chest and belly to her tail, and was one tight, rock solid mat.

I spent a while slowly and carefully working my way through those mats.

Especially around those armpits.

I don't think I breathed while clipping those packed armpits.

The mats were so tight to her skin.

I clipped all of the mats off and saved them to show the owners daughter.

Thankfully, I only had to shave the under half of the cat, and only half way up the sides.

So, she looks pretty good laying this way.

When she lays on her side, her naked belly will show. :)

As I mentioned before, I saved the mats that I cut off to show the owners daughter. (she is taking care of the cat while her Mom recovers)
I was also showing her how to brush and comb the cat so that she could get all of the way down to the skin to get all of the matting.
This is when a nice, small consultation room would have come in handy.

As I was showing the daughter the matting, another customer came into pick up her dogs.
Most of the time a customer will stand back and wait their turn, or if my husband knows that I am going to be talking to a customer for a while, he will go over to the other customer and wait on them to get them in and out.

He did not have a chance today.

The second customer came right up to the counter to see what I was talking to the first owner about.
She also started to make comments about the mats on the counter, and asked the daughter a few questions.
She totally busted into our conversation.
I could tell that the daughter was embarrassed.
She was already upset about the condition of the cat, and had already asked me how she could keep the cat from matting up again.
It would have been much better if I could have taken her into a small room, away from the lobby and other customers to talk to her.

This scenario has happened a number of times before over the years.
When another customer walks in and injects themselves into a conversation that I am already having with another customer.

So, I have decided, if and when I have more room, I am going to make that little consultation room so that I can talk to certain customers in private.
Something else to add to my 'I Want That List'. :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Twas The Week Before Christmas

'Twas the week before Christmas when all through the grooming shop,
Every dog was barking, and nothing could make them stop.
The clippers were running and we were scissoring with care,
In hopes that we would not drown in all of the hair.

The dogs were all comfy and cozy in their kennels,
While visions of rawhide's danced in their heads.
Some dogs were all finished with Christmas bows and bandannas,
Just waiting for their owners before we all go bananas.

When out in the lobby there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my table to see what was the matter.
Away to the lobby I flew like a flash,
And there on the counter was a Christmas sock monkey named 'Sash'.

There he was in his little Christmas hat,
Right on my counter, that little monkey sat.
When what to my wondering ears should he say,
"I came to help with the grooming this busy day."

This little Christmas sock monkey, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment this must be some trick.
'Sash' said he had come to help us all out,
He whistled and called to the dogs without doubt;

Now 'Hanna'! now 'Peanut'! now, 'Lily'! now 'Zoey'!
Come 'Bentley'! come 'Riley'! come 'Cooper'! and 'Joey'!
To the tub! To the Dryer!
To the the table you go!

As water and shampoo bubbles fly,

'Sash' helped with the washing even though anal glans almost made him cry.

On to the drying he thought he would try,
Only to find the power enough to make him fly.

He got the clipper ready,
only to find that it was too heavy.

I handed 'Sash' a clipper made more for his size,
He helped with the clipping with a twinkle in his eyes.

He helped with the brushing from head to toe,
He knew that all the matting had to go.

He found the nail clipper a little hard to manage,

But luckily flying nails didn't do too much damage.

A mountain of hair he found himself under,
He thought that his world had gone a sunder.

The clipper vac hose was just his right size,
for the mound of hair that was too big for his eyes.

'Sash' was having fun climbing on dogs to help hold the ears,
He stroked all their heads to calm all their fears.

He sang Christmas songs to the dogs that were quaking,
And held on to their legs to help them stop shaking.

He was a happy little monkey,
And I laughed when I saw him kiss a dog named 'Punky'.
A wink of his eye and a smile on his face,
Had me grooming at a nice calm pace.

He spoke not a word, but worked as hard as any groomer,
He helped finish all of the dogs that much sooner.
He loved sorting through Christmas ribbon and flowers,
He had fun doing this for hours and hours.

As the last days of grooming drew near,
He found all of the dogs had nothing to fear.
The groomers were great, professional and caring,
He found he had had fun sharing.
All of the dogs are safe and secure,
With caring groomers that pet owners shouldn't ignore.


His favorite part of grooming was giving big hugs,
To all of the dogs, even the Pugs.

One minute he was there, in a flash he was gone,
A great Christmas helper, always whistling a song.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the hard working, caring, gentle groomers for all your hard work through out the year.
The dogs appreciate you more than you know.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

So Sweet

I had a new furry customer in today.
I am actually glad that this customer was able to get in so close to Christmas. (due to a cancellation)

Meet one of the sweetest Schnauzers I have ever groomed.

She is 13 years old.

Her owner has been in the Hospital for the last year.

The lady that brought her in today has been fostering her till the owner can come home.

 The dog has always been groomed by the owner.

The foster Mom has done a really great job of keeping the dog brushed out, but felt that it was time for a professional grooming.

The owner does not like any type of Schnauzer look.

She was so good on the tub.

She does have a bum back leg, so I let her sit most of the time.

Because she was 13 years old, and the foster owner was pretty sure that she had never been to a professional groomer before, I was afraid to use the high velocity dryer on her.

So I dried her with the hand dryer.

Thankfully her hair dried very quickly, and she was great for the brushing and drying.

 Her foster mom told me to leave about 2½ inches.

I was also to leave the ears.

I just neatened them.

I was also to shorten the beard a little.

I also tried to blend where the foster mom had scissored her feet and back legs.

What a pure pleasure she was to groom!

She got a Christmas bow so she would look extra pretty when she went to visit her owner in the hospital. :)

I actually like the way her face and ears turned out.

It fits her.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Makeover

Seven more grooming days till Christmas.
So, so busy.
I hope that everyone is busy getting all of their furry customers groomed for Christmas.

I took pictures of a very sweet Australian Labradoodle puppy (7 months old) that got her first hair cut the other day.
I didn't have time to get a bunch of detailed pictures, so this post is going to be more of  a quick before and after.

She had so much hair on her and not a single mat, but she was getting to be too much for her owner to keep us with, so her owner was ready for the hair cut.
The owner wanted her to be groomed like her other Doodle.

This little girl does pretty good in the tub, absolutely hates the dryer, and is good and still as a statue on the grooming table.
 She has a very wavy, fine, cottony coat.
I used the light purple Wahl medial clip comb and scissored her to finish.

Here is her head Before and After:

Here is a Before and After of the rest of her. :)

Hope everyone is enjoying their crazy, busy Christmas grooming days.
Hang in there.
Christmas will be here before we know it. :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Grooming Instructor Would Kill Me

I have written before about one of the dogs that I groom whose owner loves his curls and does not like when I blow dry his hair straight.
I usually groom him like I do all of my other dogs.
I have to blow dry his hair straight, because he gets hand scissored.
So, once I am finished with his groom, I always spritz him down with water to curl up his hair again.

Today he came in for his Christmas groom, but he was only a bath and trim feet, rear, and face.
As I was bathing him I was trying to figure out how to dry him without fluffing his hair up.
I didn't needed the hair straight today.
So, I didn't want to waste time HV drying him only to have to turn around and wet him down again to curl the coat back up.
I knew that if I HVed him like I normally do every dog, the HV would straighten out the coat.
I could have kennel dried him, but I didn't have time to wait for him to kennel dry, and I also don't like kennel drying dogs unless absolutely necessary.


So, I decided to go ahead and use the HV, only not the way I usually use it.
I normally place the end of the hose (without the pointy nozzle) right up against the skin and dry the hair from the skin out, straightening and drying the hair at the same time.
This time I held the nozzle about 12 inches from the dog, blowing the air at the coat while I rubbed my fingers through the coat to separate the hair to help it dry faster.

That is when I first had a Deja vu moment.
My old grooming instructor yelling at me.
"Stop rubbing that clean dog with your hand!!!! You are going to get the oils from your hand all over that dogs coat!!"
I had an unbelievable urge to turn around and see if she was behind me.
I used to get yelled at for petting the clean dogs all of the time.

I had another Deja vu moment while grooming this dog.
As the dog dried and the coat was looking more and more fluffy/wavy/ curly I was remembering the way my dogs would look when I used to kennel dry every dog.

Yes, I was grooming in the stone age when there were no high velocity dryers to dry dogs.
The dogs would completely kennel dry and then I would get them out, comb them up, clip or scissor them, and they would look like a curly mess when they went home.

Well, it was not quite bad as it sounds, but that is the way I was taught in Grooming School.
I didn't know any other way at the time.

I can't describe how hard this was for me. 
I wanted so badly to fluff that coat up the right way.

  The HV did the bulk of the drying, but he was still damp.

So, I finished up drying with my hand held dryer, still running my fingers through the coat.

This is before doing any brushing.

See teach, no oily coat!

Sorry, couldn't help it.

I always thought her yelling at me about oil in hands was a bunch of BS.

This is still too fluffy for the owner, but I know that after I put him back in his kennel and by the time the owner picked him up, he will look pretty curly again.

The head did fluff up a little more than I thought that it would after I brushed and combed it, but....

 ....once I scissored it, I did what I absolutely HATE seeing my customers do.

I rubbed his head.

I ran my fingers all through the top and sides of his head.

It was killing me. :/

But I did it....for the owner.

Only another groomer knows how I felt.

 So, once again he goes home curly.

I got to reminisce on how my grooms used to look a hundred years ago.

I have to admit, it was fun doing something a little different today.

Although I could have done without hearing my old grooming teacher in my head. :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

To Fire, Or Not To Fire....

...that is the question.  lol

Sorry couldn't help myself.
That is about as close to anything Shakespeare that you will hear from me.
Tried to read Shakespeare once and my brain was fried for two days.

Anyway, this post is a small rant about a customer.

I don't write much about some of the interactions that I have with my customers anymore.
Not since one of my long time customers found my blog and read a post that I had written about her dog.
It was not a bad post.
At least I didn't think so, but she took offense to my talking about how long it took us to find a good cut that worked for both me and the customer.
I lost two dogs from that innocent posting.
I really liked both of those dogs, and even though the owner was a little picky about how her dogs where groomed, (that was okay, I would be picky too) I liked her too.

So, I had backed off of my customer stories.
My daughter said that I should start writing them again, because my blog is boring now. lol
Well, I am going to write about one today.

This story happened last week, but I was too pissed to write about it at the time.
I'll most likely get worked up about it again just writing this post.
Or, maybe not. :)

The customer in this story is a very long time customer of mine.
I have been grooming her dogs since I opened my shop.
I groomed her first dog well into its teens before she passed away.
She was a very sweet dog.

Then the owner got two puppies.
Her new puppies were a high maintenance breed.
In my opinion they should have been groomed, at the very least, every 8 weeks.
She gets them groomed, like clock work,  only four times a year.

This customer drops her dogs off at 8 am and does not pick up until we close.
Here in lies the problem.

Let me go back to when I first started grooming this customers dogs.
When I first opened my shop, my hours were 8am to 6pm, sometimes later if I was running behind.
It was not unusual for me to work till 7 or 8pm.
I was not married yet then, and I only lived about 10 minutes from the shop.
I was building my business and did not mind the long hours.

Even after I got married, and had two children, we kept the 8am to 6pm hours.
Then we moved out of our childhood neighborhood, that was no longer a safe place to live and bring up kids.
We moved to the country.
We now had a 40 minute commute back and forth to work each day.
We talked about moving the shop, but I did not want to lose all of the clientele that I had worked so long and hard to get.
We decided instead to reduce our hours to 8am to 5pm.

Most of our customers were fine with the change.
Any customers that always kept their dogs at our shop all day, while they were at work, and could not pick up till 6pm moved to Saturday appointments.
There were a couple of customers that did not get off of work till 5pm and we would stay open an extra 15 or 20 minutes waiting for them to pick up.
No big deal really.
It only happened once in a while.
The customer in this post was one of those customers that we stayed open waiting for her to pick up.

After I had my third child, in 2000, we changed the hours again.
8am to 4pm
An eight hour day of physical labor with no lunch break and no other breaks was long enough.
I wanted to spend time with my kids.

So, as I have explained, we have been closing at 4pm for 13 years.
Now, or course we still stay open for an extra 15 to 30 minutes for a few customers that may have trouble picking up by our closing time, because they also get off work at 4pm.

Because of this 4pm closing time, we have had to listen to the customer I am talking about in this post complain every time she drops her dog off.
Every time she asks what time we are closing.
Every time we tell her 4pm.
Every time she reminds me that we used to be open till 6pm.
Every time she tells me how much trouble it is to leave work.
Every time she tells me how busy her work is.
Every time she calls at 3:30pm to see if her dogs are done, and are we still closing at 4pm.
To top it off, nine times out of ten she walks in after 4pm, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes late.

Yes, I know that I said we do this for some of our customers, BUT that is because they ASK us if it is okay.
This customer does not!
Each time we tell her the 4pm closing time when she drops off, AND when she calls at 3:30pm.
So, we put up with it.
As I said, she is a long time customer and only comes in four times a year.
I always say, it is not worth ruining your day over.

Until last week.
My son is taking a driving course that starts every night at 6pm.
This gives us 2 hours to clean the shop, get home, cook dinner, and get him to class.
That means that we have to be out the door no later than 4pm.

So, when this customer came in last week, I made a point, (when she asked me for the millionth time what time we closed) to tell her that I HAD to close NO LATER than 4pm.
She immediately got upset.
She informed me that my hours were inconvenient.
(We have offered many times for her to move her appointments to Saturday.)
She informed me that she would have to take vacation time to leave work to pick up by 4pm.

13 years!!!!
13 years we have closed at 4pm!
Get over it!

To be honest, I was not surprised at her little rant.
I just smiled and let her rant.
I repeated that I needed to have my son somewhere by a certain time and her dog HAD to be picked up by 4pm.

I groom and babysit her dogs for 8 hours.
I don't charge her a babysitting, or daycare fee.
I don't charge her a late fee when she walks in 30 minutes after her appointment time. (Does not matter if the dog is staying all day, she still has an appointed time to be in by.)
I don't charge her a late pick up fee.

I let her morning drop off rant slide.
I did not get mad about it.
You better believe that I was thinking; 'you better pick up by 4pm.'

Well, we finished all the dogs by 3pm that day.
I had to run to the store real quick before we closed for the day.
While I was gone, you guested it, this customer called at 3:20 to ask if her dog was done, and if we were still closing at 4pm.
She also asked one other question.

When I got back to the shop, the first thing my daughter said to me was; 'Mom, don't get mad.'
'Why, what happened?' I asked.
'Ms. soinso called,' my daughter answered.
'Yeah? She asked if we were still closing at 4pm, right?' it was more of a statement than a question.
'Yes, but she also asked Dad if you were telling the truth when you said that we had to close no later than 4pm,' she told me.
'She asked him if I was telling the truth!?' I repeated. 'So in other words she was asking if I was lying? She was calling me a liar.'

My husband was waiting on another customer when she called, so all he could say was; 'Yes, she was telling the truth.'
Well, it was 3:30 when I got back to the shop.
So I had 30 minutes to do a slow burn, and then try to calm myself down.

Wow, I don't think that I have ever had a customer call me a lair before.
Even if she did do it in a round about way.

It doesn't even matter if I was lying to get her to pick up her dog on time.
We close at 4pm!
We have been closing at 4pm for 13 years!
What is so hard to understand about that.
It is not my fault that the customer will not move her appointments to Saturdays.
It is not my fault that she still chooses to come in on her workdays when we close an hour before she gets off of work.
Four times a year.
She can't make arrangements four times a year to leave work early.
Or, does she just get some kind of thrill from giving me a hard time about my work hours?

So, how did I handle it when she picked up her dog?
Not the way my family wanted me to. lol

She walked in right at 4 on the dot.
I had no time to get into it with her.
I kindly waited on her.
I listened to her rant again about the fact that she had to use two and a half hours of vacation time just to come pick up her dog at my inconvenient closing time.
I recommended strongly that she move her appointments to Saturdays.
I told her that her dog is the only elderly dog that I keep all day. (her other dog has passed away)
I told her that she needed to come on Saturdays so that her dog could be picked up the minute that she was done.
She told me that she would have to think about it.
I also told her that I put in my eight hours a day of work with no lunch break, or any other breaks during the day.
I am a small Mom and Pop shop, and have a family to take care of also.

No, I did not fire this customer.
She can drive me crazy, but we like her dog.
We have been grooming her dog since it was a puppy.
It is not fair for the dog to go to another groomer who knows nothing about her at this time in her life.
So, I bite my tongue and put up with her owners rude comments.
And, I keep telling myself; "it's for the dog, it's for the dog, it's for the dog."