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.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lunch...

....



A groomers 5 minute lunch.

That is when a groomers actually gets 5 minutes to take a lunch break.


Oh....wait a minute.....














 I forgot to clean up the hair before I got ready to eat.


Now I only have 4 minutes to eat..............






Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NAILS.........GRRRR!

I have come to the conclusion that the only reason for dogs to be born with toes nails, is so that groomers can be tortured by them......both physically and mentally.

It starts with Grooming School.

You are petrified of hitting the quick, hurting the dog, and making the nail bleed.
Your teacher keeps telling you to take more off.
You keep taking itty, bitty pieces off the nails, until the teacher gets fed up with you and comes over, grabs those stupid guillotine nail clippers out of your hand and says; "Here. Let me show you again!" and proceeds to clip the nails with lightning speed, making you feel like an idiot.
Torture session number one.

You eventually become more comfortable with clipping the nails.

Of course, you learn very quickly that those nails can be a pain in your a** in different ways....literally.

Like, early on in my grooming career.

One summer to be exact.

I was wearing flip flops (open toes shoes) to work.
I was walking a very large Old English to the tub when he decided that he wanted to go back to his kennel.
He turned, stepped down on the top of my bare foot, and proceeded to dig all of his toes nails into my skin, and pushing with all of his might to go back to his kennel.

Talk about pain.

Lets just say, by the time I was able to get his foot off of the top of my foot, get feeling back into my foot, and saw the four holes in the top of my foot, I had learned my lesson to never ever wear open shoes in the grooming room again.

Oh, I used to wear ear rings also....until the day that a Shih-tzu put his paw up to my face as I was carrying him back to the grooming room and got one his nails caught in the loop of my earring.

Talk about some more pain.

I was able to get the nail out of the earring before he ripped the whole earring out of my earlobe, but I swear he did manage to pull the earring enough to make the hole larger.
I no longer wear earrings to work.

Of course, there are the countless number of times that a dog freaks out as I am taking them out of a kennel and they rake their nails across my neck, or arm, or face.
And, the times that they dig all of their back nails into your back as you carry them from the kennel, to the tub, to your table.

Lets not forget the times that the dog hangs on you in the tub as you are trying to rinse their face and they tear your arms to shreds.

Then there are the heart attacks....

~The heart attacks with the dogs that like to try to lick your nail clippers as you are trying to clip their nails.
~The dogs that sit there nicely and let you clip all of their nails....till the very last nail...then they go for the kill, and go after the nails clipper, or you big time.
~Or, the dogs that think that you are playing with them while you are trying to clip their nails.
They like to watch you, and just as you start to squeeze the clipper, they lung with a playful bite at the clipper.
~And, I can't forget the dogs that insist on hanging their heads right down in front of their feet so that you can not see what you are trying to clip.

Last but not least....the ticklish dogs.

~The dogs that, just as you are about to clip the nail, jerk their foot so hard, or mule kick so hard, that they send your nails clippers sailing across the room.

As if that isn't enough to deal with nails and the dogs.....we come to the pet owners.







You have the owners that could care less as to whether their dogs nails are kept short.












Or, are just ignorant of the fact that dogs need to have their nails clipped regularly.











Then there are the pet owners that have actually gotten angry at me, because I will not clip their dogs nails all of the way back to the toe.

Me: "I am sorry, I don't clip nails back that far. It would be very painful for your dog."
Pet owner: "I don't care. I want the nails cut off. They are tearing up my wood floors!!"

Now, to be fair, I have only had a hand full of pet owners request this of me.
Every one of them got pissed off with me when I refused.

I actually groomed a Standard Poodle whose owner would routinely have his dog put under by the Vet so that said Vet could clip the dogs nails all of the way back to the toes.

Then comes the pet owners who like to accuse you of not clipping their dogs nails when you groomed them.
The only problem is....these owners tend to wait till weeks after the grooming to call you.
Much too late for you to take up for yourself.

Case in point:

I recently had a customer call to say that her dogs nails had not been clipped at the last grooming.
It had been 3 weeks since his dog had been groomed.
The dog was due in for another grooming in 6 days.

The owner did not want to wait till his grooming appointment.
We let him bring his dog in that day to have the nails done.
Yes, they were fairly long, but after 3 weeks there was no way to know whether they had been missed during the last groom.
We are not perfect, but it is highly unlikely that the nails were not clipped.

So I clipped them, and filed them.

Now, I am going to toot my own horn here a little.
I am very good at clipping nails.
I am very good at getting them as short as possible without bleeding them.
I don't want customers coming back and accusing me of not doing the nails, or not getting them short enough.

So, I clipped those nails as short as I could safely get them.
Then I filed them nice and smooth and round.

That same owner came back in six days for the dogs regular grooming.







 This is what the nails looked like 6 days after I had clipped and filed them.








Even I could not believe how much they had grown in 6 days!!








No wonder they made me question whether or not we had clipped them at the last grooming.









Once again I clipped and filed the nails.






Now I have picture proof of how fast this dogs nails grow.

I will not hesitate to pull them out if I am accused of not clipping them again. :/







I personally do not agree with de-clawing any animal, but if dogs were suddenly born without nails....I think that I would do a happy dance. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Monday, March 25, 2013

Makeover Monday...Lhasapoo

Before I get into posting the Makeover Monday dog, I have a question.

It is Spring, right?

This is what we woke up to today.





 This is my driveway.

This is March, right?

Don't get me wrong, I like snow, but I am so ready for spring.

We got lucky here in Maryland this past winter.

We had blizzards all around us, but they kept missing us.








It is only going to me about 2-4 inches, and will most likely be all gone by the end of the week.








Even the chickens stayed in this morning.




 It is beautiful.

As long as the branches on those eighty foot Oaks all around my house don't get too heavy with snow.

Hopefully no one will cancel tomorrow, because I have no place to move them to. :/

Snow around here sends everyone into a panic.


Anyway, on to the Makeover...








This little lady is a Lhasapoo.

Her owner wants about half off of her coat.










The face will be scissored in proportion with the body.






Even though she was a little overgrown, she was in pretty good shape, with only a few mats here and there.

I bathed her in DoubleK® Oatmella.

As I was bathing her, I noticed that she had dry, crusty urine build up around her privates.






What appears to be a hard, gooey mat all wrapped around her privates.

I personally do not feel that this kind of mat should be clipped before the bath.

I feel that there is too much of a chance for the dogs vulva getting nicked, or clipper irritation.

I soap up the area with medicated shampoo and let it soak while I am soaping up the rest of the dog.







After the area has had  time to soak, I check it to see if the hard, crusty urine has softened up.

If it is still hard, I rinse the area and soap it up again.

I use my fingers to loosen up the crusty mat.

Be gentle, don't pull.




As the crust softens, very gently work the crust and hair apart.

Rinse the area well.

Most of the crust usually rinses out.

If you are not able to get all of the crust out, at least try to work it away from the vulva so that there is an airspace for you to safely get a blade under the mat.








Now I can safely clip this area clean.







You still must be careful.

The area may already be irritated from the moisture of the gooey mat.

Hopefully the medicated shampoo will help sooth any irritation.







Because this owner goes a little while between groomings and the dogs hair grows long and thick around the rear and vulva, I take this area short.

Now, even though I am using a clipper to do this, I am clipping this area by skimming it.

Meaning I get as close as possible without having the blade touch the skin.



Around the vulva I am touching the skin, but very lightly.

I want to get his area as clean as possible.

Luckily she did not have too much irritation, just right around the opening of the vulva.

Make sure that whenever you may have to clean up a dogs privates so closely, that you take the time to let the owner know what you had to do.

(It wouldn't be a bad idea to take pictures also, so that you can prove what a mess the area was.)

 

I have been known to take a gooey mat that I got off of the privates up to the owner and show it to them.

The mat on this dog fell apart during the bath, so there was nothing left to show this owner.

You still want to let the owner know why you took this area so close, and also let them know that the dog may go home and lick this area a lot, or even scoot.

Depending on the owner, I will even use the example of a person shaving for a bathing suit, and how itchy that can be, to get them to understand what I am talking about.

Needless to say, this example doesn't work with everybody.
You must come up with an analogy that you think the owner will understand.
Sometimes I will also use the analogy of shaving your underarms, and how it can itch afterwards sometimes.
It really helps the owner to understand what you are talking about when they can relate it to something that happens to them.

If the area is irritated I will relate the dogs irritation to the irritation that a baby gets from wearing a damp diaper.
I will explain to them that because the hair was matted around the vulva, every time she peed, she was peeing into the matted hair and that hair was staying wet, creating a wet, moist environment that may never dry, in turn causing a diaper type rash on the dogs skin.

Don't be afraid to get very detailed when talking to your customer.
If I shock them....good.
That means that they will remember our conversation when the dog later licks too much, or scoots.

Also, I am a big believer in talking to and telling the owner things that they need to know before you bring their dog out to them.
If you bring the dog out and try to talk to them at the same time, believe me, they are not listening to a word that you are saying.
They may act like they are, but they are so busy looking at, or talking to their dog that they are not hearing you.
You will get a call later and have to repeat everything you already told them.

I want them to know everything before they leave my shop.
I don't want them calling back thinking that I was trying to hide something.

After I have talked to them, explained everything, and am pretty sure that they understand, I bring up their dog.
Then I show them what I was talking about.
If the dog is not irritated, I still show them the area so that they can see how short I took it, and can also see that everything is just fine.
I again warn them to not let their dog lick or scoot.
(Let the owner know that a dog can do  a surprising amount of damage to the skin when they constantly lick one area.)

If there is a minor irritation, I like to let the owner see it.
I usually tell them that if their dog leaves the area alone, the rash/irritation will most likely clear up in a couple of days now that air can get to that area.
If it does not, they should take their dog to the Vet.
I also tell them that if the dog will not leave that area along, they can pat a little corn starch around the area to help relieve the itching.
Corn starch is safe if they lick it, and there are no perfumes like in powders.

If the irritation is bad, I refer them to their Vet, and recommend that the dog is groomed more often to keep that area clean.

Whew......I hope I covered everything there. :)


Back to the rest of the Makeover.








All dry and ready to clip.








The owner wants half off, so I have decided to use a clip comb attachment.

Make sure that the coat is mat free.








I used the yellow Whal® Stainless Steel Attachment Comb to remove half of the coat.









I used full pressure on the body.




I used a lighter pressure on the hips and skimmed  the bottom of the back legs and skimmed the front legs.

Then I went over the body and the legs with scissors to even everything up.

I used the 13mm comb on the top of the head and lightly skimmed down the cheeks.

I scissored the rest of the face in proportion with the body.








As you may have noticed, I put a piece of material up behind my table.
I am hoping to use it mainly for the 'after' pictures.
This was only the second dog that I used it with.




I was so busy trying to get all of the pictures for the makeover post that I didn't mind when she sat down.

I always get front shots of them sitting down.

There was only one problem.

Can you guess what it was?




She was not sitting.

She was peeing!!

Boy was she peeing.

On my new backdrop!

She drenched it before I realized what she was doing.




The one good thing?

The material soaked up all of the pee, saving her from getting any pee on herself.

Well, at least she was all nice and clean back there. :)



It is 4pm.

It has been snowing all day.






Everyone is chilling.






The snow is supposed to turn to rain this evening.

I am 90% sure, that at the very least, all of my elderly customers are going to cancel tomorrow. :( 

I am so ready for Spring! 

Happy Grooming, MFF

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How About Buying One Of These?

That is the question that my son asked me and my daughter today when we were in the Hallmark® store.

He had been looking at some of the displays while I was buying some cards.

My son walked over to us and held out the pottery jar that he had picked up for us to read.



Needless to say, my daughters reaction to this little piece of pottery was priceless.

I don't know if I was laughing more at what this little jug said, or at my daughters reaction.

You see, she feels that I let my customers walk all over me, and that I let the problem customers get away with too much.
I was laughing, because I know that if my daughter had 'her way' we really would have a real jug full of problem customers ashes sitting on our counter.

Did we buy it?

No.

Even my daughter agreed that it was something that we could not put on the counter in our lobby.

Oh well, at least I have a picture of that cute little jug. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Got a Call....

 Phone rings...
~MFF: "My Furry Friends, can I help you?"
Customer: "Yes, I was wondering if you have a groomer there that knows how to do a 'correct' groom on a Goldendoodle?"

Now, I am not going to go into how this conversation went, because I have a question of my own?

Are dogs born with a grooming handbook that I don't know about?

What is a 'correct' groom for any breed.

I being serious.

I really want to know.

Is there some proof out there that Poodles must have shaved feet, or a shaved face?
Must Cockers have long ears with the top third of the ear shaved, and long skirts and legs that most owners are not able to keep up with?
Must Bichons have big poofy heads that make them look like they are going to topple all of the way over if they put their head down to sniff something?
Must Westies have heads groomed to look like they stuck their paw in a light socket?
Must Schnauzers and Scotties have eyebrows that grow to the tip of their nose? 

Just who came up with these 'correct' grooms?
 

What is the 'correct' cut for a Cockapoo?
A Shihapoo?
A Maltipoo?
A Schnoodle?
A Doxiechon?
A Pekeapoo?
A Labradoodle?
.......
I could do this all night.
 
I want to meet the person who decides what a 'correct' groom is.

I am very sure that there are groomers, breeders, handlers out there that would love to debate me on this subject.

I not trying to start something.

I would just like to know who is this person is/was that has this almighty power to look a dog and say 'cut this and that, leave that and this'......that is the 'correct way'!

It is really not that big of a deal.
When I have a customer that comes in with a pure breed dog, and they ask me "what is the 'correct' way to groom my dog?" I tell them that there is no 'correct' way, there is a recommended way, but you can groom your dog anyway that you would like it to look.

It also amazes me how many pet owners think that they have to groom their dog the 'correct' (recommended) way.
They are so surprised when I tell them that they can have their dogs groomed any way thety want, and in a way that is good for their lifestyle, and something that they can easily take care of.

The funny thing is, that even owners who want their pure breeds groomed in the 'correct' (recommended) groom, almost always tweak the groom a little.
"Do the Cocker pattern, but I don't want a lot of hair on the legs", or "I don't want the skirt".
A lot of times, by the time they are finished 'tweaking', the groom doesn't look anything like the 'correct' (recommended) groom. :)

Now, what can I even say about the 'correct' groom on the designer breeds?

I know what I can say.....

THERE IS NO SUCH THING!
THERE IS NO 'CORRECT' GROOMING FOR A MIXED BREED!

Oh, sorry.
I didn't mean to yell.

It is just that if one more person tells me that I am not a professional groomer because I don't know the 'correct' grooming for a designer breed, I am going to choke them.
Not really, but I am going to want to. :/

Hmmmmmm

I know what.

How about if I sit down and come up with a 'correct' groom, pattern, style for all of the designer breeds out there?
Well, maybe not all of them, since there seems to be new ones popping up all of the time.

Let's see....a Schnoodle.....how about eyebrows with a clean face, tasseled ears, and boots on the feet.
A Maltipoo......how about a foo-man-chew mustache with a small topknot,  shaved button ears, and a lamb pattern body with bell shaped legs.

Can you picture it?

It is like a blank canvas.
Why couldn't I do the same thing that the person who thought up the Poodle Continental, the Westie Style, and the Portuguese Water Dog style did?
Someone, somewhere sat down and thought up these grooming cuts, right?

Or, as I said before, were these pure breeds born with grooming handbooks that I don't know about?

I think that I am finally losing it.
I have inhaled too much hair over the years.
I think that I must have a large hair ball in my brain.

Don't mind me....I am in a strange mood tonight. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF