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.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Keeping Faith....

...in your customers.

Sometimes it is hard to keep your faith in people when you work a customer service based job.
 After 30 years of grooming and dealing with pet owners, I have been surprised and hurt by the actions of some customers over the years, but for the most part, I have been able to keep my faith in my customers intact.
Yesterday that faith was tested.

 We had a pretty regular Self-Serve customer come in to bathe her dog.
 She bathed the dog, and I clipped the dogs nails.
 When it was time for her to leave, it seemed like all heck had broken loose.
 The Self-Serve customer was preparing to leave, another customer was in the lobby picking up a full groom dog, and our supply guy was also in the lobby with a delivery and waiting to get paid.
 I had to get back to the dog that I had been doing before I stopped to clip the SS nails, so my husband was taking care of everyone in the lobby.

After taking the full serve customer his dog, my husband came into the grooming room.

Husband: "Did the Self-Serve customer pay you after you cut the nails?"
Me: "No, why?"
Husband: "She left."
Me: "What do you mean she left?"
Husband: "She walked by everybody in the lobby and went out to her car"
Me: "She probably just took her dog to her car and will come back in and pay."
Groomer Daughter: "Mom! You are too trusting! We just lost a Self-Serve fee!"
Me: "No, I am sure she will come back in and pay."

My husband exits the grooming room to go pay the delivery man.
He returns a few minutes later.

Husband: "She's gone."
Me: "The Self-Serve customer?"
Groomer Daughter: "I told you!"
Husband: "Her car is gone."
Me: "She will be back, I know she will. She did not mean to leave without paying. She has been coming here too long."
Husband: "I don't know."
Grooming Daughter: "She is not coming back."
Bather Son: (shaking head at poor trusting delusional Mother)
Me: "She is a very nice lady. She will realize that she forgot to pay and come back.
Husband: "We'll see."
Groomer Daughter: "You're too trusting Mom. 
Bather Son: (still shaking head)

We do not keep customer records on Self-Serve customers.
So there was no way of contacting this customer.

Ten minutes later...
I see the Self-Serve customer walking up to the door.
A few minutes later my husband walks back into the grooming room.

Husband: "She said that she got half way home and something didn't feel right. Then she remembered that she didn't come back in and pay after she got the dog in the car."
Me: "I told you, you have to have faith in people to do the right thing."

Happy, Happy, Happy

Friday, June 27, 2014

Smooth Clipping

I had a blog reader ask a question about getting a smooth clip on a dog.
How to keep from having the blade leave lines in the coat.

I was going to answer her question in the comments, but then thought that showing pictures may help better.

First of all, if you are having trouble getting a smooth look on just a few dogs here and there, the problem could just be the coat type on that particular dog.

Every once in awhile I will come across a coat that is very frustrating to get a nice smooth look on.
Sometimes it is almost impossible to do with the clipper blade and I would have to follow up with scissors and thinning shears to smooth out the clip.

I know that some groomers out there like to use blades in reverse to get a nice smooth clip on a dog.
I am personally not crazy about reverse clipping.
I think it damages some coats.
I also think that there is more of a chance of clipper irritation when reverse clipping.
I feel that some dogs do not like the feel of the blade running backwards against the grain of their coat.
Reverse clipping, depending on the blade that you use, may also take the coat a lot shorter than the owner wanted.

As I stated, these are just my own opinions.
I am much more comfortable clipping with the grain on a dogs coat.

That being said....clipper lines....

If you are having problems with clipper lines on every dog that you clip, look at your equipment first.
Are your blades sharp?
Are your blades clean ?
Is the blade lever on your clipper new, or in good shape?
Is your clipper powerful enough for the blades that you are using?

I ask the last question, because I use a Andis 2 Speed Ultra Edge Clipper.
I don't particularly understand why this clipper is a two speed, because the first speed (lowest speed) s*cks.
I never use the lowest speed.
I would be there all day clipping just one dog.

If the answer is 'yes' to all of the questions above, and the equipment is in good working order, then there is a pretty good chance that the clipper line problems are because of the way the groomer is clipping.

If the is 'no to any or all of the above questions, that could be the cause of clipper line and stair-step problems.

~Clipper lines in a coat can also be caused by clipping to quickly.
~Using too much pressure while running the blade over the coat.
~Not clipping with the growth of the hair.
~Not keeping the skin taunt while running the blade over the coat.

When I was in grooming school, I was taught just one way of clipping.
Start at the back of the neck and run the blade down the back in one continuous sweep of the blade.
Continue making long sweeps with the blade until you have removed all of the hair.
Of course, in the grooming school that I went to, every dog was clipped with a #7 blade or shorter.
If you were getting lines you were told to press harder with the blade, stretch the skin really tight, or go to a shorter blade to smooth the dog out.
Makes me shiver to remember that.

Anyway, I feel that there is not just one way to use clippers on every coat and (dog) body type.
There are so many different coats.
Course, fine, thin, silky, thick, wavy, cottony, cowlicks, and a mixture of all those I just mentioned.

There are actually some nice thick, plushy coats that you can take nice long sweeps with the clipper  (with the growth on the hair) all over the dog and get a nice smooth cut.
Then there are others that you need to clip a little differently.

This coat is somewhat wavy, a mixture of soft and course hair.

It is not too thick or too thin.

This dog is getting a short summer cut with a #5F blade.

First let me say that I only clip clean, dry coats.

This dog has been bathed, HV dryed, brushed and fluffed up, then a comb run through the coat to make sure that all tangles are gone..

The better the coat is prepared before the clip, the nicer finish you will get.

To this day, I do still take that first swipe all of the way down the back to the base of the tail.

I determine, with this first swipe, just how quickly I can run the blade through this particular coat.

If I go too fast, will the blade catch, there will be stair-step marks in the coat, or the blade will just ride over the coat only clipping some of the hair?

The first sweep is where I adjust the speed of my clipping.

This coat clips pretty easily and I can clip it fairly quickly.

But, using long clipping strokes does not work on this coat.

In order to avoid clipper lines, I clip in short strokes, clipping with the growth of the hair.

I do not make any sudden turns with the blade.

If needed, I will place my other hand on the dog to hold (not stretch) the dogs skin still if I feel it moving under the hair with the blade.

When picking up the clipper to make another sweep, lower the blade back onto the dog gently and increase the pressure as you make your stroke, so that you do not dig the blade in each time you start to clip.

I  also like to overlap my strokes.

Don't worry if the cut looks a little choppy while you are clipping the first go over.

This happens with some coats.

If you have some lines, you can back-brush the hair and run the clipper over the coat a second time to smooth coat.

This coat is thick and wiry with a very cottony soft undercoat.

I have to run the blade slowly over this coat to keep from getting lines and stair-steps.

Some groomers may be saying, "clip slow? I have other dogs to groom, why would I want to clip slow?"

The way I look at it is this; I would rather spend a little extra time running the blade over the body slowly to a void the lines and stair-steps in the first place then spend possibly a whole lot of time trying to get the lines out of the coat once they have been clipped into it.

The owner of this Cocker likes a #15 blade used on the back.

I also use short, slow, overlapping strokes to get a nice smooth finish.

The other question was about scissor lines.
The best advice I can give about this is to train yourself to keep your hand as still and steady as you can as you scissors.

"How the h*ll do you keep your hand still while you scissor!?"
"What in the world is she talking about?"

Hold on...I'll try to explain. :)

What I mean is, keep still and steady in the area that you are scissoring.

Ugh....that doesn't make sense.....

Okay, as you scissor, do not lift the scissors with each cut and then try to drop them back down to where you just cut.
Scissor... keeping the scissors in place... move it over slightly... take another cut.

This is what I mean by keeping the scissor still and steady.
Do not keep pulling the scissors away and putting them back to where you are scissoring.
Gliiiiiide your scissors over the coat while keeping them in place.

There....is that a better explanation?
Did that make sense?

I don't tell people how to hold scissors, because I have seen several groomers hold scissors in a way that is strange and painful looking to me, but their scissor work is beautiful.

Something that helped me with scissoring (I am left handed but scissor with my right hand...long story) was to press my hand to a table and then just move my thumb back and forth, keeping the rest of my fingers still, to strengthen my thumb.

After I could do that without my thumb getting tiered, I would then hold my hand in the air and do the same exercise, keeping my four fingers, hand and arm as still as I could while moving only my thumb back and forth.

This helped me to keep my hand still and steady while scissoring, hence no scissor lines.

I hope that this has helped a little. :)

Monday, June 23, 2014


......Not dog faces, but my faces while grooming.

Now, let me say right now, there will be NO pictures of the faces that I apparently make while grooming.
And, if anyone ever tried to take one, I would have to do them bodily harm. ;)

Yes, I have caught myself making faces while I am scissoring, brushing, or just really concentrating on what I am doing.

I never really paid attention to the fact that I do this until my husband came up to me one day and asked; "Is something wrong?"
"No, why?" I asked.
"Why are you making that face?" he answered.
"What face? What are you talking about?"
"You were sticking your tongue out with your face all scrunched up," he told me.
"I was not!!!!" I countered.

My husband started to laugh and tease me for the face that I had apparently been making.

"When did you start doing that?" he asked.
"I..am..not..making..faces!!!" I insisted and went back to work.

My crazy husband.
I had know idea what in the world he thought that I was doing.
I don't make faces while I groom.

Or, so I thought....

Till I caught myself doing it....sticking my tongue out while concentrating on scissoring a leg the next day.
Not a lot.
I mean, I didn't look like one of my furry customers with my tongue hanging out of my mouth.
Just the tip of my tongue was sticking out, and on top of that, I was actually biting down on the tip of my tongue as I concentrated on what I was doing.
As for scrunching up my face like my husband described, I don't think I was doing that.
I don't think.

Now, ever since my husband brought this to my attention, I have caught myself doing this several times during a day of grooming.
Have I always done this??

How many faces do I make?
I have caught myself making a few different ones.
Pressing my lips together tightly.
Making a face at the dog if it is giving me hard time. 

My youngest son used to make faces with the tip of his tongue sticking out while playing PlayStation.
I used to love when he did that, and would just sit and watch him.
He was so cute!

Me....not so much.
I can only imagine what I look like when I make faces grooming.
I also have no desire to see myself either. lol

So, do any other groomers out there make faces while they groom?
Do you know if you do or not?
Maybe you do and don't realize it.

Or.......maybe it is just me.

Oh my josh!! Maybe I have been around dogs too long.
Now I am sticking my tongue out like some of them. :)  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Full Short Feet

Every once in a while I will get a customer in that wants me to take their dogs feet short, but at the same time they want them fluffy.
Then there is the owner like the one that was in today.
They want the feet short but fluffy, and they do not want the toes, or the toe nails to show.

No problem right?

Of course.....on a dog with perfectly tight toes and very short nails!

So, what do you do with a dog whose nails can't be taken as short as you would like to take them, because of a long quick, and toes that splay apart when the dog is standing on its feet.

 These furry feet belong to a Cavalier Spaniel.

She gets clipped with a #4F all over.

My instructions are to take her nails as short as possible, take her feet short, but leave them fluffy.

Also don't let her toes or toe nails show. 

 First I clipped her nails as close as I could which was not as short as I would have liked them to be.

I start trimming her foot by clipping the hair between the pads first with a #40 blade.

The dogs skin type or coloring will help make my decision on whether or not I will just shave the hair even with the pads, (leaving some hair between the pads) or shave the pads out like a Poodle foot.

Because this dogs pads are mostly pink, I leave a little hair between the pads to protect the sensitive skin.

I am also careful not to clip too much hair off the sides and front of the toes.

Even though I am aiming for a fluffy foot, I like to take the hair at the back of the foot pretty short.

This will not effect keeping the rest of the foot fluffy.

When scissoring feet that have toes that splay when you set the foot back down, I like to put the foot down each time after I cut hair, to make sure that I am not cutting too much.

Now I want to scissor only around the bottom edge of the foot.

Here I have scissored about half way around the foot.

I scissored close to the back pad, close to the side pad, leaving the hair a little longer as I go around the front of the toes.

Remember, be conservative with your first cuts, because you do not want to take off too much hair with the first cut.

 Set the foot down again.

Let the dog put its full weight on the foot so that the toes can splay the way they naturally do.

This way you can eyeball how much more hair you can take off when you pick the foot up again to scissor.

 Scissor under the toes at an angle so that the hair close to the nails will be short, but you are still leaving longer hair on the top of the toes.

Blend the back and sides of the foot into the leg.

Set the foot back down and shape up around the edges while the dog has weight on the foot.

This dogs leg and top of the foot are naturally short haired.

The only hair that I have to work with to keep the feet fluffy, and cover the toes and nails, is the hair that grows out between the toes.

Because of the limited mount of hair, I must be very careful not to scissor too much, which is very easy to do. :/

 Once I have rounded off the foot and shaped the edges, I brush the hair up.

I give the foot a little jiggle to let the hair settle naturally, then I set the foot back down on the table.

 Again I make a mental note of how much hair I want to cut.

I pick up the foot again and scissor just a tiny pit of hair to shape up the hair on the top of the toes.

If I cut too much the toes will show.

They're not the prettiest feet, but they are short and fluffy.

And, the toes and toe nails do not show!

Here are all four of the feet.

Hope this helps someone. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Backboard Makeover

Today's makeover is not on a dog, it is on my backboard.

What the heck is a backboard?

It is a life and career saver for me.

I am sure that many of my readers have seen the backboard on my grooming table when I post pictures of dogs.
I built the backboard to help save my back while grooming.

I love my electric grooming table but the top of it is just way too wide.
Personally I have never understood why grooming table tops are so wide.
I mean a groomers wish is for the dogs to stay as still as possible on our tables so that we can safely groom them.
Why give them so much room to move around, or away from the groomer?

 This is all of the extra room left on my table when I push my backboard all of the way to the back edge of the table.

I don't need all of that extra room, even for large dogs.

I know that a lot of groomers like to walk all around their table while grooming, and I like that too...if my table top was narrower.

 My backboard has really saved my back while grooming.
The dogs can no longer insist on standing right at the opposite back edge of the table while I am trying to groom them, causing me to have to stretch my arms and back to reach them.

The backboard keeps the dogs right up close to me.

I just turn the dogs around when I need to groom the opposite side of the dog.

My backboard needed a little makeover.
I t needed a new mat, and the bumpers around the top edges needed to be replaced.

There was also one other thing that I lost when I started using a backboard on my table.
A mirror.
I used to have a mirror on the wall behind my table, but I took it down after the backboard made it useless to me.

Why a mirror?

No, not for the dog to look a him or herself.  lol

The mirror comes in handy to look at the dog while it is being groomed to get another perspective on how the groom looks.

So, I bought these to use on my backboard.

12x12 mirror squares!

I was going to glue them over top of the existing tiles on my backboard.


New mirror tiles.

New mat.

New bumper.

Now I can check out the dog in the mirror as I groom and still use the backboard.

 Wow, I know I have a bad habit of laying my tools on the table, but this picture makes it look even worse. :)

Anyway, the mirror tiles work great while working on small and medium size dogs.

Not as great with large dogs, but that is okay.

I can still check out the legs and feet.

I like it.

I am happy. :) 

Oh, did you notice the tiger striped duck tape down the front edges of the side panels?
I was afraid that the  mirror tile edges might be sharp and did not want to take any chances that a dog gets hurts, so I felt that the funky duck tape was a good idea and fun to look at too.