12 May 2009

I'm still here. wow. I can't believe it's been this long. I will come back soon, so keep an eye out.

17 December 2008


06 May 2008

Oy Vey

I went to MS&W last weekend with the task to get everything I needed to tune up Mom's old spinning wheel. I got the repair kit and some more spinning fodder, and I was all ready to go. I got home and realized my bag of hardware to put the thing together was missing. D'Oh! Sadly, that means the time I spent taking the wheel apart, lugging the pieces onto the airplane, and all the pain they put me through for that, was wasted. I have no wheel. This picture represents the pieces that were supposed to SAVE me tons of money by not having the thing shipped. But now I have no idea if I'll be able to replace them at any price.


More about the Show and a Question!

I will continue to be an avid watcher and commenter on the Groomer Has It show, so bear with me if I seem to be fixated. I really just am.

So many commenters on the show's blog have complained that they haven't seen enough "real" grooming. Well boy howdy you're gonna see it next week when they bring in the cats. That is one I'm really looking forward to. Actually I've said that every week so you might say I really like the show. You'd be right.

My theory on why groomers (I assume the ones who complain are strictly shop groomers, but I don't really know) have complained is that they don't show day-to-day grooming life on the show. I think people were expecting to see a documentary on grooming in a shop that handles 50+ dogs a day where the dogs are seen twice a year and sometimes on holidays. That's not what the show is for. It is a contest to see who is the best showman. They're competing in a different realm from the shop experience. I worked for several years at a grooming factory and I know that it is hard and also very rewarding when you look back at your week and say "I groomed 30 dogs, 5 cats and squeezed in 8 puppies without a single accident or complaint". I don't know if these competitors would last a day under those sweatshop conditions. But I know that you cannot ask for the level of quality in a place like that. That's what the show is about. They want to see quality grooming, high levels of creativity and performance under pressure. That's what makes the groomer of the year. The personal drama is what happens as a side effect when you put such highly driven individuals together. They each have a strong personality and an enormous sense of pride in they're creation. It's hard to stand there and be judged by someone. It's tough coming from a client after you just worked on Fuff-Fuff (actual former client's name....yeah I know) for two hours straight and they're nit-picking over every single hair and clipper mark even though they know full well that Fuff-Fuff is a snapdragon. But for three perfect strangers to tear you down and then come back home and your fellow competitors insult you and then months after it's all said and done random people who watched only bits and pieces of it to scathe and chastise and remark....it can't be easy for those folks. Listen groomers. All I'm saying is give those guys and gals a break. They're doing what they can do and don't forget this is in the past for them. The show's over, we're watching this months after it actually happened and I can't believe some of the things people have said about this whole thing. It's supposed to be fun and entertaining and to make you think and wonder "How did they do that?" There is so much negativity going around on that blog I just wanna wag my finger at many of them and say "Didn't your mother tell you...." You know?

Well I love the show. I'll keep watching and commenting on the blog and visiting the website every day, and I hope hope hope there's a second season because I'll blow this competition out of the water.

Oh! I got a question!! Yay!

Muddy asked:
Curious what your thoughts are about sedation during grooming?
Well, I have a unique situation. The short answer is I don't like it. I work only part time and I run my salon pretty much as if it were mobile. I only do one dog at a time, and I do consider that in itself a premium service. Each pet gets one-on-one my undivided attention (that is as long as my 3 year old allows). Because I focus on only one dog at a time, my atmosphere stays very relaxed and tranquil. I can play soothing music, use aromatherapy, massage, anything necessary to relax the dog. I also charge by the hour, which is absurd and no groomers do this. But I feel that an hourly rate (assuming your clients trust you not to abuse it, which mine do) is self regulating in that if you need more time to deal with a fidgety puppy or a crotchety old snapdragon your extra time and trouble is worked in for you. I use a timer which I pause if I need a break to attend to my daughter, or take a potty break, and start again when I get back to work.

This may shock you, especially some groomers: I don't own a muzzle. I don't. I believe they cause more stress and reinforce biting habits. By covering the dog's mouth you render his bites harmless, but you'll be more tempted to ignore the biting behavior rather than correct it which in turn leads to more biting. I demand certain things from my dogs, and from my very few clients who have troublesome dogs. One: the dog may not jump, sit, or stand without permission. Two: the dog may not be off lead. Three: the owner must not address nervous behavior. Four: I will not groom a dog that I cannot control. The most important thing is number four. I have to put safety first. I am consistent with these rules and so far I've not had to send anyone away. I can groom dogs that have been fired from several groomers for bad behavior. I feel very strongly that if a dog is too dangerous to be groomed without a muzzle then off to the vet he should go.

I love Caesar Millan, and I believe every word he says. Many of the techniques he uses on his clients mirror the way I've handled dogs since I was 3 years old. You NEVER let a dog control the situation. YOU are the human HE is the dog. There is NEVER and excuse for a dog's bad behavior, or for letting the dog have his way. IT IS A DOG!!! I've heard it all: My dog was abused/traumatized/quicked at the last groomer's/ heart carved out with a spoon...WHATEVER! Get over it! The dog is already over it. That's why we keep dogs. That's why they're man's best friend. No matter what happens the dog is there FOR YOU! You don't need to compensate for things that happened to him because the dog doesn't CARE!!!

Honestly. The dog's whole life revolves around the owner. His life begins when you come home and ends when you leave for work. As the master YOU are responsible for the quality of life he has while you're there.

As a parent it is my responsibility to make sure that my daughter has friends and exercise and education in her life. I have to teach her the appropriate reactions to stress, fear and anger. I have to teach her about chain of command and respect toward her elders because these skills will help her have a balanced, normal, happy life. She needs rules, boundaries and limitations to learn these things. The same is true for dogs. They are social creatures living in our society. They have to be taught to follow our rules.

I don't know your dog, Muddy, or why the groomer at the vet saw fit to sedate your dog for grooming, so don't be offended, none of that was directed toward you. This is my thing: know your groomer. I'm proud of you for grooming your dog at home. It's a difficult job and I applaud you for doing it. It's very rare that a pet parent is determined enough to learn how to do it, and persistent enough to keep it up month after month. On the occasions when you do need to use a professional groomer, know who you're dealing with. You are the employer and the groomer is the prospective employee. Ask questions about the groomer's training, experience, philosophy, habits, anything that's important to you. Look at their portfolio, ask for references, tour the salon. All these things should be made available to you. If a groomer is not cooperative, or is asking you why you want to know or don't you trust me? Run. Every good groomer knows that these dogs are not just dogs, they are family and you want to protect your family and make sure you are putting your baby in good hands. I even welcome pet parents into my salon to watch. I don't believe in hiding what I do and I don't believe that having the owner present is risky.

There are some dogs who do have serious behavior issues, and require extra attention and, in only the most severe cases, sedation. But sedation is only a temporary solution. I'm talking here about a dog whose only objective is to kill a human. Sedation should NEVER be used on a dog just because it's wiggly or nippy. There are ways to control and rehabilitate the dog (and as Caesar says, train the people) so that sedation is not necessary. It all starts with a change in the HUMAN. You can't force a permanent change in your dog's behavior without changing your behavior first. If the groomer is unstable, or the owner is unstable, the dog will not trust them, and the dog will be unstable. In my experience, having a stable groomer can mostly compensate for having an unstable owner. Again, Muddy, I am not passing judgment on you, I'm not even talking about you right now because I don't know you or your unique situation.

Based on Muddy's comment in the last entry, it sounds like sedation was probably not necessary, but it might have been prevented if you'd asked more questions before dropping off your dog. Another thing: Sedation should NEVER be used by someone who is not a medical professional. I've been asked many times if I sedate my dogs and the answer is always the same: "I am not medically trained to administer any drugs of any kind to your pet." Followed by "If I can't control your dog without a muzzle, since I don't own one, I can refer you to a vet who does grooming." It's not dangerous if done by a professional, but I think in most cases it's probably not necessary if the groomer is able to devote enough time and energy to your dog. For many groomers, the biggest obstacle is time. It's faster to slap a muzzle on a dog, than to work on his behavior and teach the dog not to bite. Also, many groomers ignore the warning signs (or just don't know them) of a biter. Very rarely will a dog bite with absolutely no warning.

Well, I can't imagine a more long-winded answer than that, but I hope it helps. Just remember that your dog is very tuned in to your behavior, so the next time you take him to the groomer put your negative feelings aside. Completely. Make yourself as light-hearted as if you were going to the park or to the puppy bakery. Your dog will love going to the groomer if you genuinely love taking him there.

27 April 2008

Groomer Has It

I spent so much time writing the comment on this week's show I just had to share it with you:

First issue: Ears. I've tried the cotton in the ears, but mostly I don't find it necessary. Only when the dog has tiny rose ears do I attempt the cotton, and usually they shake it out before the first rinse anyway. Jorge did give the wrong answer when the vet asked him about it, though. The thing to do if there's a chance water got in the ears (which it won't if you hold the ear canal closed while rinsing which J could have also explained to the vet), is to put a drop or two of ear cleaner in and let them shake it out in the tub. Malissa knew it was a mistake to leave powder in the ears and she admitted it, but she was wise to not say that to the judges. This is a game, and I may not like her, but she played her hand well by covering up her oversight. Sometimes you just forget something. With Artist's puppy, I have to wonder if he did everything in his power to make the plucking less painful. I could see that he was yanking quite fast (like you would to remove a bandage or eyebrow wax). This works for some dogs, but some need to have the hair pulled three strands at a time and in a very slow motion. He did not give the right answer to the judge when asked if the puppy would be likely to enjoy the next grooming. He could have said that the next ear plucking would be less painful now that the deeply rooted hair was gone, so yes.

One thing Malissa did which no one seemed to pick up on was when she told the owners they should not stay and watch her work on their dog. These are the babies of the family and of course the owner wants to stay! I see no reason they should not be allowed and even encouraged to watch their baby being groomed for the first time, or every time if they wish! They should be taught to follow the rules, though: no touching, no talking to/using the baby's name, and no direct eye contact; in sum, they cannot do anything to attract the dog's attention. Every groomer here is going to scold me for saying that, but there's no better way to earn your client's trust that you are caring for their baby the best you can than to let them stay. It may be harder for some dogs to pay attention to the groomer if Mommy is right there, but the dog WILL relax and even forget the Mommy is there. I'd prefer that to a pet-parent refusing to groom Fluffy for 12-18 months because she can't bear to be separated.

The time limit is reasonable. Go ahead and hate on it if you will, but that's what the trade calls for. At my retail chain-store job, we were expected to groom any dog under 6 months old for $15 in 30 min regardless of breed. That was the norm. I know they are puppies, but let's face it: they're puppies. No one expects the first groom to be flawless, but it should be complete. If you could spend 90 min on just one dog and not worry about answering phones, checking dogs in or out, or working on the other five or more dogs that are barking their heads off in the crate, what a wonderful world you would live in. I fought with other groomers constantly not only about the time, and the cost, but I had to prove to them time and again that you CAN put clippers on a first time pup without them freaking out. I feel that Jon had ample time to, at the very, least get a brush through his dog, and if the dog was truly matted and it had been impossible to brush out in the time given he could have done a shave with that glorious clippervac you can see at each station. And let's talk about his stressed demeanor. Part of the job is keeping cool under pressure. If all the other groomers kept their composure and he didn't, all other things being equal he'd be out. That may be one of the things that kept Will in it last week. He did not let his yelping dog get him flustered. I'm sorry he had to go, but I think that since his groom was incomplete it was the right choice.

I do disagree about his dog's eye. If you look at the dog before grooming he had tear stains. After grooming the stains were apparent in only one eye (to me). I don't think the vet was fair with him on that. I'm glad that Xavier stood up to her on that point.

If you've made it this far, thank you. I'm almost done. Will seems so over dramatic and calculated to me. I find it hard to trust him. Talking to Danny B. he sounded like a 4 am infomercial. Then the way he was overtly coddling and kissing on his dog made me wonder. Not that I think you shouldn't be affectionate while grooming, especially pups, but something about him seemed contrived.

Jonathan is still my favorite!

21 April 2008

Oh My Dog!

I wish wish wish I had been able to go on "Groomer Has It" I so would have rocked the whole show.

The first challenge was the one where they had to name the breeds of several dogs blindfolded..I totally would have won that...well I might have missed the Aussie. I'm not sure I would have gotten that one. The next challenge was the model dog "creative" trim. Let me just say that no one could have beaten my creative vision on that challenge. I also have an advantage because I competed with the yarn dog before and I won THIRD PLACE! I know, I shouldn't sound so excited over 3rd, but I BEAT a Groom Team USA champion, 2nd place went to another Groom Team Vet and First went to a girl who was at the Las Vegas model dog show. Oh I soooooo would have won.

Then the second week was the sheep shearing challenge.. I had sheep and I know how to handle them even if I've never actually sheared one. Also, no one does a smoother shave down than me! NOBODY! The beardie challenge would have been no contest again! I've been grooming full coated briards regularly (2x a month) for over a year! Oh I wish I wish I wish!!! I could win that contest I know it!

Oh well.... next year.

27 January 2008


I have not a lot to look forward to tomorrow. The biggest, hairiest, rowdiest, mattedest dog in my book is coming for the first time in months. Her owner means well, I know, but somethings are not worth the fight. She insists that she can handle brushing out her full coated, never been trimmed Old English Sheepdog on her own. And what's more she also washes her at home! OH THE HORROR!!

I could go on for days about this woman. Like the way she always complains that she can't afford my prices, but she won't go anywhere else because I'm the best. Or how about when she moans about her injured shoulder but refuses to concede that her dog needs to be cut down? I better stop before this becomes an all out bitch-fest.

Wish me luck.