A place for me to share my experiences as a Groomer - both good and bad. I will also give advice to anyone who needs help with dogs and cats with grooming questions.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Have I mentioned I hate Saturdays? XD

So, I'm not posting any pics from Saturday. I just didn't think you would see the changes.

I wound up having only three dogs. Two were old clients - Max, an English Springer Spaniel who was getting a bath and trim, and Rufus, a Shih Tzu that is very good on the table, which is a rare thing as far as Shih Tzu's go. He was getting a bath and trim as well. So no big deals there.

My problem for the day came in the form of Lola, a Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier. Well, it really wasn't Lola that was the problem (although she wasn't a great dog, she wasn't horible either), it was her owner. I was called at home on Thursday (my day off) to be told that Lola's mom wanted to speak with me. She told me that the previous groomer had always made an exception for her and dematted her dog. Given the fact that everyone had told me that the previous groomer shaved every dog, I was inclined to believe her.

We decided that Lola would be dematted and would get a bath and trim.

When I came in to work, I took one look at Lola and wanted to cry. This dog - as far as fur goes - looked hopeless. She was matted on every part of her body; even her privates were matted to her legs. I called the owner and asked if I could shave her. My response was this: My husband will kill me if I bring her home shaved! Please, PLEASE just demat her!

I'm a bit of a sucker. She already knew it was expensive, so I couldn't scare her away with a price tag. I tried the pity route - your dog is going to be in so much pain! - but it didn't work. She didn't seem concerned that Lola was going to be hurt in the process. I gave in.

Now, keep in mind that I only gave in for two reasons: 1-If I don't do it, who KNOWS where she'll go, and who will do what to poor, sweet Lola. 2-These mats were not against the skin. They were half an inch or so away from the skin. Had they been attached to her, I wouldn't have done it. So I went to work.

So, one effect of dematting is time. I had to devote all my time to dematting Lola. Another effect is the dogs' pain. Poor Lola was screaming half the time because some of the mats are in sensitive areas, like her muzzle and stomach. Now, don't get me wrong - I would rather hurt myself than hurt my dog, which is why another effect of dematting is MY discomfort. You can only do so much before your hand starts to cramp up and hurt. Also, my left index finger hurts because I use it as a guard from the dematters' blade as I hold the fur away from the skin. So my hands are quite sore tonight.

Lola is quite smart. She knows how to stop me from doing whatever I'm doing and uses it to her advantage. During one of the times she was trying to stop me from dematting a front leg, I placed a hand on the loop around her neck. I brushed against what I thought was a mat.

It turned out to be a lump.

The first thing I do when I notice a medical problem is check the dogs' chart to see if the problem has already been noticed/recorded. If so, I leave it. If not, I bring it to the attention to one of the doctors. In this case, there was no record of Lola having a lump on the underside of her neck. So I let Dr. Stoyanovich know. She had the girls up front ask Lola's mom if we could run tests on it.

She refused.

Lola wound up having fleas and ticks as well, and she was given a pill for the fleas and a collar for the ticks. But something as important as what could be a tumor? Nothing.

What logic is it that tells you to spend so much on NOT having your dog shaved, but not on checking something out that could be cancer?

I was livid. I sulked around, and everyone agreed with me, but as they say, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." In other words, regardless that I found the lump and advised her, it doesn't mean she's going to have the lump checked out.

In the end, it took me 3 hours total (an hour and a half, a 2 hour break, and then another hour and a half) to demat little Lola. It took me 4 hours total to groom her. The other two dogs took me only 20 minutes each to do, not including the bath. Only on Saturdays...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Aah... Thursday.

*****EDITED***** Apparently, one of the clients didn't appreciate her dog having its' photo taken (are you kidding me? It's a DOG.), and threatened me with legal action if I didn't take down his photos, so they're not there anymore. Sorry. -Rita

Thursday is my favorite day. Know why? Because I have Friday off. Then I work Saturday, and have Sunday off. But it was also a good day because one of my favorite dogs came in today. But I'll tell you about him later. ;o)

So, first I handled Baby, a little female Shih Tzu whose right eye is missing. I think you can only tell in the 'after' pic, and even then, it looks like she's winking, lol. She's sweet,

and has a 'brother' that is a Chihuahua. Regardless, once again, this is another client that just prefers her dog with short hair, so that there isn't much hair in the house (although I suspect the Chihuahua sheds more). After shaving her, she got a special bath in a Tee Tree Oil shampoo (she has bad skin), and finished up. In the after photo, you can clearly see that she's missing an eye, but she's perfectly happy without it.

After Baby, I started working on one of my favorite dogs. Tony Montana (that's right). He's a Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier. I've always wondered why they call them that, when there is no other version of a Wheaton, only a Doft-Coated version. ^^ Anywho, Tony Montana is VERY well behaved, and very smart. He's not very large, but large enough that I lower the table to get him up there.

Tony's mom, Mrs. Rishkes, is one of THOSE people. I was 'warned' about her before Tony came in the first time, and dreaded her and the dog. But in reality, after meeting both, Mrs. Rishkes was only concerned for her dog. Apparently she had never been happy with any groomer that had touched him. She complained that people never listened to her and always cut him the way they wanted. So I assured her I was trained well, she told me what she wanted, and left Tony in my hands. What you need to know is that there is a certain way the Wheaton Terrier is supposed to be cut - it is unique to their breed (for pets, I mean. The show dogs are natural) and not everyone has been trained for them since they're kind of rare.

The thing is, Mrs. Rishkes doesn't like Tony to be cut like he should be. Instead, I basically do a puppy cut, and do a 'teddy bear' face. There wasn't much of a difference when I was done. I cut Tony only a month ago, and for dogs with hair like his I recommend only getting cut every 8 weeks. A "bath & trim" can be done in between to keep them smelling good and knot-free. So it was unecessary, yet she was impatient to have him cut again. So he basically looks the same, except neater.

*sigh* Oh well. See you guys Saturday!

If anyone wants to know: Tony M. - I used an Oster 1/2" comb over a #40 blade for his body/legs, used the 40 to clean around his eyes, and scissored his head, face, legs and feet. Baby - I used an Andis #7f ceramic blade on her body, a #5f on her head/face.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A slow day...

Today was a slow day. I only had two dogs, Cha Cha, an old Long Haired Chihuahua, and Buddy, a Shih Tzu mix. There really wasn't much to do with Cha Cha, so I'm only showing Buddy off.

Buddy is perhaps a Shih Tzu/Terrier cross. He has a 'brother' named Noodles, who I've done before as well - but Noodles lookes like a gigantic Wirehaired Dachshund. But that's another story...

Mrs. Gaer likes to keep both her dogs short, to minimize upkeep and shedding. Some might say that Buddy is cuter when he's fuzzy, but it's not my place to say. So, at Mrs. Gaer's request, I shaved Buddy. Now normally, with a cute face like his, I would give him what's called a "round" face, or "teddy bear" face. But again, she likes him like this. I cut his face as she instructed me to. The only hair she wanted him to have was "his ears, a little beard, and his tail - it's his best feature." LOL Whatever. Personally, I like when someone trusts me and says, "just do whatever you think. You know better than me how to make him cute!" And yes, I've had a few customers like that. They're always my favorite. :)

Anyways, this is what Buddy looks like now. If you're interested, I used Oster blades, #10 on his body, #7F on his head and to trim down his face.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Natasha and Nikki

This is Natasha. I told you a little about her in my last post - she was boarding with us while her parents were on Christmas vacation. She had been with us for about a week now, and she was so ready to go home. She knows she gets a bath right before she gets picked up, so she was full of energy. Natasha is a little old, so she's arthritic. I leave her on the floor because the stress of putting her on the table is unnecessary when I can just sit on the floor with her. All that fur on the table is hers; I had to take the hair off the brush 3 times, so there are 3 piles. She's a Golden Retriever, so it's natural that she sheds a lot. You can't really see it, but there's also some hair on the floor where I shaved the hair from in between her pads and trimmed her butt and feet. Anywho, just thought you would like to see one of the dogs...

And this is Nikki. She actually belongs to the head Vet Tech at Sky Lake. So she's a really frequent customer. Nikki is a Bichon Frise, and one of the first things Losa (Nikki's owner) said to me was, "Can you do a Bichon?" I laughed and told her yes. Apparently, the last groomer wasn't very 'technically trained'. That means she wasn't trained to do the technical cuts: Bichon, Scotties, Poodles, Cockers, Schnauzer, Westies, and so on. So the first time I did Nikki, Losa kept coming in and taking pictures as I bathed, brushed, and cut her. When I was done, she couldn't stop telling me what a great job I did. Personally, I thought her first time, she looked like crap, but that's because her mom had taken a chunk out of her bangs, and it needed time to grow out, lol. But it's grown out now, and this was her second time getting a haircut from me. As you can see, Nikki (and this is how all Bichon SHOULD look) has tightly curled hair on her body and head (the tail is straight for the most part). And if you don't brush them, they look messy. Losa keeps Nikki short for two reasons: 1, it's easier upkeep - you don't have to really worry about mats and whatnot. 2, this is Miami. A lot of owners keep their dogs short because the second you walk outside, you wanna come right back in... Anywho, I didn't take much off, just enough to make her neat-looking. And she's a good dog for the most part. I also have a close-up of her face, because Bichon have a specialized face - it's supposed to be round, like a ball. Of course, because she's a pet, it's not perfect, but I think she looks OK. I don't put bows on Nikki (her mom keeps a bandana on her), but one day I'll show you guys some of the dogs I put bows on. If anyone wants to know, I gave her a puppy cut using an Andis 5/8" blade. For now, that was my Monday. I hope you enjoyed!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Saturdays... ugh...

So for me, Mondays and Saturdays are the worst. Mondays, because any dog that has been boarding over the weekend is going home. But that's another story; when I have a good Monday story, I'll let you know. ;o)

Saturdays are bad because they're very unpredictable. Many people work during the week and don't want the hassle of dropping off/picking up during the week. So they opt for Saturday. Then, by some odd cosmic fate, the ones that come in on Saturday are the hardest, meanest dogs. Or, their owners are, lol. On top of that, sometimes people wake up on Saturday morning and think to themselves, "Ugh, it's Saturday. I don't want to get up. I'll bring (insert pet's name here) to the groomers' on my next day off..." And the best part? They don't call to tell me, so I can rearrange my schedule. Also, we close early on Saturdays, which either means I have to do less dogs, or work quicker.

My day was supposed to include 6 dogs: the Forte dogs (two medium-sized longhaired German Shepard-like mixes with a lot of hair - they're frequent customers), the Schmueli dogs (two Shih Tzu's, a long-haired and short-haired, also frequent), Boomer (a Shih Tzu that needs to be sedated to be groomed since he is too aggressive), and Natasha (a Golden Retriever that is being boarded and - yep, that's right - is going home early on Monday).

When I arrived, the Forte's and Schmueli's were already there. I got straight to work, washing Sher (yep, it's pronounced Cher), the female Shih Tzu first. She has long, thin, silky hair, so I knew she would dry quickly. The Schmueli's were only in for a 'Bath and Trim' - for me, that means I wash and dry them, brush them, and trim around their face, feet and eyes, give them a sanitary trim (around their privates), and even up any stray hairs that might be running amuck. These dogs ALWAYS come in looking - and smelling - awful. And while Sher has long (to her feet) hair, Max has short hair - mostly because I just shaved him about 3 weeks ago. He had been matted, and I was luck to save what little coat I could. So, they should be easy, right?

After I had washed Max (the male Shih Tzu), I brought out Dusty Forte. He's a male, blue-and-tan shepard mix, but he has really thick, Husky-like hair. So I usually wash him first, so he has longer drying time. With 3 baths down, I had a dilemma: no more cage space by the dryers. Unfortunately, the same large cages I use for drying are also the same ones the kennel personnel use for boarding. So I asked Lulu, a friend and kennel worker what we could do.

We wound up moving Billy, a young, sweet, calm Golden Retriever into the cats' boarding room. The Cat Boarding room is also where our bathtub, washer and dryer, and holding cages are. It's quieter there for the cats, but Billy is so great, the cats don't even notice he's there. With a large cage free, I was able to do Paige - Dusty's sister. She looks almost identical, except she doesn't have as thick a coat, and she is black-and-tan. I save her for last, because she has the opposite personality as Dusty: whereas my boy is calm, sweet, and obediant, she is hyper, unruly, and won't usually listen to me.

With all 4 dogs done, I finally went up to the front desk to mingle as my dogs were drying (I had no more dryers left, anyways). I asked the girls (the receptionists) if there were any more scheduled for the day, and they told me no - except that Boomer, the aggressive Shih Tzu, hadn't shown. And that was strange; well, for his mom, it was. So I was down to 5 total dogs.

Now I had to worry about where I was going to dry Natasha, as she was a large dog as well. After some consideration, I decided to come in early on Monday instead, and do her then - I would hate for her to dirty herself by Monday anyways. Now I was down to 4.

I started to get excited - after all, I would be able to go home early (I had plans that night). I took Sher out, and took all the knots in her long, white and tan fur. She's a good dog on the table. It took approxamately 45 minutes to get Sher in tip-top condition. I put her back in a holding cage and went up to the front desk. Sher and Max are well-known for their... untidy habits. So I told the girls to call the Schmueli's and have them pick up soon - Max would only take 15 minutes to finish.

I took out Max and 10 minutes later, another friend and kennel worker, Pedro, came into my room to let me know that Sher had pooped all over her cage, stepped in it (all 4 paws!), and proceded to produce artwork. That is, she placed her colorful footprints all over the walls and floor of the cage. *sigh*

Five minutes later, I was finished with Max and went to inspect the damage. Sher had imprinted her paws in the cage Pedro had moved her to as well. That made 2 cages I had to clean. Plus, I had to rebathe her. Lucky for me, she dries quickly. But... their owners had been called to pick up the dogs. I was NOT going to call them again to say, "Haha! Never mind! April Fool's! Don't come here!".

After that was taken care of, I brought Paige out. Hyper as she is, there wasn't much to do besides brush her out and clip her nails. So then I got Dusty out. He's a little more time-consuming, since he sheds so much and has a thick undercoat. So I used a shedding blade (a tool that has a curve of teeth - it pulls out dead hair and undercoat) and my trusty ol' slicker brush, and half an hour later, Dusty was back in a cage.

Lucky for me, just as I finished Dusty, Mrs. Schmueli came by. I was overjoyed. It's a shame, really. They're such good little dogs that I hate feeling that way about them - but it's necessary and they went home clean (although by now they're probably filthy again).

I was gabbing to some of my coworkers about our plans for later that night when Mrs. Forte came to pick up the dogs. Suddenly, the dogs switch personalities. Dusty, my calm, sweet boy, gets excited. "I'm going home! I'm going home! Homehomehomehomehome..." My excitable PaigeyPoo decides, "OK, mom is here. All is well." And they walk out the door. By the time I leave, it's half an hour to close, and I feel exhausted, especially since there had been some drama in the hospital today. Tempers were flaring, and moods were swinging. Of course, I have some clashes as well (I don't really answer to anyone, since I am my own department, and some people are jealous of that). But I try to ignore them, and just do my job.

Just another day in the Groomer Diaries.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Well, I don't know who's reading this, but if you are, I thank you for taking the time to do so! Let me tell you a little about myself.

My name is Rita; I have two cats: Bagheera, a female domestic shorthair, and Toby, a male Maine Coon. They're both about five years old. I say about because they're both rescues. Gheeri (Bagheera, for short) was rescued from our local Humane Society, and Toby was a Breeder-gone-wrong subject. He used to be a showcat/stud, but his breeder had so many cats, people had to help her find homes; we were happy to give him one. :o)

I also have a dog - a Cavalier King Charles named Georgie. He's about to be 8 months old. He's a great little dog, and loves the cats (although Gheeri can't stand him!). He's coming along quite well when it comes to training; I've also been working with him "on the table" (grooming table, that is) since I got him.

I'm married to a car enthusiast - luckily he loves animals, too. We've been married for about 7 months now, but have been together for over 6 years. We live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. If you don't know, it's close to Miami.

And, for the most important part, my work: I have a great job. I work as the Groomer at Sky Lake Animal Hospital in Miami. I have the best boss, the greatest co-workers, and some awesome clients (as well as some naughty ones, lol). I'll be putting up the link to our website soon. I've been grooming for a total of 4 years, off and on. Mostly at PetsMart. This is my first time grooming at an Animal Hospital.

Mainly, I'm here to share my stories - sometimes I have a hard time with my job, whether it's because of the condition of the animal, or getting attached and finding out the animal was euthanized, or sometimes the animal is just MEAN. But mostly, I'd like to share the good stories, some before/after pictures, and even advice. That's right - if you would like a question answered that has to do with grooming, let me know! I advise new puppy owners almost every day on how to treat the skin/coat and how to train their puppy so it's not a royal pain in my ass when they finally get it groomed, LOL. You can also email me, if you would rather not ask your question in the blog.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this, and I hope to see you all in the blogs of The Groomer Diaries!