Monday, October 18, 2010

Random Advice For Aspiring Groomers

Things You Need to Know About Being a Groomer, Totally Off the Top of My Head
  • Toenails will always end up in your bra (if you wear one) and in your hair. You may want to jump up and down and all around before you go home.
  • Never chew gum while grooming unless you want to floss at the same time.
  • Never wear your favourite anything to work. I once even had a puppy eat one of my earrings. I declined to wait for its return.
    • A subset of this would be to avoid light colours and wear a protective apron or smock. Some products like Qwik-Stop will stain fabrics, as will some animal bodily functions.
      • A subset of that would be to not spend too much money on your protective apron or smock. It will, guaranteed, get snagged or snipped or clippered. Pockets always catch on corners and rip. I don’t even know why they have them. The only thing that ever ends up in them is nasty hair and occasionally dog poop.
  • Have a set of undergarments strictly for work. Hair weaves into the fabric no matter how well they are washed, making them a bit prickly for other wear.
  • Regular coffee mugs are unwise. Use travel mugs with a lid unless you want to be horrified when you reach the bottom of your beverage.
  • If you have sensitive skin and eyes think twice about wearing make-up to work. It attracts all the fly-away hair to your face. It can actually drive you insane.
  • The humidity and blow-drying will ensure that you never have a good hair day for long at work.
  • If you can’t wear make-up and your hair doesn’t look great, wow clients with your smile!
  • Always put the lid back on everything immediately. Dogs find it highly amusing to knock over open containers.
  • Always buy the most expensive shears that you can afford to drop on the floor.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why In-Home Mobile Dog Grooming?

An in-home mobile dog grooming service is, in my opinion, ideally suited to two particular groups of people. That is not to say that others would not find the service convenient and beneficial, because I believe they certainly would.  For example, I have busy clients who work from home and are happy to be able to conduct their day without interruption. Others simply like my grooming style. However, there are also those whose pets may, for whatever reason, find leaving the home difficult, inconvenient or stressful. Then there are those owners who themselves have the same challenges.

Many pets are not suited to the scheduling requirements and hustle and bustle of regular grooming salons. Often the most efficient schedule for the salon requires a longer stay for the dog. Some salons can arrange “Express” appointments, but some can not accommodate that request. For safety’s sake, most salons will cage the pets. I don’t disagree with these arrangements as they are often necessary for the business, but they are not ideal for some dogs. Very young or old, ill, sensitive and nervous pets may find a traditional salon stressful. Many are not crate-trained and dislike the cages. This can make some dogs noisy, which can in turn stress others. Some dogs are uncomfortable or fearful in the car, or have motion-sickness.

I have a number of customers who are perfect representatives of the second group. One customer is recovering from surgery. Another is very pregnant with twins. A customer who works shift work was just eating their “breakfast” as I arrived. One poor lady is hobbling around in a boot cast after breaking her ankle. A family’s little girl gets wickedly carsick every time she gets in the vehicle. A few of my older clients don’t drive or are becoming uncomfortable driving. Some clients have had an unfortunate negative experience at another salon and prefer to observe their dog’s haircut, or at least remain nearby.

These clients are able to have their dog groomed in the comfort of their own home by a groomer who does housecalls. They can still wear their “comfy” clothes. They don’t have to call a taxi, twice. They don’t have to get up at 9 a.m. to bring the dog to the groomer after getting home at 6 a.m. They don’t have to make two car trips with a carsick child. They can be confident that their dog is safe.

In-home mobile dog grooming is perfect for these customers. Is this service right for you?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Getting Wet

You can’t be too dainty and be a successful dog groomer. As I mentioned before, grooming comes with a high Yuck Factor. There are bad smells and bodily functions, oozing and stickiness. It is hairy, hot, and humid. A groomer generally doesn’t have a good hair day for long. Most especially, you can’t mind getting wet. I have had days where I end up wet clean through, even down to my socks.

There is a special kind of dog that either has a peculiar sense of humour or a keen sense of fair play. This type is determined that the groomer should be as wet as the dog or the bath is incomplete. They will shake frequently, continuously or, in the case of the smarter ones, strategically. They can not be deterred by a gentle hand on the shoulder or by lifting up one front leg. The dog might be as large as a Newfoundland or as tiny as a Yorkshire Terrier but the size is irrelevant. The big ones can drench a large area with a good shake and the smaller ones learn to slip the grooming restraint and leap into your arms or climb your body when they are at their wettest.

However, I will say that some of my worst and wettest days have been my own fault. I have lost count of the number of times I have dropped the shower nozzle and had it whip around like a wild firehose. Sump-pump style bathing systems are even worse and can make an impressive mess in just a few seconds. Why is it that we always try to catch the hose rather than turn off the water?

In-home grooming has offered a new and exciting way to soak myself. I have been in a great number of bathrooms, most of which are far nicer than my whole house. Many people have renovated their bathrooms to include spa-quality walk-in showers. These huge enclosures have rainfall showers, wall mounted jets, and handheld showers. All of them. In one. I have stood and stared at a half-dozen knobs and dials. Finally, convinced that I have figured out the controls, I make a bold choice, grab the handheld nozzle, turn on the water, and twist a knob.

Generally what happens next is that I am standing directly under the lovely rainfall shower as it comes on. I fumble with the controls, panicked, dodging, dripping, as the dog retreats to the corner of the shower (which can be several feet away in some of these bathrooms) and laughs its head off.

I’ve learned to bring a lot of towels and wear quick-dry clothing, and that's why the ponytail was invented anyway.
Artwork copyrighted by Christopher Cowley, Windchill Studios.