Sunday, August 26, 2012

Two Poodles, One Haircut

My friends Lou and Maggie are two very pretty chocolate Standard Poodles. They are, as is usual for Standard Poodles, very well-behaved for their grooming, although Maggie is very nosey and has a tendency to stick her face in whatever I am doing at the time. They are true Poodles, and run, play, wrestle and get wet and dirty like it is going out of style. There is a misconception of Poodles as fussy, prissy dogs, and this could not be further from the truth. They were bred as retrievers, sporting dogs, and have a keen intelligence and sense of humour. Lou is a terrible hide and seek player though; I can spot him under the kitchen table right away.

Although their appearance is similar, Maggie and Lou have very different coats. Lou has the typical springy curls of a Poodle, and his coat fluffs up beautifully when it is blow-dried. Maggie on the other hand has what I would call, if she were a Portugese Water Dog, a wavy coat. Since she is not a PWD, I will be honest and call it floppy, and it matts. Maggie’s feelings will not be hurt if I am honest since she and I are straight shooters. Also, Stn. Poodles naturally believe in their innate superiority so I’m pretty sure Maggie would envision her waves as a kind of Farah Fawcett ‘do.

My normal approach to grooming is to pop everyone in the bath first. Working on a clean dog is best, and means that you don’t have to repeat your work and make two messes. Lou and Maggie have been having an awesome summer however, and were a bit longer than usual. This meant that I would approach them a bit differently. Their final haircuts were the same.

Lou had his bath first, with two shampoos. Actually, it was a shower. Lou and Maggie have a great walk-in shower, so I roll up my yoga pants and get in there with them. With my long apron, I stay quite dry, unless I turn around at the wrong moment and the dog shakes. Then I have a damp tush for a little while, but yoga pants dry pretty quickly. I used a chamois to absorb the water and then towel dried Lou. I put another towel underneath him to help catch the water that I am blowing off while using my high velocity dryer. 

My HV is a big one, a old Lange. It only leaves home for Lou and Maggie and I’m pretty sure that their dad is hoping it will die and I’ll get a smaller one. He helps me carry it up and down the stairs. My Lange does a great job though and is much quieter than other HV’s. Lou has a nice coat, and the HV quickly blows apart any light matting that he may have. Next, I took a smaller dryer and a brush over him. I then combed the coat up. When he is finished, he looks huge and fluffy.

Next, I clipped Lou’s face, feet, sanitary areas and the base of his pom-pom tail. I used a #30 blade on his face, feet and tail, and a #10 blade on his bits and bobs. The clean face makes him start to look like a Poodle again. His nails are also trimmed.

I clippered his body with a #7F blade, which is quite short. There is still a lot of summer left here in Ontario. A nice short clip will help to keep Lou and Maggie cool and clean.

I scissored the legs to blend with the body, and trimmed up the tail. This is a pet trim, so I don’t go for the exaggerated angulation that is currently in style. This is more of a Poodle meets a teddy bear, cuter than a plain kennel clip.

His head is scissored to match, and Lou is all done. Lou stands like a rock for his groom and his coat is fun to scissor. 

Maggie’s coat is wavy, floppy and soft. Her dad likes the feel of her soft coat and I can tell because Maggie usually has a good sized matt on the top of her head, right where she is petted. Her coat matts quite a bit more than Lou’s and the HV loosens but doesn’t remove the tangles. She is also younger than Lou and while still excellent on the table, less inclined to put up with my nonsense. 

This means that I approached Maggie’s groom a little differently. Maggie has been “roughed in”. I’ve clippered her face, feet, sanitary areas, base of tail and body prior to the bath. This gave me less to wash and dry, making it faster for Maggie. 

Maggie also received two shampoos and she is much better at getting me all wet than her brother. She likes to wait until I bend all the way down to wash her legs, then shakes and gets me right in the face. So don’t let her sad, bedraggled state fool you. She already had her revenge.

Maggie is HV’d and fluffed, just like Lou. She needed a bit more brushing, due to her tangles, especially in the the head and chest. She looked like she was wearing leg warmers when we finished. 

I didn’t show this with Lou, but I skim off some of the hair with the clippers before I scissor-finish. I used a Wahl #2 comb over a #30 blade to skim and sculpt a bit. This makes scissoring a bit easier because most of the bulk is gone.

I re-clippered Maggie’s body, face and feet quickly to tidy any bits that were sticking out. Then I scissored her legs and tail. She does not end up with as plush a finish as Lou due to her waviness. This can test me when I’m in a perfectionist mood.

Finally, I scissor Maggie’s head and she can join her brother. She gave us a play-bow before she galloped upstairs to find him.