Monday, January 12, 2009

Being a groomer, then and now

This spring marks my 28th year as a groomer! (28 years, good grief, am I really getting that old?? No wonder my hands and back hurt!)
Being in the business that long, I have learned quite a bit, not only about dogs, but people as well. Thinking back over nearly 3 decades (Oh Lawd, again with the age thing! Sheesh!) of grooming, I realize that old saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same" is most certainly true. Today, I'm writing about some of those "things".
Overall, the way folks take care of their dogs now has most definitely improved, for the most part, dogs are more like family now, rather than just another possession.

For instance, I remember when 8 out of 10 dogs I groomed would be covered and I do mean covered with fleas! Now, that number is more like 2 out of 10.
I rarely see a dog that is severely matted anymore. Years ago, it seemed like all we did was shave a dog down to the skin to remove what felt like 5 pounds of matted hair, and hope like crazy that we weren't going to find rotting sores or maggots underneath all that mess. (yes, I've actually seen a dog that ended up dying because of maggots, but that's another story) I rarely see those Once a Year dogs either. Most of the dogs I see now are on an every 6 weeks schedule.
Dogs seem to be living longer lives now than they were years ago, as well. Another good thing since I do tend to get attached to my little furry customers.
Those things have certainly changed for the better! :)
Now some things that haven't changed (only the names have been changed to protect the guilty) *wink*

1) People thinking since I groom dogs it's not really work, I'm just having fun playing with puppies all day.
NOT!! Try having a dog pulling on you constantly, or running all around the table, or sitting down and you having to hold them up with one hand and clip with the other. If being pooped on, peed on, puked on, getting bit, having anal glands expressed on you, getting bit, getting scratched, getting bruised to the point you look like a prize fighter, did I say getting bit? If all that means I'm playing with puppies all day, then I must be doing something wrong, cause sometimes it just ain't no fun! It's also not fun to ache the way I do at the end of the day (please do not bring up my age again)
2) People making appointments and then just not showing up or calling to cancel.
I hate that! Throws my whole schedule off for the rest of the day, that sort of thing has been going on for years, and when I call to find out where they are, the answer is still the same today as it was 20 years ago, "Oh I forgot, I didn't know I was supposed to call" Do they do this to their Doctors, or at the Vet's or for their own hair appointment? I doubt it.
3) People wanting to dicker about my price like I'm some sort of flea market or something.
My price is what it is for a reason. No, I don't give discounts because someone has more than one dog, or because they "have been coming to me for years" or because they knew my mother, or because they know my husband, or because so and so only charges $XX can't you match that? (Hello, do I look like Wal-Mart?) The list goes on and on and on. Each year, folks seem to come up with yet another reason why they should get a discount. Hey, I do the same amount of work on each dog whether you have 2 or 10, it takes the same amount of time per dog to make them look nice. I also don't take payments, I am not a bank.
4) People telling me how to groom.
I don't mean how they want the dog groomed, I mean telling me how to go about grooming. Well, if you already know more than I do about grooming, why are you bringing it to me in the first place?
5) People blaming me for the health or condition of their dog.
Dogs come in here with ear infections, ear mites, bad skin, broken toenails, moles etc. And I usually will tell the owner if I find something like that, give them a "Vet Ref" card telling them (and the vet) just what I found during the grooming and suggest they take the dog to the vet. Once they do, most people are grateful that I found something they knew nothing about, but others swear to the heavens above that I gave it to their dog! Especially if what I found will cost them money at the vets office.

So there you have it, my Top Five Things That Will Never Change. But before you ask yourself, or me for that matter, why do I still do this for a living, the answer is simple...I love it! I love my little customers, I love being able to make a little dog feel better just by being pampered, I love to watch them prance around showing off when they are done, and I can't see myself ever doing anything else. One of my favorite sayings is "The more I know of people, the more I love my dog" I love being able to take a little dog that looks horrible, and turn it into a thing of beauty, when I can sit back, look at the dog I just groomed and see what I created, it makes all those "things" worth while. (See what I mean?)

Puppy hugs and treats to ya'll,

(Dogs in this post, Bandit, our little Shih Tzu that went to the Rainbow Bridge last year, Bear, the Pomeranian who is really just a little man in a dog suit, Rascal, our Cockapoo, Pooch, our Toy Poodle, and Pongo before and after)


Mari said...

Congratulations on doing this for all those years. That means you must be really good at what you do. I loved your list. It tells me that people are people regardless of where they are. It is good to hear about the improvement in the care of animals.

AndreaLeigh said...

i admire the work that groomers do b/c it is a dirty, hard, and often thankless job! george and jc are pretty low maintnance b/c of their short hair. i bathe them myself. i do have them groomed when they stay at the kennel though. the anal glads alone are worth it! :)

did i mention it is a hard and thankless job? god bless you. :)