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Rating Dog Personalities

blogrYou have a new client on the books. It’s a Lhasa/Maltese mix – or in the new world of designer dogs, it’s a “Lhatese.” The client arrives precisely 15 minutes late. She’s dressed to the nines and everything matches… even the dog.

The dog’s name? You guessed it…

…Precious.

You know you’re in trouble.

If you’re a one groomer salon, you can keep the personalities of all your canine clients in your head. You know any dog named Precious is far from… precious.

But what if you start expanding your salon? What if you bring on a new bather? Or maybe you have an assistant handling your appointments? Or maybe you have an inexperienced groomer joining your team.?

Wouldn’t it be helpful to know the personality rating of the dogs scheduled for the day?

Read the rest of this entry »


The Jennifer Hecker Story

Bouvier HugrIt was May, 1996. Star pupil Jennifer Hecker was three days away from graduating from grooming school and I was still very much a hands-on Director of The Paragon School of Pet Grooming.

I remember walking into the lobby during check-in. The front staff was just greeting a new client with a very large Bouvier des Flandres. I looked at the dog and immediately sensed something was off. The dog came in willingly enough, but its body language and eyes were telling me to be very, very careful with this dog.

Once the owner was gone, I told the front staff to attach the dog to a wall tether. I sensed we could have a real problem if we tried to place that dog in a kennel. Being out on the practical skills floor where we could closely observe this dog without the housing restriction was much safer. I suggested that the instructors place a muzzle on the dog before they attempted to do any grooming, just in case.

Because we didn’t see that many Bouvier’s at the Paragon Training Center, it was assigned to Jennifer, one of our most advanced students. At that time, Jennifer had shown Giant Schnauzers and had advanced one of them through the highest levels of French Ring Sport. She was not intimidated by the size or the potential attitude of this dog.

Not 15 minutes into the class, someone raced into my office and told me I’d better get out to the practical skills floor – fast. Someone had been hurt. Seconds later, I was on the practical skills floor. The first thing I noticed was how empty and quiet the room was.

The second was the blood trail.

It led diagonally across the space towards the bathing room. There was a crowd of people around a small prep sink. One person in particular was obviously in great distress – Jennifer.

Our general manager was holding her hand under cold water and asking her series of questions. One of the questions still haunts me today…

“Can you feel your fingers?”

I got a glimpse of Jennifer’s hand. Place a quarter on the meatiest part of the heel of your hand. Now imagine that area… gone.

handrThe Bouvier had done exactly what I had feared. The instructor and Jennifer had done what I had requested. They had muzzled the dog before team-lifting it onto the table. That’s when it struck. Unbelievably, it bit Jennifer through a muzzle. It was a nylon muzzle that was open at the end of the mouth so the dog could breathe freely. This type of muzzle can be effective as long as it fits snugly. In this case, they had selected a muzzle that was slightly too large. Even though the dog was muzzled, it could still open its mouth just enough to grab the heel of her hand to chew through her flesh…

…and it did.

We raced Jennifer to the medical treatment center. The local med-station felt that they could handle this wound despite the fact that she had lost sensation in her little finger – or maybe the pain was so great – she couldn’t be sure. They stitched her up, bandaged her, pumped her up with antibiotics, and sent her home.

The following day she was she was back at the doctor, but this time to see a hand specialist. They ripped out all the stitches from the night before and started over. Jennifer was looking at a long recovery period.

Jennifer had such a great attitude towards this whole thing – it was hard to believe. Even though she missed the last three days of class, she still graduated with very high grades. However, finding a grooming job was certainly out of the question for her – at least for a while. We ended up hiring Jennifer for our front office at Paragon while she healed.

As Jennifer’s medical bills mounted, we collected everything and turned them into our insurance company.  However, our carrier did not feel the situation warranted a payout on their behalf.

What??

That’s when we learned that in the state of Michigan a pet owner is ultimately responsible for their dog – even if they are not with it. The insurance company went after the pet owner. They were able to collect from their homeowner’s policy. That was news to me and served as a lesson to all of us.

As the story unfolded, we got more information that was unnerving. My initial gut reaction was well-founded. This was the third reported bite case for this dog – and the third owner. Of course the owner never bothered to share that information with us upon check-in. The dog was destroyed after this third incident with Jennifer.

We learned 5 lessons through this unfortunate event.

  1. Trust your gut. Never do a dog that you feel is dangerous to you, your team, or itself.
  2. Use muzzles when necessary and make sure they fit properly (we changed to full basket-style muzzles).
  3. The pet owner is ultimately responsible for their pet regardless of whether they are with them or not.
  4. In the state of Michigan, if the dog creates an insurance situation, the pet owner’s homeowner’s policy will be responsible for paying any damages or claims.
  5. Love and passion for dogs can still shine through despite severe injuries inflicted by them and long recovery periods.

Jennifer has been grooming with us for over 18 years. I’m fortunate that she is still on my team. She has become one of our most talented and productive pet stylists. She grooms every day at our luxury kennel, Whiskers Resort & Pet Spa. Plus, Jennifer has been one of our talented Training Partners on Learn2GroomDogs.com since the beginning.

We just filmed her for Learn2GroomDogs.com. We had been looking for someone to do a traditional style grooming lesson on a Bouvier des Flandres for a very long time. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect Jennifer Hecker to step up to the grooming table for this lesson! I’m so glad she did. Her love and compassion for all dogs is clearly evident – even for the Bouvier des Flandres.

 

Happy trimming,

Melissa

 

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How to Make a Dog Look Like a Puppy Again

Women have known this for years – a great haircut can take years off their age. Did you know it works for dogs too?

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Grooming by L2GD Training Partner, Suesan Watson

This styling technique works for almost any drop coated breed with ears that lay close to the cheeks such as: Shih Tzus, Lhasas, and Malteses. Typically, you use the ear style on dogs that get full body haircuts. This technique works or any purebred or mixed breed whose coat has a tendency to be straight. The common denominator for this trimming application is that the coat grows directly towards the ground as it grows. The size of the dog does not matter.

Heck, now that I think about it – it will work on many, many breed types. The most common coat types we see this ear style on are the drop coated breeds – but that they are not the only candidates. Any breed of dog that has fully feathered ears that drop close to the sides of their jowls will work. Straight coats. Wavy coats. Curly coats. It does not matter. It’s even super cute on some pricked eared dogs, too!

Grooming by L2GD Training Partner, Suesan Watson

Grooming by L2GD Training Partner, Suesan Watson

The best part? The effect is instant. The years melt away. The pet walks into the salon looking its age and walks out appearing so much younger. It looks like a pup again!

What’s the secret? Short ears. Layered short ears.

As a bonus, this ear style has other benefits too:

  • It’s easy for the owner to care for
  • The ears will not drag through the food or water dish
  • They will not become matted or tangled

Here’s how you get the look.

  1. Attach a long guard comb over your clipper blade. Choose the length that will best suits the size of dog you are working on. Smaller dogs will be look puppyish with shorter guard combs. Large Doodle dogs will look better with a longer guard comb.
  2. Hold the ear leather flat across your hand to brace the ear. Gently guide the clipper over the outside of the ear. Imagine the ear leather like a leaf. A leaf has veins running through it. Run your clipper in the same direction as the veins in the leaf.
  3. Keep working over the top of the ear leather until the coat is consistently the same length. It does not have to be perfect – just close.
  4. With scissors or blenders, edge the ear for a neat appearance. Hold your fingers against the ear leather to ensure you do not cut the skin.
  5. Double check for evenness on the outside of the ear by gently back-combing the fur. If there are uneven spots, blend them in with thinning shears for a very natural look.

If you want to give a pet a youthful look – try this ear style. You can instantly make a dog look like a puppy again.

Happy Trimming!

Melissa

P.S. If you’d like to catch a free demonstration of this ear style, click here.  Suesan Watson is an award winning pet stylist and a Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Partner. This is an excerpt from her video lesson called: Using Style to Bring Out the Charm in a Lhasa/Poo.

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