What Was I Thinking?

September 25th, 2013 by ificore


The first time I saw a rescue makeover grooming competition I became all choked up. There’s close to 50 dogs in the ring. Every single dog had been abandoned for one reason or another. They came in every shape and size. Their coat conditions varied greatly. Some dogs looked like they had been groomed recently, while others were an absolute disaster. However, by the end of the class every dog was clean, appealing and ready to be adopted. This was ‘real life’ pet grooming for every salon around the country.

Since I saw my first class a number of years ago – I’ve seen many more. I’ve even had the opportunity to judge the class myself. I absolutely love this class. This is the most rewarding grooming competition any show can host. And the best part; almost every single dog finds a new forever home well before they call ‘scissors down.’

Over the years, there’s been quite a bit of pressure for us old-time grooming champions to step back into the ring. Every one of us has adamantly said, “NO WAY!” All of our lives have changed since we were top stylists. We’ve lost our edge and we know it. High-caliber grooming takes lots of practice almost on a daily basis. We have continued our careers with knowledge we gained at the grooming table — but most of us don’t groom more. Or if we do, it’s very limited.

Personally, I haven’t spent a full day at a grooming table in over 15 years. I’ve become a serious desk jockey. Sure, I’ve never stepped far away from the grooming industry. Everything in my life is wrapped around grooming and running pet related businesses. Many of those businesses focus on education for the grooming industry. I just physically don’t do it anymore — but I live it and breathe it every single day.

The last time I put in a full day grooming was at The Paragon School of Pet Grooming. It was the ‘98 or ’99 holiday season. Most of our advanced students had graduated in the weeks prior to Christmas. It was all hands on deck to get through our client load — including me. It’d been years since I’d stepped up to the table in that capacity. I put into practice everything that I teach. I got through 16 dogs with relative ease — until I went to the restroom and discovered I had seriously stressed all my glutes. Sitting without the use of a handrail was impossible! Once I stopped, I realized how sore I really was — all over.

Recently my chiropractor described professional pet groomers as occupational athletes. No joke. We bend. We lift. We twist. We stretch. And we get into the most awkward positions imaginable to ensure our pets stay safe and we can perform a quality job. When I groomed every single day I was buff. I was fit. I could lift dogs that weighed more than I did! I still have an old pair of 28 x 32 501 red tag Levi’s that I wore until they were totally threadbare. I question how I ever fit into those!

Fast forward to the All-American Grooming Show in Chicago — 2013. Apparently there were a few seasoned stylists enjoying dinner after the show one evening. (I’m sure adult beverages were involved.) The idea was hatched. Host a Celebrity Rescue Rodeo grooming contest at a major show. The competition would be an ‘invite only’ class. Who would be eligible for an invitation? Only 10 retired top pet grooming competitors.

The class will be hosted as an evening festivity at Intergroom 2014. Details are still being worked out. There will be great prizes but more importantly — it will be a fund-raising effort for pet rescue. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on this worthwhile event.

My husband and I went to the All-American grooming show for only one day this year — Sunday. As soon as we walked through the doors, the team that had hatched the idea grabbed me. They gave me the brief rundown of what they were thinking. Then they asked, “Are you in??” Without missing a beat I exclaimed, “ABSOLUTELY!” And then I instantly thought — what am I thinking??

I immediately knew I needed a theme song… I’ve been a desk jockey for way, way too long. I have a host of physical issues that make it almost impossible for me to groom anymore. I know all my issues can be overcome if I was a bit more disciplined. I need to get healthier. Of course the only theme song that I could think of is from the movie Rocky …

Over the years I’ve learned diet and exercise can be magic for the body. When my hand seized up at the height of my career and I had no health insurance — I repaired it myself through diet. I drank a concoction of tea made out of herbs and barks prescribed to me by a South American medicine man. I was ‘eating clean’ before it even became a household term. I got my hands back in time to represent the United States in world team competition as a member of Groom Team USA. However, my day-to-day grooming days were over.

I don’t believe in taking a pill to fix something. I believe in getting at the root cause. Whenever possible, I look for natural alternatives to remedy a problem way before I elect taking a drug or surgery. And the amazing part — there are many natural alternatives to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I feel fortunate that I’ve always been intrigued by diet and exercise. Although I have to admit, I don’t practice a healthy lifestyle as much as I should. I love to cook so cooking healthy meals is not an issue. Portion control? That might be another story. And exercising? That’s going to take some discipline! I’m also a workaholic. I’ll need some serious discipline to uproot me from my computer!

I have a team I can turn to in order to help me keep my body functioning the way it should. I have the resources to practice my grooming skills. I certainly hope I have the support from a vast sea of extremely talented pet stylist from my companies and within the Training Partners of Learn2GroomDogs.com.

For me, it’s time to start practicing some serious discipline. It’s time to become a competitor again.

This time when I step into the ring, it’s not about winning. It’s about doing what I’m passionate about (and being able to stand at a grooming table for 3 hours to make it happen!). I love to make dogs look and feel amazing. To win their trust and cooperation. To keep them safe and comfortable throughout the grooming process. And in this case – to find a new forever home for one single dog while raising money to assist in the care of these pets.

What a brilliant way to get a group of retired, seasoned pet grooming competitors back into the ring! For the lucky few that got an invitation to Intergroom 2014 Celebrity Rescue Rodeo, none of us missed a beat when we said, “We’re in!”

If you want to track my progress you can catch me on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page. (No self-portrait mirror shots of my figure to track my progress – honest!!)

Happy Trimming!

– Melissa