While We’re on the Topic

Yesterday, a friend told me that they saw an article that said that two of the fastest growing, economic resistant occupations are dog grooming and dog sitting.

I replied that I had another encounter yesterday morning that convinces me that animal behavior rehabilitation (and/or euthanasia) will likely follow this trend. Happily, I can also report a good ending to the day.

Hello Insensitive Groomer

After a romp on the beach, I took a friend’s dog and mine to a local, do-it-yourself dog wash. This wash had an experienced groomer in the back who was working on a small Labrador. Not so typically, she had grooming ribbons displayed on the wall behind her. I don’t have ribbons because I have never competed. Most groomers I know don’t have them either.

Since we were the only ones in the shop, I tried to initiate a bit of grooming chitchat as we worked. I wasn’t of much interest to her until I asked her about her awards. She explained that she owns a Kerry Blue terrier and she has competed with those.

As we worked, I noticed that the dog she was working on was was scared mindless. It was cowering, shaking, wimpering, and its eyes were bugging out of its head. She was shaving this small labrador (another topic for another day). There was no soothing talk for the dog. It was all business. After all, this is an ‘experienced’ groomer.

And then came the dog’s nails. How did I know she was working on the nails? Because the dog squealed and screamed. As a groomer, I know. It’s a hassle. Did the nails need to get done? I couldn’t tell. Some groomers are very thorough and will, as a matter of practice, not let anything go out the door without a nail trim, even if a dog doesn’t need one. Another customer entered the shop. Did she try to stop the screaming in front of a ‘regular’ type of customer who also brought in a lab?

No. She became more commanding. “Stop. Stop it right now!”

“She has awards!!,” I pantomimed to point out to the dog. “Relax and show the proper respect.”

The Lab telepathed back to me one of my favorite quotes, “Properly trained, man can become dogs best friend.”

Touché.

After the ordeal, I casually meandered into the territory…”You know? I’m starting to teach workshops on toenail training for dogs to be alright with having their nails trimmed.”

No answer.

“…for owners.”

No answer.

“I have another class I’m starting that teaches dogs how to be alright and steady while on the table.” (Echo…echo.)

Maybe I needed to put it in a way that shows her a benefit for groomers?

“Trying to do something to help make a groomer’s job easier, you know.”

And finally, the response which deserves the caveat that I don’t remember her exact words, but were pretty close to, “Good for you.”

And that was that. And that is pretty typical for the average groomer.

Most groomers (my younger self included) do not make the connection between what they do and the rest of the animal. They do not see their job as part of the whole for a dog. (To their credit, their owners may not either.) Nor do they really have time to care. They have a living to make and a dog that causes them trouble just makes making their income even harder. We/they like dogs that are easy to groom.

I could make an educated guess that the groomer would not remember the name of the dog today. It is impersonal. The dog’s reactions were an inconvenience…for her.

I would lay odds, however, that if I had her dog on my table and I slapped it in front of her, she would be more involved. But, I would explain, “She’s not cooperating with my dematting and she hates her ears to be cleaned!” “Knock it off!” [shove] “Hold still.” Hopefully she would attempt to stop me. Every dog deserves to have an advocate, don’t you think?

And now for the good part.

I received another call. I have been playing phone tag with this person for 2 days. The person hasn’t provided any information in her messages about why she’s calling. Finally, after getting home I reached her. She thanked me for my persistence in returning her calls.

“I have a dog that bites while being groomed. I was referred to you by (a local person who belongs to every positive dog association that I do and who I routinely see at dog events–she specializes in various wholistic treatments for dogs).”

Flashback: See my previous blog entry “Daring to be Unpopular.”

My thoughts: I’m not ready for this conversation yet.

She continued, “(She) said that I should contact you because you are gentle with dogs and that you might be the one to help my dog to overcome his issues.”

?? Really ??

“We have worked with clicker training. I don’t know if you still groom anymore, but if we could work together with my dog, I am willing to put in the effort.”

?? Really? Really Really? For REALS?!

Was this a staged call just to make me feel heartened?

“Are you alright knowing that we may not accomplish a haircut right away?”

“Absolutely.”

“Did my friends put you up to this?” (Just kidding.)

“Welcome to my salon!” and yes, ‘Good for me.’ And good for this little 10 lb. dog.

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