Groomer to Groomer

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Hector

By Bonnie Wonders-Trent


Suddenly the door burst open, and she was standing behind this huge ‘thing’ that was about four feet tall. ‘Merry Christmas!’ she said with all the excitement of a five year old. ‘Don’t you LOVE it?’ she asked, her face all aglow like some meteorite.

Although it will be way past the holidays of 2012 by the time this goes to print, I’d like to share with you my Thanksgiving weekend.

First, let me say that I am one of those groomers who never takes a vacation. Yes, yes, I hear some of you gasping. I also feel some of you in the same situation nodding in agreement. Don’t get me wrong... I have taken a Friday off here and there but never an actual week-long vacation. When I don’t go to work on one of those rare (and I do mean rare) instances, it is usually because of some true emergency. Believe me, I pay dearly for taking that time.

I have what seems like a million calls from customers leaving those big “sighing” messages about how they really needed an appointment and how I “must be on vacation somewhere.” I also get those wise crackers who say, “It must be nice to have banker’s hours” and “You must be making an awful lot of money grooming dogs if you can afford to be closed on a real work day.”

I had one customer call for an appointment two days before Thanksgiving wanting an appointment for that day. When I told her that I couldn’t possibly do it, she asked how I could make a decent living when I’m “never” in. I could feel my cork about to explode when she said that.

“I mean, you only work two days a week, don’t you?” she asked.

“Uh, no... I’m here four days, and they are 12-hour days, so I get 48 hours in my week,” I informed her in a hot tone.

“Oh, sorry,” she said quickly. “You know I have the utmost respect for you and what you do. I was just teasing,” she said, trying to get out of the corner that she had backed herself into.

“Of course,” I replied, not buying it one iota.

It was finally time for a “vacation.” For Thanksgiving, I had decided that I was going to take off starting Wednesday of that week, and hubby and I would go to my daughter’s in Tennessee for the holiday. When the day actually arrived for us to head out of PA for the trek down South, I swear I felt like we were in an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. Dave had packed the backseat of the truck with enough supplies to last us through a tornado, a 12-hour traffic jam, 17 hours of being lost, a horrific volcanic eruption, an avalanche, or a combination of the aforementioned.

He really is quite the packer. The problem is that when you open a suitcase or box after he’s had his hands on it, the lid practically propels itself into the next county. At any rate, I let him handle it. It makes him think he’s king of the program. Then he’s all puffy chested like some big old rooster or something. Whatever...

We left around 1:00 in the afternoon. This was going to be a fun, relaxing holiday! I didn’t have to cook, answer phones, or go to work! We were on the road for almost seven minutes when my cell phone rang. It was the daughter.

“Where are you? Did you leave yet? When do you think you’ll get here? Are you bringing the stuff down that I asked you for?” she asked with the rapid fire of an assault weapon.

“We just left. Don’t look for us for 10 hours or so in case we want to stop somewhere. Yes, we have your stuff.” I told her.

“Why do you need to stop somewhere?” she asked whining. “Don’t you want to see us?” she added.

“Now, if I didn’t want to see you, we’d be staying home, wouldn’t we?” I told her gently. “I’ll talk to you later,” I said.

We hung up, and Dave looked over at me, smiling. “She’s anxious, huh?” he asked with raised eyebrows.

“You could say that,” I told him, laughing.

It took us over nine hours to get to Knoxville. I had 14 phone calls from the daughter during that time. So much for getting away from having to answer phones. I was so busy answering her calls that we never did get to stop for anything other than fuel and a bathroom break. (It would have been 17 calls if I had answered the three that I ignored.)

When we finally got there, we were happy to see everyone and talked into the wee hours. When we finally decided to go to bed, Jess was soon knocking on our bedroom door. “Mom... MOM!” she was saying excitedly.

“What?” I asked as my husband and I lay in bed.

“I have to show you something! It’s one of your Christmas gifts,” she said, sounding like she was going to explode.

“It’s not Christmas yet.”

“But you have to see this NOW!” she said, stomping her feet out in the hall.

“But you should wait...” My sentence was cut short as Dave sat up in bed and turned on the light.

“For Pete’s sake, let the girl show you what it is, or we’ll never get any sleep,” he said, grinning.

“Okay. What is it?” I asked her.

“Is it safe to open the door?”

“YES!” I said, pounding on my husband.

Suddenly the door burst open, and she was standing behind this huge “thing” that was about four feet tall. “Merry Christmas!” she said with all the excitement of a five year old. “Don’t you LOVE it?” she asked, her face all aglow like some meteorite.

I felt my scalp shift and my ears go up. “What the heck is that?” Dave asked. Even though the thing was so huge, I still had to reach for my glasses for a better look.

“Isn’t it great? So do you like it? Say SOMETHING!” Jess said excitedly. At that moment, I really didn’t know what to say. I still didn’t know what it was.

I glanced at my husband only to see him with his head turned slightly to one side as he looked suspiciously at the “thing.” His eyes were squinted, and his nose was kinda wrinkled. “Would somebody just tell me what it is?” he said, breaking the silence.

“It’s a DOG!” Jess said, pushing it closer to the bed. I swear Dave and I both backed further away from it at the same time. I could see it much more clearly as she angled it toward us – not that you could miss it for all of its... hugeness... and color. LOTS of color. The thing was every color imaginable, some of which I’ve only ever seen coming out of a kid after an overload of sweet potatoes and cotton candy.

It was comprised of all sorts of metal. Tin, aluminum, bolts, nuts... You name it. It was a scrap man’s Mecca.

Suddenly I cracked up. I mean, I really lost it. I laughed so hard that I started that backwards laugh thing that occasionally happens when you start to “snart-snork.” This in turn makes my husband always say, “Here she goes again...” Tears were streaming down my face as I tried to stop laughing.

“Now that’s EXACTLY the reaction I was hoping for!” Jess said, completely satisfied with herself. “I just wanted to get you something you’d never get for yourself and would make you laugh.”

“Well, you really did it,” I said, gasping. “I’ll call him Hector.”

She smiled from ear to ear. “Goodnight,” my daughter said. “I love you,” she added.

“Yes, it really shows,” Dave threw in as Jess went out, closing the door behind her.

“So what do you think of that?” I asked Dave as he turned out the light.

“It’s a kind of scary thing to have watching you when you’re asleep, don’t you think?” he asked. “It looks like it should be in one of those ‘Chuckie’ movies or something. I’ll be too afraid to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night with that thing staring at me,” he added.

“You’ll be okay,” I told him as I patted him on the back.

Our holiday getaway went by so fast, and “Hector” was always in somebody’s way the entire time. He was constantly being moved from room to room.

At one point, my daughter admitted that no one thought he was the “ideal” Christmas gift. “All my friends kept saying, ‘You’re not really going to give that to your mom, are you?’” she told me. “I just wanted you to laugh. Where are you going to put him?” she asked.

“I think he would be really great in the shop as a sort of mascot.”

“That’s a perfect place for him,” Jess said, nodding in approval.

The morning that we were getting ready to leave, Dave was having one heck of a time trying to figure out how to secure our new “beast” into the bed of the truck. When he ties something down to be hauled, it could only escape if it were Houdini reincarnated. He covered Hector up and strapped him down, and we were headed back home.

Before we got back to our house, we stopped at the shop to put the dog in his new home. Dave put him in a corner directly in front of the entry door. I patted Hector on the head and turned to leave. “He really is...”

“I know,” my husband cut in.

“I know.”

When I returned to work on Tuesday, my first customer was an older guy who always looks grumpy and sour. In actuality, he is extremely nice and has a good sense of humor.

In came “Bob” with his old black Poodle. I was standing behind the counter and watched him as he came through the door. He looked straight ahead to the corner and saw my new gift. He still had his hand on the doorknob as he stopped dead in his tracks and jerked his head back exactly like a chicken does when it’s ready to peck.

“What the heck is that?” he asked, his eyes opening abnormally huge.

“It’s one of my Christmas gifts,” I told him laughing.

“Geesh, it must be from somebody who doesn’t like you much,” he said, raising his eyebrows as he handed me his dog.

“Actually, it’s from my daughter,” I told him, laughing.

“Wow. What’d you ever do to her to make her that mad at you? That’s just plain ugly,” he said, shaking his head as he went out the door.

That dog has truly been a wonderful gift. Aside from being the conversation piece that he is, he has terrified children, adults, and other dogs. He has necessitated yet another sign in the salon, however. This one simply says, “If your dog pees on me, you’ve bought me.” Believe me... of anything that people will let their dog lift its leg on, “Hector” isn’t one of them. Poor Hector... ✂