Groomer to Groomer

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Pearl

By Bonnie Wonders-Trent


I have been grooming dogs for 30 years now. Those of you who have been in business for any length of time know you acquire some “special” customers. One of the first people who came into my shop with an old Poodle was a very unique woman. I’ll just call her “Pearl.”

She is a very well-to-do woman with a heart of gold. I don’t think there is anyone whom she doesn’t remember on any given holiday. We all get cards and gifts from her for anything and everything. She had taken an almost immediate liking to me from the beginning of our relationship and, to this day, is probably my most steadfast and loyal supporter. Thank God she does like me. If she doesn’t care for someone, she lets them know. There is no gray area with her. You always know where you stand.

She kind of made me into her “chauffeur” over the years, and we’ve had some doozy times when she’s wanted me to take her shopping and such. We’ve gone from her taking her own placemats into restaurants when we’d go for lunch to her stripping down to her undies when she thought she was in the dressing room of a store. Unbeknownst to her, she was just outside the entrance to the dressing room area when she did that one. I even took her to her 50th class reunion many years ago. At least I was a hit with all the men, seeing as I was the only woman there who was 40 years younger than anyone else. Well, you get the gist of it all.

Since Pearl quit driving last year at the age of 91, one of my weekly duties began to be picking her up on Wednesdays and dropping her off at her hairdresser on my way in to work. This is really no problem at all. After all these years, I still get such a kick out of her and often tell her what a spoiled brat she can be.

Last summer she informed me that when my husband, Dave, had picked her up a couple times, he at least backed into her driveway so that she wouldn’t have to walk all the way around the vehicle to get in. Lesson learned, I immediately started backing in. Every fourth Wednesday, I also pick her dog up with her to groom him. My hubby then comes into town to pick both of them up and return them home. It has never been a problem until this past week. Holy moly...

I stopped to pick up Pearl and her dog this past Wednesday. As usual, it was snowing here, and I backed into her driveway as closely as I could get to her house. I went into her house and promptly chased the dog around the big living room, which opens up into the dining room, which opens up into the formal living room.

It’s always the same scene. Pearl puts the leash on the dog before I get there, as you can’t catch the little bugger when he knows he’s going somewhere. When I come in, he picks up the end of the lead in his mouth, and we do our circular promenade around all the rooms until I can get close enough to step on the end of the leash.

I catch the dog and pick up three gift bags filled with goodies, which Pearl has prepared: one for me, one for my hubby, and one for the hairdresser. I grab her purse on the way out the door, and we are good to go. Once outside, I now put my left arm under Pearl’s arm to help her down the two steps off her porch.

Bear in mind I’ve got those three bags, a purse, and a 20-something-pound dog all in my right arm. I always have to carry the dog, since the house is very close to an extremely busy road. His collar is never on tightly enough, and sure as heck, if he doesn’t want to go in the direction you want him to, he can slip it over his head when he puts on the brakes and backs up. I’d have to throw myself under a truck and be certain that I was run over if I let anything happen to that dog.

I safely get Pearl off the porch and open the passenger door of my Santa Fe for her. She grabs onto the top of the door to steady herself, and I hold it firmly for her. She’s only a little over five feet high and is getting a little wobbly, so it’s a bit of a reach for her to lift her leg up. As if in slow motion, she gets her left leg into the car, and I see her right foot start to slide on the snow-covered pavement. I grabbed at the back of her coat as I dropped the dog, packages, and purse. She was going down, and I couldn’t stop it. My biggest fear was her cracking her head on the driveway or breaking a now 92-year-old bone that I’m sure wouldn’t take too well to healing anymore.

“Oh no!” was all I remember her saying as she kind of actually gracefully slid to the ground with me, still hanging onto the back and arm of her coat. “Where’s the dog?” she asked as she lay in the driveway with her one leg under the car.

“Are you alright?” I asked, feeling like I was going to puke.

“Where’s the dog?” she asked again, panicked. I looked to my right, and there he was, sitting as calmly as could be in the snow. At least he didn’t try to run, and I was able to scoop him up and stick him in my car.

“He’s fine. He can sit in the car for now,” I told her. “Are you sure you aren’t hurt?” I asked again.

“No, I’m fine, but I can’t get up,” she said.

Now here I am, 5’ 7” or so, and let’s just say for the sake of argument between 100 and 200 pounds. I knew I could surely help this woman get to her feet. “Let me get you out from under the car,” I told her.

I reached under her arms and pulled her backward to clear her leg from under the car. I then tried to help her to her feet and... nothing. Her legs stuck out like two rag doll legs. I tried again. Still nothing. She had on these bootie things that look more like slippers on the bottoms with absolutely no traction whatsoever. I heaved... I hoed... I got nowhere.

“I can’t get up,” Pearl said helplessly.

“I don’t know how to help you,” I told her. I just felt so stupid. Here I am, able to lift Labs and Golden Retrievers, and I can’t budge this little five-foot-tall woman.

“I’ll scoot on my rear,” Pearl said. With that, she started doing a combination of a roly poly, weeble wobble sort of thing heading for the garage. She was soaking wet at this point and losing her pants in the process.

“Let me get a blanket,” I said, trying not to show all the panic that I was feeling at that point.

“I don’t want a blanket. I’m too hot as it is,” she said. “I’m so sorry,” she kept saying. She was breathing so heavily that I started thinking about her having a heart attack.

“Let me call the ambulance,” I said. “No! Don’t you dare call them!” she screeched.

“Okay, okay. Let me try getting you up again,” I said. Again I tried... and failed. I ran into the garage and looked for something — anything — to help get her up. I pulled a large cooler over to her. “Do you think you could put your arms on this and help pull yourself onto your knees or something?” I asked. She tried to no avail. Her feet kept sliding all over the place with those stupid shoes she had on. “Do you have any boots that are more like winter ones with traction on them?” I asked.

“In the hall closet,” she said. I ran into the house. I tore through the closets like a maniac only to find a pair that didn’t look much better than what she already had on. I ran outside with them, yanked her shoes off, and put these on. I then summoned up all the strength that I had and tried again to lift her.

By this time, she had managed to scoot herself into the garage. I gave her a mighty heave from behind, ended up losing my balance, and fell on my rear end right behind her. Thank God she couldn’t turn around to see me sitting behind her.

“Did you fall?” she asked in a high-pitched voice.

“No, no. I’m fine,” I lied. At that precise moment, I had a vision of an ambulance coming by to find two old women on the garage floor. I reached for my cell phone, which had flown out of my pocket and across the garage floor when I went down.

“Take this damned coat off me. I’m roasting,” Pearl said, panting heavily. It was only about 22 degrees, and I hated to take it from her. She was yanking at it, and I obediently helped her off with it.

“I’ve gotta try to call somebody,” I said. I ran into her house and grabbed a phone book. I called one of her neighbors that I knew, and Sandy answered the phone. “Is Cliff there?” I asked hurriedly.

“No, he’s with my brother,” she said.

“Pearl fell, and I can’t get her up,” I told her. Sandy said she’d call another neighbor until she could find somebody. I hung up with her, and Pearl was out in the garage yelling for me. I ran through the house back to the garage.

“What?” I asked, running to the front of her.

“Where’s the dog?” she asked.

“He’s still in the car,” I assured her.

“Is he okay?” she said worriedly. “Go check,” she added. I ran to the car, looked in, and yelled back to Pearl that he was fine.

“I’m going to try to call Dave,” I told her. I tried and couldn’t get him on his cell phone.

“Did you get him?” she asked as I came back out to the garage.

“No, he’s not answering.”

“Why not?” Pearl asked. I had no answer. By this time, I had managed to help her work her way over to the garage steps. The house phone started ringing, and I ran to answer it. It was Sandy calling to say that the guy on the other side of Pearl’s house was going to come over to help. This whole episode took about 35 minutes.

The guy finally arrived. Each of us got an arm under Pearl’s leg and under her arm and lifted her onto a chair. She was absolutely soaking wet, and I was sure she would have a healthy case of brush burn on her butt from all the scooting in the driveway. Thank God it was over, though, and she truly didn’t appear hurt.

I did tell her that if anybody would have come to her house at that precise moment, they would have thought that a stripper lived there. “You should see the trail of clothing that’s out in your yard,” I told her. “Your scarf is in the yard, your gloves are in the driveway, your boots are in the garage, your coat is in the breezeway, and you almost lost your pants. Women have made good money for taking off a whole lot less,” I said laughing.

Right about then, my husband appeared with a shocked look on his face. “What’s wrong?” he asked, out of breath. “I waited at the shop for you, and when you didn’t show up, I knew something had happened.” I told him what had happened and gave him more than his share of heck for not having his cell phone charged.

“Do you still want to go to the beauty shop?” Dave asked Pearl.

“No, thank you. My rear end is soaking wet, and I think I’ve had enough excitement for one morning. I’m staying put. Just bring back the dog when Bonnie is done with him,” she instructed.

Sure that Pearl was going to be okay, I went off to work. When Lou came in, I told her about my horrendous morning. “You know how when something horrible happens, like somebody is pinned under a car, and another person suddenly finds all this brute strength to help them?” I asked.

“Yeah?” she replied.

“Well, that wasn’t me,” I said sighing. “I just can’t believe that I couldn’t budge her at all,” I added.

I started grooming Pearl’s dog, and suddenly my right arm went totally weak. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was because I had really over-strained my bicep muscle when I was trying to help Pearl get to her feet. It got so bad as the day wore on that I was holding up my right arm with my left hand in order to run the clippers down the dogs. I muddled through my work, and when I had a break between dogs, I thought I’d better give Pearl a call to make sure that she was okay.

“Sure, I’m fine,” Pearl said when I asked how she was doing. “I’m worried about you, though,” she told me.

“Me? Why?” I asked.

“Well, you were trying so hard to get me up with all that pulling and lifting you were doing,” she explained. “I just felt bad for you, since I decided that I wasn’t going to try to help get myself up. I figured there was no sense in me trying to get up and maybe lose my balance again and break something and get hurt,” she said. “I thought if you could have carried me into the house, that would have been fine, but since you couldn’t do it, that was okay too,” she explained. “You do realize that I weigh 158 pounds, don’t you?” she threw in.

My jaw could have hit the counter at that point. Here I had been yanking my guts out trying to help her get up, and apparently she didn’t think to let me know that she wasn’t planning to participate in assisting me on her end. No wonder my arm felt like I was carrying around a dead porpoise all day. I hadn’t had a clue.

“I just hope that the dog wasn’t too upset with having to wait in the car so long till you got him into the shop,” Pearl said. “You know the poor thing did have to wait over a half an hour by himself in your car until you got back to him,” she added.

“Oh, he survived the ordeal just fine,” I said. “Did I ever mention, though, that you are just a ‘tad’ spoiled?” ✂