A Tail of Two Cities - Groomer to Groomer

A Tail of Two Cities

By Erin McLaughlin and Jill Pipino

As dog groomers, every once in a while we run into a special situation that makes us go “Eww!” Whether it be the poopy bums, the bleeding and oozy growths, or the owners that cannot resist calling their dogs deliciously sexy. What to do? Take pictures? Yes! Call your groomer friends? Of course, they’ll understand! Here are some stories we shared with each other recently.

Clifton Park

Last week, I had a doozy. A 14-year-old, every-two-weeks, full-coated Briard came in. He has been battling and winning against old age for a couple of years now. He is on a boatload of pills several times a day, herbal supplements, and acupuncture. He lays down for his grooming and is in good shape. Any matting I do find we just shave out. His parents want him beautiful and comfortable. At this particular appointment, he was behaving a little odd. We chalked it up to weather, old man mood, or maybe a full moon. He got his bath and some warmed up conditioner and began to settle into his spa day.

He had lots of sticks and leaves in his hair. Even at his age, he is still an adventurous dog with lots of surprises in his long hair. After his bath, I laid him down on a towel and proceeded to stand dry and brush him when he suddenly launched himself off the towel and across the room. He has never done that. Shocked, I looked him over. I didn’t notice anything off or weird, and he was behaving normally, so I brought him back, laid him down, and picked up my brush when something caught my eye. It looked like a weird wire. I pulled it out of the brush and examined it a little closer… It was an acupuncture needle! It had been left in my poor old man since his last treatment and had been pulled out by the brush.

If you have never been to acupuncture, let me tell you why I wanted to pass out. The acupuncturist always tells you not to move with the needles in. I never questioned why, letting my imagination run wild with what could happen. This dog had the needle in for at least a few days, was running around, probably laid on it as it was somewhere near his hip. All I could think about was how uncomfortable he must have been. I didn’t see this needle through all his hair, and obviously neither did the acupuncturist. It gave me the heebie jeebies all day!

I called the owners and the vet and sent a picture of the needle to both. I never found an inflamed or irritated spot on his body. Every time they come in, he now goes on the table first with the blower on low in hopes that I find that literal needle in the haystack.


When Jill calls me with her gross stories, of course it brings up something in my mind that makes me cringe. This one’s going way back when my budding grooming career was truly put to the test. I had just finished expertly bathing a Vizsla (as you know, they require a lot of skill and expertise), placed her on the table, and began drying her. I started at her back end as I had been taught, since it gives the dogs time to become accustomed to the sensation before getting too near the head. Well, she was all wiggly, like the dryer was scratching an elusive itch, which made me smile.

I was loving my new job and thinking how great it was to be working with animals and making them feel so fresh and so clean, when suddenly it hit me. Now when I say, “It hit me,” I don’t mean the proverbial light-bulb-over-my-head eureka moment… I mean explosive evacuation of this girl’s large intestinal fermented waste products. All over me, the bank of crates with finished dogs awaiting pick up, the wall (which was three feet away), the table—you name it, it was covered. I stood in momentary shock. Time seemed to stand still as I looked at the scene that had just unfolded before me. Finally, feeling slightly embarrassed, I’m sure, the dog turned to look at me and then sat down as if to say, “I made this bed; now I’ll lay in it,” literally.

The rest of that day was a blur of cleaning, which at first included what seemed like just a lot of smearing before I saw any real progress. Somehow I made it through and amazingly showed up for work the next day. Here I am, 10 years later with innumerable things that make me go “eww!” since that day, but that is for another time. One can only take so much at one sitting. Here’s to hoping you never say “eww” at work, but if you do, a gross story shared with a friend does help ease the pain and gives you both a good laugh.

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