Afraid? Who, Me?

By Bonnie Wonders

After 30 plus years of grooming you would think that I’ve pretty much seen it all as far as unwilling grooming customers. I’ve certainly had my share of dog owners who don’t want to give up their precious pet for an hour or two as they get groomed.  Honestly, you’d think they were sacrificing their first born when they have to leave them with me for a bath and haircut. I’m truly not all that bad. I’ve never (knock on wood… or my husband’s head, whichever is closer at the moment) had a dog die whilst in my care. Never had one have to go to the doggy ER after leaving my place. Never had to perform CPR on one. I on the other hand, have had to take myself to the hospital after being around some of THEM.

We’ve all seen those kinds of owners who transfer their own anxiety to their dogs when the time comes to hand ‘em over. I’ve had owners cry when I try to pry their pet from their arms while they are sobbing, “Mommy is Soooo sorry to have to leave you here… I’ll be back baby. I promise,” they say in between gasps. Geesh… I am so tempted to hand them a paper bag as I not so gently push them toward the front door. These dogs shiver and shake and put on some of the best acting this side of Broadway. The second, and I do mean the second those dogs hear the owner get out the front door, they stop their own theatrics and look up at me like “Thank goodness she’s gone… and she calls ME a drama queen!”

A couple customer’s dogs however, will come in the front door and as soon as their owner’s unhook their leash, they head straight back into the cage room and run into a bottom cage and pull the door shut behind them. They will do just about anything to avoid that room with the dreaded bath tub. Until they figure out how to actually lock the door behind them, I’ve got the upper hand.

I had one customer who had to have her daughter bring the dog in since the lady had to work. The girl actually drove the dog to my place, came in dogless and proceeded to tell me that she “asked” the dog if she wanted to get her haircut. The dog jumped from the passenger seat to the back seat, so the girl KNEW that she wasn’t in the mood for getting groomed. “My mom will have to bring her back when she’s ready,” she informed me. With that announcement, she left. Yup, just like that. Right back out the door and into her car and homeward bound, I assumed. Me… speechless. I actually kind of enjoyed calling the girl’s mother to tell her why the dog wouldn’t be groomed that day. Oh, to have been at their house when it was Mother Vs Daughter night… round one… I would bet on a knockout.

I had a customer once who brought in a Lhasa to be cut down into a puppy cut. She left, and as I had just started to bathe the dog, the husband appeared. He stormed back into the grooming room and demanded (nicely, I must admit) that I give him the dog back. “Uh, Linda just brought him in for a grooming,” I said. “Well, he’s NOT getting his hair cut,” he informed me matter-of-factly. “I told her I want him to have long hair. I don’t want any of it cut off,” he said. “Uh,” I said again (I’m good at saying that when I’m dumbfounded). “I don’t know what to do then…” I trailed off. “You just give him to me,” David said. “He’s all wet,” I had said. “That’s ok, just rinse him off and give him here,” he said. I did as I was told, wrapped the dog in a towel and handed him to Dave. “Are you sure you don’t want me to at least bathe and dry him?” I asked. “Oh yeah. I’m sure,” he said. Rolling my eyes, I watched as he carted his dog away.

Thirty minutes later Linda called to let me know that she and Dave had gotten into a MAJOR discussion over the haircut. The husband had apparently won the argument for the moment. However, it was under the stipulation that he would be solely responsible for brushing the dog’s hair every day. It only took about a month for him to see the light, aka “Linda’s Way.” Within four weeks I saw Sparky again. This time Dave brought him in and asked VERY nicely if I could please cut his hair way down as he couldn’t seem to find the time (or patience) needed to comb through all that dog hair every day. Go figure.

I’ve had dozens of people over the years who, of course, save a ton of money by learning to groom their own dogs. They make this announcement to us that they’re going to take over the job themselves. After all, they know how easy it is to groom a dog as they’ve watched us through the window. These same people are the ones who eventually come back begging us to groom their dogs again. This of course after they hack their dog’s hair up, making him look like he stuck his tail into a 110 outlet. They’ve also managed to misjudge their aim with the scissors while trying to remove a mat, thereby slicing into their dog’s flesh. Finally, they spend a good hour cleaning up all the blood that they didn’t know their dog’s foot could spew out when they cut way too deep into a toenail.  Who told them to buy a white couch in the first place?

These people who insist on not putting their dog on a leash when they bring them in eventually all learn the hard way. They pull into the parking lot and open their door. The dog jumps out and either does one of several things:

A: Dog makes a straight line down through parking lot and runs through the tool and die factory at the bottom of the lot… owner spends 1/2 hour running through huge building trying to locate said dog.

B: Dog makes a 90 degree turn and heads down the middle of the main road heading toward the Chamber of Commerce building… apparently he wants to know what local events are coming up.

C: Dog makes other 90 degree turn and heads toward turnpike one block away. Obviously doesn’t know hitch hiking is forbidden on the turnpike.

D. Dog sneaks into Bar directly across parking lot behind unaware patron on his way in to buy six pack. Owner didn’t have a clue that this happened. I observed watching through trusty front window of grooming shop. Big smile occurred on face of yours truly.

The most recent coward occurred just last month. Sue was bringing in her little Bichon for its monthly appointment. Normally the dog jumps onto Sue’s lap as soon as she stops her car at my place. The dog is always really good about coming in to the shop. That particular day however, Pebbles decided to make an escape to the underside of the back seat of Sue’s Toyota. I wondered what was taking her so long to come in, but figured Sue was probably on the phone as she usually is. After 10 minutes or so went by, she finally burst through the front door of the shop. “We’ve got a problem,” Sue said looking panicked. “What?” I asked. “Pebbles is stuck under my back seat. I mean REALLY stuck,” she said.

I followed her out to the parking lot and, sure enough, that little dog had crawled under the seat and had gotten her back leg hung up in some sort of rigid cable that was under there. The dog was twisted into an awkward position with her head bent to one side under part of the seat and she was too short to stand up all the way. Sue was trying to coax her to come out on her own, but the dog was scared and was literally stuck. Sue pulled on her to no avail. We worked on her for probably another 10 minutes and we were seriously thinking we might have to call the Fire Department or somebody to come and try to remove the back seat. Sue was beginning to look like she was going to hyperventilate. “Let me try to sort of “pop” her out from the back side,” I suggested. I think all three of us were feeling rather doubtful at that point, but I was able to get her leg unwrapped and push her out from the backside of the seat. Relief doesn’t begin to describe how we felt at that point.

Sue picked her dog up and handed her to me. “What an ordeal!” she said rolling her eyes. She left and I gave Pebbles her grooming. When I was almost finished, the next customer walked in with his dog. “Buddy doesn’t want to come in,” Paul informed me as I came out to greet him. “Did you ever have a dog try to hide from you like this?” he asked as Buddy was trying to become invisible behind Paul’s knees. “Oh, a few,” I said with a big sigh.

Comments

  1. Bethany says:

    your comment ‘I’ve got the upper hand’ in: “They will do just about anything to avoid that room with the dreaded bath tub. Until they figure out how to actually lock the door behind them, I’ve got the upper hand.”
    For some reason, this disturbs me. I don’t want my dog manhandled or forced into anything, especially if she is already scared, ya know?
    I would never take my baby to a place that cannot cajole them; that has to be forceful.

  2. Bethany says:

    Many dogs don’t enjoy visiting the groomer, and it’s easy to see why when viewed from your canine companion’s perspective:
    Strange smells, sounds, dogs, and humans
    Those cramped, uncomfortable little jail cells
    Being drenched with water and having off-limits body parts manhandled
    The evil drying process
    Those scary scissors, clippers, and the dreaded Dremel
    For dogs who don’t get out much, a ride in the car can also be anxiety producing, so the stress begins even before you arrive at the groomer. And imagine how Buddy or Bella feels when you waltz out the door and drive off without them. “Wait! What? You’re LEAVING me here?”
    but… you, ‘having the upper hand’, is supposed to calm whom?

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