By Bonnie Wonders–Trent
If you’ve been grooming for more than a few years (or decades) you know how there are times when you forget a clients name or dog. Even though you keep records of your clients either via computer and/or paper, there are times when you still get befuddled. At least I’ll admit that I do. My brain can only handle so many Muffies, Fluffies, Buffies and Duffies. Not to mention that anything that has white hair has to have a name ending in “Y.”
I have come to the conclusion that it is apparently mandatory for any Yorkie in Western PA to be named Buddy. Evidently, all miniature poodles are named Missy if they are girls and the brown ones are of course dubbed Coco.
And could the Chihuahuas go by anything other than Killer. Male Springer Spaniels, Brittany Spaniels and “Doodle” mixes of any kind are all christened Max. With so many dogs having the same name and being of the same breed, it’s no wonder that I have so many senior moments. I feel as though I should be sitting in a corner somewhere doing that thing where you flip your finger over your lips and make that “blub, blub” sound or whatever you call it. So therein lays the start of a part of my confusion. The other part is solely the blame of my clients, especially in this case.
Paul and Margie have a Shihtzu named Casey. He’s probably 15 pounds or so and black and white. Like many of the older folks in this area, they don’t like to get the dog’s hair cut too much in the colder months. In the Spring they start having him cut into a #2 puppy cut and keep him that way till Fall. Now, in our neck of the woods, Shihtzu are an extremely popular breed. Actually the last time I looked at how many of them I do on a fairly regular basis, it was something like 172. Heck, one of my very good customers has 21 of them! Yup… not show dogs, just pets. And yes, all in the house. Just sayin’…
ANYHOW, Casey’s a really good little guy but I do know that he doesn’t ride well in a car. He’s one of those dogs that if riding loose, climbs from the front to the back seat and drools all over the place, often barfing in the car. Apparently putting him in a plastic carrier does the trick and he’s good to go then.
Margie called to make an appointment and when I set one up for her, it was at the same time as a commitment that she had already made for herself somewhere. “Paul will have to bring him in,” she told me. “It’s time to cut him down now since it’s finally getting warm,” she told me. “Do you want him the same as I did last year?” I asked her. “Sure do,” she said. “Cut under his eyes real good and get those bangs under control,” she added. “No problem,” I assured her.
On the day of Casey’s appointment, Paul arrived about 20 minutes early for it, as always. He brought Casey in, securely locked in his carrier. “How are ya?” I asked Paul as he set the carrier down near the hallway to the grooming room. “Well, either I’m getting too old or Casey’s getting too fat,” he answered with a grin. “All this huffing and puffing I’m doing, I feel like the big bad wolf,” he added as he winked at me.
“I know I’m a little early, but when I went to get Casey’s cage off the porch he was already in it. I guess he was anxious to get here, so I just picked him up and away we went!” he said. “At least I didn’t have to chase him around the house to get him in it,” he laughed. “I usually have a devil of a time getting him into this thing,” he said as he pointed at the cage. “Where do you want him?” he asked.
“Just let him where he is,” I told Paul. “I have to finish another dog and then I’ll start on him,” I added.
“The wife has a list of errands for me so can I have a couple hours?” he asked. “Sure, you take your time,” I replied. “You be good for her,” Paul said as he tapped the backside of the dog’s cage.
With that, Paul went out the door and I went back to finishing the Maltese that was waiting patiently.
Soon I was ready for the Shihtzu and went into the hall for his cage. Rather than carry the cage into the grooming room, I just reached down and opened the door. Out came Casey, happy as a clam. His hair was probably at least six inches long and he really did have a long topknot. I knew Margie wasn’t really fond of having him with a topknot tied up, but apparently since it had grown so much she had pulled it up out of his eyes. I put him onto the grooming table and decided to do a quick rough cut to get rid of some of that hair before I did his bath. Since I usually do the top of his head with a #1 comb, I whacked a good chunk of that topknot off with my shears first.
Roughing him in finished, I proceeded to bathe and dry him. He was rather hyper for the drying though and I didn’t recall him ever giving me such a hard time with that. As you know, many times as dogs get older they start to resent things that never bothered them before. Oh well, it wasn’t that bad, really, and I was soon done with the drying.
I fashioned a really nice puppy cut on him. His hair seemed to be getting thicker as he was aging, I noticed. It really held the cut well. I sprayed him with cologne and placed him back into his cage. Paul was right about one thing. Casey had definitely porked up over winter!
Nearly two hours had passed and Paul hadn’t returned yet to pick up the dog. Right about then, the phone rang. It was Margie. “Bonnie?” she said. “Yes, Hi Margie,” I replied. “Casey’s all ready, but Paul isn’t back yet,” I told her before she could say anything else. “He said that he had to run some errands for you,” I added.
“Well, that’s not the problem,” Margie said. “You can’t have Casey there, because he’s here,” she told me flat out. “What’s going on?” she asked in total bewilderment. “No, Paul brought him in about 20 minutes early, and I groomed him. He’s waiting in his cage right here,” I told her with certainty. “Why do you think he’s with you?” I asked feeling slightly sick in my stomach. I was afraid that something was drastically wrong with Margie now. “I don’t think he’s here, I know he’s here. In fact he’s sitting here in the kitchen looking right at me.”
Whoa… now I was getting that dizzy kind of surreal feeling I sometimes get when I realize I’m in trouble… big trouble.
“Hold on a second,” I told Margie. I went into the hall and picked up Casey’s cage. I opened the door and pulled the dog out. Casey looked at me wagging his tail, happy as could be. I reached back and picked up the phone again. “OK. I have him right here on the table. His hair is cut and he is fine,” I told her. “Well, that’s all well and good, but I tell you my dog is sitting right here,” she said vehemently.
“But I have your cage here with his name written on it. It’s your cage,” I told her. “I don’t know what’s going on! You might have my cage, but you definitely don’t have my dog!” she said rather loudly. “OK, now this is freaking me out,” I told her. “Likewise,” was Margie’s only response at that point.
“Well, I don’t have a clue as to what’s going on. I’ll have Paul call you as soon as he gets in here,” was all I knew to say. “Yes, please do,” Margie said. I hung up the phone and stood there kind of blankly looking at the dog on the table. As far as I remembered, the dog certainly looked like Casey. Longer hair than I was used to seeing on him and, OK, maybe a little bigger. Holy cow, I had no idea which of us was in the most trouble, but I had a feeling it was going to be Paul. I thought really hard and gave out other dogs as I waited impatiently for Paul to get back. I did recall him saying that he had picked Casey’s cage up on the porch with him already in it. What could the odds possibly be that Casey had a twin somewhere who had crawled into the empty cage on their porch? So slim, I thought that there had to be another explanation. It just was way too coincidental.
Finally, after several more calls from Margie and almost three hours in passing, Paul showed up. I practically scared him to death when I yanked the front door open before he had a chance to get his hand on the doorknob. “Something’s really wrong!” I exclaimed as I turned to get Casey’s cage from the hallway. “Did something happen to the dog?” Paul asked with eyes open wide. “Not really… yes… no… I don’t know!” I stammered as I pulled the dog from the cage. “Is this Casey?” I asked as I practically shoved the Shihtzu into the man’s face. Paul took a step back. “What? Heck yes, it’s him. Why would you ask somethin’ like that?” he asked looking totally shocked. “What’s wrong boy?” Paul asked the dog as he reached out to take him from me. “Whoa… wait… Casey’s got a white leg. This dog doesn’t,” Paul said taken aback. “You got him mixed up with another dog,” he said.
“That was a good one though, you almost had me fooled,” Paul remarked shaking his head as he let out a laugh. “Oh, it’s not me that had you fooled. You need to call Margie right away. She said Casey’s at home with her. I have no idea whos dog this is, but it’s the one that you brought here in that cage. Now Paul’s eyes were really open wide. “How in the heck could I have got the wrong dog?” he asked me. I handed him the phone and he called his wife. Their conversation was pretty much a repeat of the one that I had earlier with Margie. After Paul hung up he leaned on the counter shaking his head. “I don’t have any idea where this dog came from,” he said. “I got a bad feeling about this though,” he said. “Could it have been that one of your neighbor’s dogs crawled into the cage while it was on your porch and you just assumed that it was Casey?” I asked. Paul looked thoughtful for a minute and started shaking his head. “That’s so farfetched, but I guess it could have happened like that… it MUST have happened like that,” he responded thoughtfully. “What do I do now?” he asked me. Apparently, I must have looked like I had a good answer. “I guess you take this one home and see if somebody’s turned you in for dog napping,” I offered. “REAL funny,” he responded. “I’ll vouch for you if you wind up in the pokey,” I offered. With that, he picked up the carrier and its occupant and left for home. Poor Paul. He did look kind of scared.
The next morning when I arrived back to work, I had a message from Margie. Evidently, I am akin to the amazing Kreskin. After many phone calls made amongst their neighbors, Margie & Paul learned that Casey #2 actually belonged to someone in their development several streets away. As for me, being the amazing mystery sleuth that I am must have pretty much nailed it on the head. The imposter dog had gone off on a tour of the neighborhood and decided to nap in Casey’s comfy, fur lined cage. Without taking a good look, Paul had assumed that it was Casey and trucked him in for his haircut.
All ended up fine and Paul and Margie now have new friends in the neighborhood. Me, I’m thinking of a line of mug shots for dogs… just in case.