Grooming Horror Stories

Grooming Matters

By Daryl Conner

It’s that time of year when spooky stories abound. Why not grab a cup of brew and sit a spell while you read about some scary grooming tales?

The woman that trained me to groom would never let me work on Scottish Terriers—they were her breed, and my unskilled hands were not to touch them. One day while she was grooming her own pride and joy, she told me a story that still haunts me.

Two women were hand stripping a Scottie for the show ring. One woman was working on his head, the other his jacket. They were chatting away as they worked. The dog took offense to something and leapt forward, biting the woman working on his head. Her mouth happened to be open when the dog snapped, and somehow his upper canine teeth became lodged behind her lower teeth, and his lower canines jammed up under her jaw bone. The dog was stuck fast and could not release his grip. Groomer and dog had to be transported, together, to a veterinarian where the dog was tranquilized enough that they could free his teeth from the woman’s face. She then had to seek medical attention for the bite.

If you’ve ever looked in the mouth of a Scottish Terrier, you know that they may be a smallish dog, but they sport teeth big enough that a German Shepherd would be proud to claim them. I can’t quite imagine what it would have been like to have those teeth attached to my face while we waited to have help to get them released. I often wonder who would have been the most scared, the dog or the person.

That is one grooming horror story I have collected over the years. Here is another that still gives me the creeps. This one was told to me by a woman who was a well–respected grooming instructor at a school.

The woman said that when she was a brand new groomer in training, she was setting the line for a poodle’s topknot. She carefully combed the hair forward over the poodle’s eyes, and then, using long shears, made a definitive cut. A moment later she noticed a drop of blood on the table. Then another, and another. She looked at the dog, and one eye was pooled with blood. She looked down at the table and there lay the outer edge of the dog’s upper eye lid, complete with a row of lashes. I believe I may have set my scissors down for the last time if that happened to me. Kudos to her for continuing to create an illustrious career. (I believe she said the veterinarian was able to reattach the lid and all was well.)

Many years ago, I read the following story on some internet site and it still haunts me.

A groomer was scissoring a large breed dog which was standing on a grooming table. She was working on the dog’s side coat, the tips of her scissors pointing towards the ceiling. The dog (as dogs often do) accidentally had the hind foot closest to the groomer step off the table, and his body dipped down towards the table top quickly until he regained his balance and lifted back up. The groomer continued to work, until she noticed drops of blood coming from the dog’s underside and landing on the table. It turns out that when the dog stepped off the table, the upright shears pierced deeply into the dog’s body cavity, and the groomer never noticed because when the dog lifted back up, the scissors popped right back out. She worked for a veterinarian and the dog was treated and healed up just fine.

Having had dogs do this misstep hundreds of times during the course of my career, I could totally see how such a freaky thing could have happened. It gave me chills.

One of my own personal terrors went something like this: I was a mobile groomer, driving a converted RV and working on a very shy, little toy poodle which I had groomed for many years. She had missed an appointment and was tangled, and somehow, when I was clipping her belly my blade must have snagged a piece of skin. A little area over where her umbilical cord had been when she was born just opened right up, leaving a gash about an inch long. I was mortified. The owner wasn’t home, so I called the closest veterinarian’s office and they told me to come on over. Although I had a small crate in my rig, in my haste to get the dog to the doctor, I just let her ride loose. I was in the middle of an intersection when I heard a horrible sound. The rear door to my rig had come open somehow. I careened to a stop in the middle of the road, and turned to see the shy little dog, poised to leap out the open door. I knew if she got out she’d be hit by a car or lost in the surrounding woods.

I am not a graceful or nimble person, but I somehow launched myself through the air, grabbing the dog’s hind legs just as she was in mid–leap. I landed flat on my belly, knocking the wind out of my lungs, but the dog was safe. I latched the door, secured the poodle in the crate and drove, trembling hard, to the vet’s office. A few stitches later the dog was as good as new, but I have never quite fully recovered.

May your Halloween be spooky but safe, with no grooming horror stories of your own. ✂

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