By Daryl Conner
During this time of holiday gifting, I suggest you take some time to consider some grooming tools that you could (and should) either ask for as gifts or put your holiday tip money towards. Why? For several reasons:
You work hard and deserve to have the best tools for your work.
Having appropriate grooming tools will help you work more safely, effectively and quickly.
Trying new tools is fun, and helps inspire your creativity. Creativity is good!
So in this spirit, let me tell you about some things I think every groomer should have, and why. In no particular order, here goes!
Thick, soft, absorbent bands that slide over pets’ heads, covering up their heads to help begin to dry after-bath moisture and protect their delicate ears from the sound of high velocity dryers. They keep pets calm and happy while being dried. A two-pack of Happy Hoodies is around $15.00.
This little widget attaches to your groom arm, and your groom loop clips on to it. Should a dog decide to do a swan dive and become airborne, this little snap is easily manipulated with two fingers. Reach up, pull down, and the pet is quickly set free. In my humble opinion, every grooming table should have one of these on the arm. Under $10.00.
I’ve been grooming dogs and cats for 30 years. I first discovered chunkers about 4 years ago. Wide-toothed relatives of thinning shears, these magical tools marry the blending ability of thinning shears with the “cut off lots of hair with every snip” capability of regular scissors. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder how the heck I groomed without them. I use them on almost every dog. They are great for shaping cute faces, tidying up underlines, blending in feathers and more. You can find them starting at $150.
Air Filtration Masks and Hearing Protection
Every breath we groomers take during our work day is laden with hair fragments and dander. Things that our lungs do not need. And those wonderful high velocity dryers we adore? They do irreparable damage to our hearing every time we use them. In an ideal world we would all wear filtration masks and some sort of hearing protection while we use dryers. Under $15.00 each. You can’t put a price on your health!
I have to admit, I was skeptical when I first saw this tool. A little widget that attaches to your grooming arm, the Groomers Helper gives you what every stylist desperately needs, an extra hand. Used properly, it keeps pets safely on the table, prevents them from dancing and spinning, (which saves a lot of time and frustration) and prevents bites. The groom loops that they come with are the nicest I have ever used, too. The starter kit (which is what I use and love) is under $125.
I was an early adopter of the original Clipper Vac© system and I would not choose to stay in my beloved profession if I couldn’t use it. Vacuum systems are an investment, but one that quickly will pay for itself. Using a vacuum system allows groomers to work more quickly and in a way that is impossible without one. There is no need to back brush and clip coats multiple times, because the gentle suction of the vacuum lifts hair up into the blade and creates a clean, uniform clip every time. Using snap on combs and a vacuum system, I can, for example, put a Shih Tzu in a cute, neat trim in about 20 minutes. This means I can groom 1-2 more pets per day. When you do the math, you can see that this is an investment that earns its keep. Frosting on the cake? Vacuum systems remove much of the dander and hair fragments that we are exposed to from our environment, keeping us healthier as we do our work. Prices start at $699.
What is so great about bathing systems? They save time, get pets super clean using less shampoo, and save on water so they are kind to our planet. They also prevent wear and tear on our hard working bodies, as they use the magic of water pressure and shampoo to remove dirt without a lot of labor-intensive scrubbing. I have worked without a bathing system, but I hope I never have to again. Prices start at $499.
High Velocity Dryers
When I began grooming 30 years ago, these wonderful tools did not exist. High velocity dryers work by pushing water off the hair shafts, rather than evaporating it with heat. On double coated dogs, the under coat literally flies away… brushing time is drastically reduced. The action of the air also straightens hair, reducing the need for brushing as we dry pets. This tool saves time and gives excellent results. Starting at $220.
There are products that can make hair smoother, less tangled, crisper, whiter, softer, fluffier, brighter, darker, shinier, vermin free and sweet smelling. Shampoos, conditioners, sprays, mousses, you name it… they make it. And they really work. If you have not tried new products lately, you owe it to yourself to check some out. There are so many wonderful options to make our hard work easier. Prices vary and many companies offer sample packs if you call and ask. Try something new, it’s fun and you may find that you get fabulous end results.
Human hair stylists don’t think twice before investing in the equipment that allows them to work efficiently, effectively and in a professional manner. But groomers hesitate, and I don’t understand why. Every groomer should have an electric or hydraulic table that will lower down so that medium and large dogs can easily step up on to the surface. This is easier on the pet and safer for the groomer. Dogs can effortlessly be moved up and down as the groom progresses, reducing wear and tear on your back, arms and shoulders. Buy the best quality you can afford and it will last you many years. Prices start around $350.
Small, cool, quiet, lightweight and cordless; the types of trimmers that have adjustable blades (offering lengths that approximate between a 9 and 40 blade with the flick of a switch) make so much sense! I use a trimmer to clean up sanitary areas, paw pads and eye corners on just about every dog. Poodle feet are a breeze to clip when you use a trimmer. And now many brands come with snap on combs, making it possible to use them on all-over body clips on many small, light coated dogs. Trimmers are also terrific on cats. The downside is that the blades don’t stay sharp as long as we’d hope, and trimmers themselves don’t tend to hold up for much more than a year of hard use. These problems aside, I think trimmers are a “must have” tool. $125 and up.
Having the tools that help us do our work as well as we can just makes good sense. During this holiday season I wish you love, laughter, rich blessings and all the best tools to help you do your work to the best of your ability! “