Friday, July 6, 2012

Day in the Life of a Dog Groomer

So today I thought I would write about an average day in the life of a dog groomer. If I have particularly interesting days in the future, and this seems to catch people's attention, I might do this again. Let me know if it interests you or not.

Usually I start at 8, but today my first dog came in at 9.

8:45 - I come in fifteen minutes early to make sure everything is ready. I share a station with another groomer and I was off yesterday, so I need to make sure she put all her stuff away and all my stuff is readily accessible. This means plugging in my clippers and putting on my smock.

8:50 - I check the computer to see what my schedule looks like for the day, how many of the dogs are repeat clients, and what the notes on those dogs are. Today's schedule: 9:00 - Labradoodle; 11:00 - Maltese; 12:30 - lunch; 1:00 - Yorkie; 2:30 - Portuguese Water Dog. All four dogs are repeat clients and have notes in the computer, but the Labradoodle and Portie haven't been in for 4 months and the Yorkie hasn't been in for almost a year. I really hope that dog has been somewhere else in the meantime and worry about how matted he will be if he hasn't.

8:55 - All ready to go, I await my first dog. The notes in the computer say the Labradoodle usually gets 3/4" left all over.

9:00 - The customer comes in right on time, happy to see me as always. This is one of my regulars, albeit one that comes infrequently. I ask, "So, the usual?" and the customer replies, "Yep. No wait, it's time for her to get her summer cut. Ok bye!" She leaves as I wonder whether I saw any summer cut notes in the computer.

9:05 - I get lucky and the 80-pound dog jumps into the tub willingly. It turns out there were no summer cut notes, so as I wash her, I mentally debate what length to leave her.

9:20 - Move her from the tub to the drying table, towel her off, spray her with The Stuff, and turn the velocity dryer on her. Get blasted in the face with water and black hair as it flies off the dog.

9:50 - Move the dry dog from the drying table to my grooming table. Be grateful again that she jumps willingly anywhere I want. Cut her toenails, which she is also good for, then start the haircut. I have decided on a length that is just shorter than half an inch. I hope that length is short enough but not too short. This is the constant problem of dog groomers - we flinch when you say "short but not too short."

10:35 - I finish her haircut, clean out her ears, and put bows in her ears. I choose green bows to match her collar and leash.

10:40 - Call her owner, double check the notes on my next dog, use the restroom, and sit for a few precious minutes.

10:55 - My next dog is early. I sigh and heave myself out of my chair and go meet the customer. This Maltese usually gets just under an inch left all over, but last time got a longer haircut - after some additional brushout to deal with mats. This time, she is matted again, but of course the owner doesn't want her shaved. I tell her I'll see what I can do; I think I can get the mats brushed out, but no guarantees.

11:00 - Use my thinning shears to start cutting mats out of the dog. I hate dematting dogs; it hurts them. Since this customer refuses to get a short haircut on her dog and is incapable of maintaining this long length, I figure cutting mats out is a fair compromise. The mats are small enough that you can't even tell where I've taken them out. Yup; I'm that good.

11:10 - Now that I got all the mats out, I can finally wash her. She immediately scrunches into a tiny ball in the farthest corner of the tub. I spend the next 5 minutes hunched awkwardly over the tub prying her limbs away from her body in order to scrub her.

11:15 - The same drying routine is applied for every dog the same as it was for the Labradoodle, except the Maltese alternates between scrunching into a ball and clawing the crap out of my arms trying to escape.

11:30 - More brushing, then the haircut. I decide to go back to the length that is slightly less than an inch. Hopefully a shorter haircut now will result in less matting next time she comes in.

12:30 - Finally done. I'm tired and my back hurts. No bows on this one. Time for lunch. I happily sit and eat, enjoying the chance to get off my feet.

12:50 - The Yorkie is 10 minutes early. Oh well, I guess that means I'll have more time in between the Yorkie and the Portie. It does appear he may have been somewhere else since he was last here in August, but it has still easily been 6 months since he's seen clippers. By the way, this Yorkie was probably 10 pounds overweight. He looked like a little ugly sumo wrestler, with a teeny tiny head and an enormous body. I'm pretty sure he weighed more than Hailey, and she is twice as tall!

2:05 - Finish the relatively easy, although bizarre, haircut, glad he was really well-behaved for a Yorkie. Time for another break.

2:25 - The Portie is also early. I think last time I groomed him, he was matted and I had to shave him, but I forgot to put notes in the computer. In any case, this time they wanted a summer cut, which we haven't done on this dog yet since they started coming last fall. The owner gives me really vague instructions, "As short as you can go without shaving him." Oy. That means something different to everyone.

2:30 - Pick him up and put him in the tub because he refuses to jump. Spent the next hour and a half using my left arm to hold up his butt so I can do the entire groom. I left half an inch on his body. Other than being incredibly lazy, he was pretty well behaved.

All my customers, as far as I could tell, were happy with their grooms today. So now I am home writing this, and tomorrow I'll do it all over again. Although as I reread this, I can see I got a lot of breaks today. That isn't always the case, just so you know.

12 comments:

  1. *sigh* The joys of vague and confusing notes from parents. I think 70% of our job is decoding what the parents REALLY want.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least 70%, yeah. Thanks for commenting!!!

      Delete
  2. YOU GET LUNCH?!?!? LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, now that I work at a place where we do every dog straight through and you aren't juggling several dogs at once, most days I get lunch. Only exception is scheduling problems - like a "golden puppy" scheduled for an hour and a half that was almost a year old and packed full of undercoat! Yeah, I don't miss the no-lunch days

    ReplyDelete
  4. That was really helpful cause i want tobecome a dog groomer soon :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I could help, and good luck on your journey to becoming a groomer!

      Delete
  5. Did you get paid for working through lunch? Also, how hard is this job on your back? Do you have to do a lot of lifting of pets etc? I have been seriously thinking about going to school for this as I love animals and groom my two dogs myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry it has taken me so long to respond; for a variety of reasons, I stopped managing my blog about six months ago.

      Generally you get paid on commission, so depending on where you work, you don't get a paid lunch break at all. The place I work at now schedules a lunch, though it isn't a paid lunch, and sometimes I do wind up working through it.

      This job is extremely hard on my back! I've always had minor back problems for various reasons, and this job definitely exacerbates it. I have to get a monthly massage just to keep on my feet. The keys to keeping your back healthy are to stick with smaller dogs and use as much ergonomic equipment as you can. And yes, there is a fair amount of lifting. We have a great tub with a ramp, but a lot of the bigger dogs won't use it and need to be lifted onto the tables anyway if they won't jump up.

      I love grooming but it definitely isn't for everybody and can be very difficult. It's very hard on your body and easy to get injured. But if you love animals, have a great amount of patience, and don't mind having a physically demanding, exhausting, disgusting job, grooming could be the career for you!

      Thanks for your comment, and sorry again it took me so long to respond!

      Delete
  6. I'm curious as to how you got into the grooming business. Did you start with an apprenticeship or did you have to do grooming school? I'm asking as someone who is interested in starting a career as a dog groomer and any advice on starting out would be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry for the delay in my reply. I've hardly been on here at all in the last year or so.

      Ten years ago, I decided I wanted to be a zookeeper. There is extreme competition for those jobs, so I decided I had better find some sort of job working with animals while I worked toward a Biology degree. When I was looking through the classifieds, I saw that PetSmart was hiring "Professional Bathers." I jumped on that opportunity, discovered that dog groomers make more money than zoo keepers and there is much higher demand and I remembered that I hate science with a passion! So PetSmart trained me to be a groomer. I have since left PetSmart in favor of something less corporate, but I love grooming and wouldn't trade it for full-time poop-shoveling at a zoo for any money in the world.

      Delete
  7. How did you get your start dog grooming?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry for the delay in my reply; I haven't been on here much in the last year or so.

      Ten years ago, I decided I wanted to be a zookeeper. There is extreme competition for those jobs, so I decided I had better find some sort of job working with animals while I worked toward a Biology degree. When I was looking through the classifieds, I saw that PetSmart was hiring "Professional Bathers." I jumped on that opportunity, discovered that dog groomers make more money than zoo keepers and there is much higher demand and I remembered that I hate science with a passion! So PetSmart trained me to be a groomer. I have since left PetSmart in favor of something less corporate, but I love grooming and wouldn't trade it for full-time poop-shoveling at a zoo for any money in the world.

      Delete