Friday, April 26, 2013

Creative Grooming Attempt 1

Oh my goodness, I am SO SO late in posting this! I've had the idea for a couple of months, and it's been two weeks since I actually did these grooms; I've just been working so much that I'm constantly exhausted. I'm talking 11-hour days :-P   Those long days should be done with soon, though we're still in the midst of busy season.

Anyway, I've decided to try my hand at some creative grooming. I've never really tried any before, and I figured I should probably try it on my own dogs first before trying it on customers' dogs.

I was inspired by this blog post to try using sidewalk chalk to do some temporary color on my dogs. I thought I would also try to create my own stencil and attempt to shave it onto Dillin and color it onto Hailey.

Here is Hailey before any sort of bath, haircut, or color. Doesn't she just look thrilled?

Here she is after. I actually did Dillin first, so I knew that trying to fill in that stencil with chalk color was never going to work. It was the end of a very long day and we were both tired, so I just colored her tail blue really quickly with the chalk.

Here's a better view. Her eyes are saying, "Can we PLEASE go home now?!"

I got the quick dog out of the way first here, even though I groomed her second. There is SO much more to say about Dillin because there is more that I did (and attempted) on him than on Hailey. Here he is before. His Mohawk was really out of control!

Here he is after the bath and haircut and with his Mohawk trimmed up nicely and dyed blue. Why did I go for blue on both Hailey and Dillin? Simply because I am a huge Denver Nuggets fan, and their colors are blue and yellow, and I suspected (correctly, as you'll see) that the yellow wouldn't look very good. Also they are in the playoffs right now and I wanted to show my team spirit.

Here's a side view. I REALLY like the way his Mohawk looks colored in - I think I'll need to make that part of his permanent look, and maybe change the color every time I groom him since chalk is so washable.

So then I attempted the stencil. I had printed out a logo of the Nuggets' that spelled out "Denver Nuggets" and cut out the letters carefully with a razor blade. It didn't seem overly intricate - until even my small toe blade was having problems fitting into the spaces. The snow-capped mountain peak turned out OK, but the rest was a wash, so I decided to free-hand a large DN into his side instead. Here's how that turned out. (Oh, and if you're keeping track, this is Plan B...)

Um, it kinda looks like I took a weed whacker to his side. That's not a good look. Can I cover it up with color?

Before I show you how that turned out, here is his other side. I had attempted to free-hand a DN on his side with the yellow chalk, but as you can see, it just looks like he rolled in mustard. Oops.

Anyway, Plan C was to color in the DN like a different logo - the bottoms of the letters are yellow, the tops are blue, and parts of the top right of the D and the top left of the N are a white snow-capped peak. I can manage that, right? Yeah, not so much. No matter how long you soak chalk, you still have to apply quite a bit of pressure to use it, which makes it difficult to work with in small patches. Here's Plan D.

And another view with him looking at the camera. I'm really looking forward to those shaved patches on his side growing in a smidge so I can take him back in and shave him down so he doesn't look like such a wreck. This is why I plan to experiment on my own dogs first!

As a side note, the color has worn off pretty quickly; the chalk on Dillin's sides had rubbed off within a day or two and his Mohawk and Hailey's tail have faded to a very pale pastel blue.

I definitely plan on trying more creative grooming, and I am going to a day-long seminar on it in June, which I am looking forward to. I will definitely plan on sharing all of my creative grooming experiments, both good and bad, with you all. Thanks for being so patient in between blog posts!

Friday, April 5, 2013



Those 3 letters will make a groomer cringe every time.

What in the world does it stand for?

Once A Year, as in a dog that only gets groomed once a year, usually in the Spring. Some dogs get groomed twice a year and are in just as bad of shape as the once a year dogs. Either way, you know you are in for a mess - lots of undercoat, lots of mats, and sometimes lots of attitude because these dogs aren't as used to grooming as those who are groomed more frequently.

I groomed this dog yesterday. I had done her one other time - in September! So she's a twice a year dog, but she had enough undercoat to represent an OAY, so she's the dog who gave me the idea for this blog post. 

Anyway, in her before picture, you can see that there is a ton of undercoat packed in there and falling out in clumps.

It took a lot of scrubbing to get her clean underneath all the undercoat she had and a LONG time (well over an hour) with the velocity dryer to get her dry and remove most of the undercoat. Here is how the bathing/drying room looked when I was done, before I even swept all of the hair into a nice pile.

And here's all that hair swept into a pile. For you non-groomers who read my blog, imagine all of that hair flying around in that small room (I was standing in the doorway to take the picture) with a hot dryer and you can picture how fun that is. I'm going to be fishing Golden hair out of my eyes for days.

Here is the final haircut - nice and short and blended and smooth.

Here she is with the pile of hair on the floor below her...

...and next to her on the table. Luckily she was really sweet and really well-behaved. Still, this entire process took almost 2 1/2 hours - and she was only scheduled for 2 hours. This is one way OAY dogs can really screw up groomers; they usually take much longer to do than dogs who get groomed more frequently.

I really wish I had taken before and after pictures of the Golden/Australian Shepherd mix I groomed a couple of days ago that really does only get groomed once a year. He had a ton of undercoat and a ton of mats, and the owner wanted a very short haircut. It was a dramatic difference - but sadly the owner was late dropping off and I knew the dog would take longer than scheduled, so I shaved a couple of minutes off of the grooming time by skipping the pictures.

Anyway, here is a Saint Bernard I did a couple of weeks ago. He is a twice a year dog - between the shedding undercoat and the fact that he has skin allergies and constantly chews on himself caused some matting on his butt/hips that needed to be dealt with. Here he is before the bath.

And close up.

Between his chewing and my dematting, he did have some holes in his rear, but I still think he turned out nice.

Next we have a Bearded Collie. It had "only" been 3 months since I groomed him, but the extent of matting I saw was representative of what you would expect in an OAY, so I chose to include him in this blog post. I groomed him a couple of weeks ago.

The owners had been doing an OK job of brushing out his body, but his legs and face had completely gotten out of control. Here is a close-up of the matting on one of his legs.

Here he is after the bath and blow dry, which took FOREVER because his hair is unnaturally thick for a Bearded Collie; it more closely resembles an Old English Sheepdog, and, being matted, it really took a long time to get it all dry.

He also had some nasty skin problem - it was orange and greasy. Yuck! I wish I had noticed it before the bath, though: I think medicated shampoo would have been more effective if I had shaved him before the bath.

Here he is after. As you can see, I had to shave his body pretty short to get under the mats; I also had to shave his ears - they were so badly matted that I couldn't tell what was skin and what was mat.

I also had to take his muzzle much shorter than I would have liked, but trying to demat that area would have hurt him, so I just used the longest blade I could to get under the mats. This is a pretty typical look for an OAY: shaved body and ears, short face, and let's-leave-some-hair-on-top-of-his-head.

I'm just at the very beginning of OAY season, so I may very well have sequels to this post in the future. Also, please note: I am not trying to judge people who do not get their dogs groomed frequently, I am simply presenting a groomer's POV on what it is like to groom these types of dogs.