Whole Dog Journal's Blog June 17, 2012

Going to the Dog Groomers

Posted at 12:02PM - Comments: (21)

After a lifetime of washing my dogs myself, always, I’ve become addicted to taking my dogs to a groomer for even simple baths.  Oh, I might still wash Otto on the back lawn in the middle of our 100-degree summers, but at any other time, I’ve decided it’s oh-so-worth it to have the groomer handle the whole mess.  Even little 10-pound Tito, with his short coat – off to the groomer with you.

Otto and Tito after their first professional baths -- gorgeous!

It started last fall sometime. Someone had been forced to surrender a litter of backyard-bred (in the worst way) Labradoodles to my local shelter, and the chocolate brown puppies were thin, wormy, flea-infested, and, at the tender age of about 10 weeks, shaggy and matted to the skin in spots. (Some of them also had foxtails in their ears.) They looked like a bunch of dirty mops, and they were lingering in the adoption kennels day after day. I asked the shelter director if we could possibly afford to take them to a groomer to be bathed and clipped and made to look like dogs. “Well,” she considered, “There is a groomer in town who sometimes will take one of our tough cases and groom them for free . . . .” Long story short, the groomer agreed to volunteer her shop’s services without charge, and I transported two of the matted pups across town in the morning, and picked up one of the gorgeous, fluffy pups in the afternoon to bring back to the shelter; one of the groomer’s employees adopted the other pup! The groomed puppy got adopted the next day, and we transported two more pups to the groomer the day after that. They were adopted quickly as well.

Out of gratitude, I decided to bring Otto and Tito to the groomer’s shop for baths, just to let her know that she gained at least one new client for life, and to let her know that I’d be telling everyone I know about how great the folks are at Bark Avenue Grooming at 2045 Park Avenue in Oroville, California. And when I picked up my dogs, who weren’t even that dirty, and saw how great they looked and smelled, I thought, that is the best money I’ve spent all week. Their nails were clipped, Otto’s beard was shaped a little bit, and their coats were so fluffy and clean, I kept finding myself running my hands through their hair.

Though I’m very capable of clipping my dogs’ nails, and I generally do a good job, I hate doing it.  Otto is actually quite relaxed about the whole thing (which is amazing, because he’s got so many other odd neuroses). But I’m the one who agonizes over every snip; the “quick” in a thick, black nail (the only kind Otto has!) is impossible to see. I’ve only nipped the quick once, making Otto startle and the toenail to bleed, and that was enough for me. My groomer throws the nail-trimming into the mix – and squeezes the dogs’ anal glands, too. Enough said.

And when, in frigid December, Otto found and rolled (and rolled and rolled) in a weeks-old dead salmon on the banks of the Feather River, where we walk pretty much daily, I did not freak out. We walked home, and I left him outside while I went indoors and called the groomer. “Charge me any amount, but can you take him now?” Then, I loaded him into the back of the truck; if we hadn’t had a truck, I would have walked him to the groomer. No way was he getting in my car with greasy dead salmon all over him. That bath was worth a fortune to me, and it cost me $40.

I’ve heard horror stories about dogs being treated badly by groomers, and I’m sure there are bad apples in the barrel. But I love my groomers – my back loves the groomers -- and thanks in part to the bags full of yummy treats that I bring along and the groomers feed to Otto and Tito throughout the process, the dogs love the groomers, too. I can’t imagine living without them anymore.

Comments (21)

I groom my own (3) dogs and find it rewarding and, at the same time, challenging, to say the least, especially the nails and ears. However, I have not heard good things of many local groomers and welcome recommendations in Miami, Florida, if you have been lucky to find people you trust implicitly. I worry that I may not be able to do certain jobs myself in the future and would sure like to have a good person to call. Thanks for all your great tips and stories.

Posted by: Giselle C | June 25, 2012 2:40 PM    Report this comment

I've always thought that it's good practice for my dogs to be handled by someone else other then me on occasion. Its extra practice in being comfortable with others touching them, which also helps in visits to the veterinarian. My dogs go to the groomer - Grand Groomers, in St Paul. They're wonderful with my dogs. Three critters leave their establishment very happy after each visit - me and my two dogs!

Posted by: MARTHA D | June 23, 2012 12:56 PM    Report this comment

My dog Molly absolutely loves her groomer. She's a bichon-poodle mix, so she needs regular haircuts and tends to get matted. My groomer also squeezes her anal glands and clips her nails. She looks beautiful when she's done. The first groomer I tried was not a good experience. The second and third time I took her there, Molly was so afraid she was actually trembling. With this groomer, Molly is very happy and excited about going there. She starts getting happy when I tell her we're going to Rhonda's house, and when we get there she can't wait to go in the house and see her friend. So if you had a bad groomer experience, try to find a different one. I take Molly every four weeks, and I consider it money very well spent.

Posted by: Ellen G | June 21, 2012 10:50 AM    Report this comment

I also love grooming my own dogs and my foster dogs at home. I find it a good temperament test for a new foster. But we do have 2 dogs that need professional help. One is an old ShihTzu that we took from the shelter and the other is an old Golden that I drove down to SC to take from another shelter. Henry the ShihTzu looks like a used Swiffer mop after just one day of running around the yard and France the Golden looks like a wooly mammoth and is the hairiest dog we have ever had. So I say Yay to gentle and loving groomers everywhere!

Posted by: Olivia | June 20, 2012 5:17 PM    Report this comment

We are new dog owners, but knowledgable about dogs thanks to 2 great resources. We were a little nervous about nail clipping and ear cleaning at first so our puppy's trainer, Jill Beitel in Charlotte, NC, suggested we try a groomer for our puppy. Jill really knows her stuff so we took her recommendation to call Pineville Pet Quarters in Pineville, NC. The staff is professional, knowledgable and very courteous, just like Jill is for training. We are so lucky, and so is our Labradoodle, to have Jill help us with positive reinforcement c&t training - she has been much more than trainer, she is valuable resource for us. So is the Pineville Pet Quarters staff. Our puppy loves going there, and comes home so clean and happy. They are very reasonably priced, too! We love Courteous Canine and Pineville Pet Quarters!

Posted by: Andrea G | June 19, 2012 7:21 PM    Report this comment

I have Siberian Huskies and the groomer is the best thing in the world. I used to spend what seemed like weeks in the yard brushing and bathing to get rid of all that undercoat in the summer. Now when they start to blow coat, I just make an appointment with my groomer and in less than a day, they are completely brushed out, clean down to the skin (really hard to do at home with Sibes), and happy dogs! They like to go get bathed at the groomers, too. I'm so glad someone suggested I call a groomer.

Posted by: Jeanne A | June 19, 2012 3:34 PM    Report this comment

A great way to show your groomers some love is to leave a positive review for them on Yelp or other review site. I would personally like to support groomers in my area (Bay Area, CA) who help rescued dogs.

Posted by: Unknown | June 19, 2012 2:32 PM    Report this comment

Until I found my miracle groomer, Donna, through the English Springer Spaniel group on Yahoo. I had nothing but terrible experiences with groomers. Toby likes baths and is very well behaved, so I was not pleased when three times in a row I had to take him to the veterinarian's office after grooming, due to injuries (stabbing with scissors, etc). Also, none of the groomers in my area seemed to know how to trim a Springer's coat correctly. Toby and I volunteer as a pet therapy team at a local hospital, and I wanted him to look like the beautiful Springer he is. They also wanted to keep him for most of the day, in a cage. Now Toby gets groomed at home, on my patio, by this wonderful, patient, lady, and he looks absolutely beautiful.

Posted by: TobyMom | June 19, 2012 2:22 PM    Report this comment

...oh, I wanted to add that perhaps I would follow the lead of one of your posters and have the mobile groomers come to the house. That way I can watch over the process ;-)

Posted by: Robyn W | June 19, 2012 2:04 PM    Report this comment

My dogs' grooming experience has not been that favorable. I can easily wash them in our large walk in shower and trim up my boy, Odie, but LuLu is a little skittish around the scissors and I would hate to nick her! They are both long haired mini Dachshunds. I love their long coats but realized LuLu was looking scruffy when her fluffy undercoat showed through on her haunches and shoulders. I decided to call the local groomer and have both dogs groomed so LuLu would not be there without her buddy! I gave strict instructions to the groomer that I was wanting LuLu's undercoat clipped and to neaten both dog's feathers and flag tail, and that I liked their bloomers to be just above their heels but definitely leave their top coat alone!! They have beautiful 'capes' down to the middle of their backs. The grooming includes bath and blow dry, feet trimmed, ears and 'privates' along with nail trim and anal glad expression! We dropped them at 8am and was told to come back by 11am. I called to see if they were ready after 11am and was told it would be more like 2pm!!! When we arrived, the dogs were running free amongst all the fallen clippings and when they handed LuLu to me it was quite obvious that they had not touched her problem spots. So they took her back and we waited another half an hour! I looked at Odie's new do and was not happy...they had literally hacked his coat. His cape was gone with blunt, uneven bits very obvious, they had not bothered to trim his flag tail nor britches or ears and his feet were so shaved that he is now gnawing at one paw where there is a nick. I had to get the scissors out when we got home and was horrified to find a flea on both dogs. Both dogs scooted all the rest of the evening. Never again!

Posted by: Robyn W | June 19, 2012 2:02 PM    Report this comment

I respect groomers immensely. Since adopting my first 3 year old Bouvier, every one of my dogs has been groomed every 4-6 weeks by a professional groomer, whether in a shop or now, by mobile groomers (I have used 3). I think they are on the forefront of education too. They have "seen it all" when it comes to parasites, neglected coats, dental problems, ear infections, you name it. Numerous times my groomer found lumps, bumps, swellings, abnormal pigmentations and other problems I was not even aware of, and I have my hands on my dogs every day. Early vet care saved more than one of them, and more than compensated for the cost of grooming! I now see it as a must-do part of their health care, and the regular socialization with an expert who is up to date in the field of dog communication and touch doesn't hurt either! Thanks to Verna Crawford of "Who's Your Groomer" and Marisa Nodine of Mobile Dog and Cat Grooming and their assistants in Redlands, California!

Posted by: Sharon S | June 19, 2012 1:24 PM    Report this comment

My dog groomer Karen Schirro not only takes care of my 2 rescues but also does grooming for rescue groups. She easily gains the dogs confidence and uses aromatherapy to help those who have been traumatized. Karen is in Fircrest, WA. Thanks so much for all she does!

Posted by: Bif F | June 19, 2012 12:52 PM    Report this comment

I love and adore my groomer, Pampered Pets on 43rd and SE Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon, owned by Diane Carlson. And she loves and respects my pets. I have three rescued Lhasas and have been going to her for 11 years - since I got my first one. She has treated them with love and care as they have gone through their ailments, their quirks, and a neurosis or two! And now, as my oldest is living with congestive heart failure and can't stay at the groomers like he used to, she has worked with me to take him first thing in the morning so he can be groomed and cared for quickly. I am so appreciative! They come home with big smiles on their faces smelling and looking fabulous! It's as much a treat each month for me as it is for them! Thanks, Diane.

Posted by: Michelle B | June 19, 2012 12:18 PM    Report this comment

When I got my first puppy, 5 years ago, the first groomer I took him to is STILL my groomer today. She impressed me that first time - when I picked Max up, after doing his "happy momma dance" and getting his harness on, he went back to Ms. Joyce and said "goodbye". At that point, I didn't care if she was good at clipping or not, my puppy had a new friend! Both my dogs love to go to Ms. Joyce at K-9 Groomery in Ponca City, OK. She creates an atmosphere of calm in her shop, and cut my skiddish girl's hair on a Saturday when they could be alone the first time. I recommend her to everyone I meet!

Posted by: Marcella W | June 19, 2012 10:20 AM    Report this comment

Very timely post! After 10 years of grooming and clipping a long haired breed myself, I've lately been rethinking it for our new adoptee. She's a maltipoo and I've been working with her on handling, brushing, teeth brushing and toenails. We've made a lot of progress on the brushing, clipping and teeth ... but she's got big thick black nails and hates having her feet handled. I've been thinking maybe we should treat ourselves to a groomer.

Posted by: Carolyn M | June 19, 2012 10:09 AM    Report this comment

I'm in San Francisco, Ca and my groomer and her staff are worth they're weight in tons of gold!They do a fantastic job, know dog behavior, keep the shops (2) spotless, AND groom ANY animal (not just dogs) that are at San Francisco Animal Care & Control shelter. Kudos to both her locations-- Bernie's Groooming and City Dogs!

Posted by: Carol A | June 19, 2012 9:57 AM    Report this comment

Love, love, love my groomers. I take my three dogs to "We Suds Em" in Eugene, OR. They are fast, professional, and my Pom, Yorkie, and mutt come out looking beautiful every time. They use great products (my Pom has horrible skin allergies), and best of all they don't use cages. The dogs are tethered to the wall so they can all stay together. Yep, it costs, but anything is better than washing and drying a thick Pom coat!

Posted by: Ann C | June 19, 2012 9:53 AM    Report this comment

As mentioned by Spencer R, the groomer at green DogGoods (Emily) uses holistic products. A big plus in my book: one client at a time, from start to finish. That means no cages, no unhappy neighbors. The environment is welcoming and loving. Dogs go in happy and come out happier. green DogGoods is the best (Fort Wayne, IN).

Posted by: Zoe Z | June 19, 2012 9:46 AM    Report this comment

My regular groomer had been yanking me around for several months, not being there for appointments, etc, so as a last resort I took him to a new groomer who was actually recommended to me. This groomer, whom I love, uses all natural products which is great as my Westie has allergies. Last time she gave him a 'blueberry facial' to whiten his face, which on walks is always to the ground. He smells so great, and his fur is so soft and fluffy. I have been a loyal customer ever since. They offer coupons for dog massages too.

Posted by: SPENCER R | June 19, 2012 9:35 AM    Report this comment

We are a home based small breed rescue in Missouri (puppy mill capitol of the nation) so have taken in many pm dogs. I'll wash them at home but when they are ready to go online, I run them over to our wonderful groomer, Kristen and she makes them all look wonderful. Makes a huge difference in 'hits' on our site.

Posted by: rescuekim | June 19, 2012 9:35 AM    Report this comment

I sought a cat's groomer when my long haired baby needed a flea bath and belly shaving and THAT process introduced me to Deborah, the mobile groomer who now comes to my home to groom my two dogs. It's SO much easier than loading them up for the drive and standing by for the phone call that says they're ready for pick-up. Granted, that wasn't terribly difficult, but THEY clearly prefer staying home and not hanging out in a cage amongst a clutch of complaining neighbors. Deborah has my guys on standing monthly appointments and makes a point to greet the cat who started the whole relationship by getting fleas !

Posted by: Unknown | June 18, 2012 10:57 AM    Report this comment

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