Recently I’ve been attempting to focus my off time on fulfilling activities to refocus my mind. Especially with everything going on in this country, it’s easy for me to lose sight of clarity. Once I’ve done that my off time becomes lay-around-in-bed-watching-tv time. Good work, what I define as labor-intensive work with your hands, has a way of returning me to a natural calm.
Enter: my dog
I’ve had Sam for a little over 10 years. He followed me through life, largely by his own choice. I left him with my family, where he could enjoy a large fenced yard, but he would cry every time my visit ended. As a part of his fit he would jump into the driver’s seat of my car to prevent me from leaving.
When I finally brought him to live with me, I quickly realized I would not have the funds necessary to groom this massive fluffball. On top of having limited funds, I live in a particularly terrible area for grooming. I would get him back wet, depressed, and mopey like they’d promptly beat him upon my exit. Some of that is Sam’s natural flair for drama, but in the end it was not a good option for either of us.
I already had been working for a chain of pet stores, and decided I needed to make the next step. I began to study grooming, and insisted on a job change at work. I learned industry standard for bathing, cutting nails, cleaning ears, and drying dogs at work while studying extensive grooming catalogs at home. I bought a pair of Oster clippers, and after receiving some advice from a retired groomer and a demo session, I began carefully grooming Sam’s face and feet (he used to have clean feet).
Apparently the ability to shave a poodle’s feet made me a hot commodity in the local job pool. After some career changes I began to study full-body grooming. Sam was a large part of my training process. My mentor taught me strategies, and I would go home and practice on Sam. Our bond began to grow, and grooming became important for both of us. Grooming tested our naturally strong communication, in many positive ways.
To be a truly successful groomer, your animal communication has to be perfect. Every dog has an entirely different personality, especially while being poked and prodded all day.
The groomer has to determine when to be strong, when to be gentle, and when to assume the role of the parent. In Sam’s case, he has to be treated exactly like a human. Instead of doing the fatal flaw of just grabbing his foot hurriedly, you must inform him politely of your intentions. The fact that many people think dogs don’t care to be talked to is mind blowing to me. In all of my clients (dogs in this case), they loved being talked to. Many dog parents talk to their dogs all day, and the shock of being prodded all day without being treated with the same respect is usually a tipping point.
Sam and I grew together, and we grew to appreciate the difficulty on both of our parts. In a way, grooming has become us showing appreciation to one another. I don’t exactly want to have back cramps all day, and he doesn’t exactly enjoy standing stock still all day. Because we both do hard work for each other, it’s become a tradition that brings us together.