It is so exciting to take on that new little puppy into our clientele.
We start out developing a good relationship with the puppy, ensuring that it has a positive grooming experience. I will never forget the look on the owner’s face once they see their little scruffy puppy transformed with their first haircut! It’s one of the most rewarding moments in the life of a pet groomer. Over the course of the first few grooming appointments, we give the pet owner updates on how the grooming sessions are going. We start working on table training and finding the right haircut that fits the owner’s lifestyle. We educate the clients on how important it is to get their new puppy on a good grooming schedule. We invest a lot of time and effort into molding the puppy and the client into the “perfect client”.
We watch their cute little puppy grow up. We start fine tuning the haircut to bring out the expression of the breed or capturing that cute expression of the mixed breeds with trendy head styles. Haircuts seem to evolve over time as the puppy’s structure develops and the coat texture changes.
Over the years this puppy has now become a dog….a dog that now has developed a trust and rapport with us, their groomer. We have also developed a relationship with the pet owner. We watch their children grow up, graduating from elementary school, high school… then off to college. So many of my clients have told me that they can’t even say my name or their dog will get so excited thinking it is grooming day! That’s when you know you have done something right!
Unfortunately, dogs are with us for a short time in life. Just when these dogs become loyal, lovable, well behaved pets… they turn into seniors right before our eyes. People don’t realize how hard it is for groomers. We love these dogs as if they were our own. Many have been in our lives for up to 15 years or so.
When dogs approach their senior years they can get grumpy… much like people! They don’t seem to tolerate things like they used to. They start to lose their hearing and their eyesight. The trust they had for their groomer is still there, they just become confused and scared. They are afraid when they can’t see the edge of that grooming table and they are afraid when they can’t see you scissoring around their eyes. Many seniors have dental disease and are too old to have professional teeth cleaning done. Their mouth is sensitive and they are uncomfortable when you hold their chin or muzzle to groom their head. During this time it is important for us, as groomers, to have patience and understanding. That cute little puppy that we spent so much time developing our trust needs us the most right now.
Long time clients are such a reward
So many of my clients have told me that they can’t even say my name or their dog will get so excited thinking it is grooming day! That’s when you know you have done something right!
Often times when drying the older pets they tend to have a “senior moment” where they will just start to howl. At this point the dryer needs to be turned off and the dog held close until they calm down and regroup. This behavior is very common with senior pets and it is important for us to pay attention to the changes in behavior as our once cute little puppy ages into a senior pet. Scheduling the seniors on a slower day when they can have our full attention and patience is important. Allowing them to sit or lie down when needed is “okay”. Changing the routine of the grooming process to accommodate their needs is also okay. Just like when they were puppies, the haircut does not have to be perfect. What is important is the experience they had with us.
I take that one last selfie with them and send them home. It’s always a sad day when we get that dreaded phone call. Our beloved client went over the rainbow bridge. The next phone call is the excited client saying they got a new puppy….the circle of life.