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  The Trials of Sending your pet to get a haircut

  Katherine Govier, National Post
  Published: Saturday, July 21, 2007

Some dogs shed. This is undesirable because when you go out for dinner in your black chemise, there are long white dog hairs all over your back. Or, you grow allergic, and have red runny eyes and sneeze all the time. However, there is a remedy. The remedy is that you can get a non-shedding dog. They hang on to all their hair. It grows and thickens constantly. Therefore, every six weeks or, at the most, two months, they have to get a haircut.

There are no dog barbers. There are people called dog groomers. The dog groomer is the new person we love to hate.

There must be some well-balanced, fun-loving dog groomers somewhere. Wasn't there one in an Anne Tyler novel? Oh, she was a trainer. Your strict disciplinarian, heel-and-sit-on-command-type trainer is a pushover compared to groomers I have known.

"In my 25-plus years of owning Kerry Blue terriers --Alice, Rosie and now Jasper --I've known my share of dog groomers, including one gem who sent Rosie a card at Christmas and had dog parties. Several groomers put big red bows on the dog's collar after a session. And often they cut and washed the dog's hair so that she looked just right, not scalped but with a little longer hair on the lower leg, and around the snout, to give the dog the shape that flatters. I don't think it's too much to ask, and sometimes you can get it.

But only sometimes. More often you get a dressing down and your dog gets scalped.

What I seriously dislike about going to the dog groomer is the lecture. "His hair is a mess, you haven't been brushing it, it's matted, it's dirty, it's long."

"But he's a dog," I say, defensively. No one likes getting the bad-mother talk. "He gets three long walks a day and there's bracken and burrs and, yes, he gets dirty and tangled. He's in terrific shape, and he's a very happy dog."

The groomer can't be seen to be indifferent to a dog's happiness. She (or he, I guess, but I've never met a male one) will appear to cave at this point.

"I'll have a lot of trouble getting the knots out, it's going to be very difficult," she'll say, grudgingly getting to work.

I appreciate that it is work to brush, shampoo and cut a dog's hair. But she has taken up this line of work. She charges between $50 to $120 per dog, and her equipment is not nearly as expensive as that of a dentist. She has a room and a table and a couple of razors and this noose-like thing

The dog is shaved to look like a mosquito, and the lectures begin again. "You have to brush him every day." "You have to wash his bottom." "You have to stand him on a table when you brush him, so that he gets used to it." "You have to come here more often." Not very likely. What if we all abused our clients and complained that much about our work? What is it about dog groomers? Sometimes I talk dogs with Danny Finkleman, the former radio host, who is also my stockbroker. He has a Bouvier, and gets livid about the groomer who ends up "taking it all off" and charging him a hundred bucks for what he figures is a 15-minute dog shave.

In the park, we meet a guy with a cute little Ganaraska named Dexter. Dexter's modified Schnauzer cut has only been achieved after a confrontation with the groomer. The groomer would only give Dexter a puppy cut, another version of "taking it all off." The owner (whose name I did not catch) settled for that, went home, came back two months later, asked for a Schnauzer cut again. Nothing doing. Puppy cut was all he could get. So he moved on to another groomer.

"I figure it's my dog," he said. "I should be able to have what I want."

So I am wondering, why do people become dog groomers? Is it a personality disorder? Do they see God in the form of shiny terriers with bows on their collars? What do they think dogs do in their spare time, that is, when they are not having their hair cut?


Re: The Dog Groomer is the New Person We Love to Hate, Katherine Govier, July 21

National Post
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

After reading this column I was disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised. There are many so-called dog groomers who just think that shaving a dog is the way to go. Many of us, though, do not see it that way. I try to cut every dog according to their breed standard, unless specifically instructed otherwise by the owner. It took me close to two years to obtain my Canadian Grooming Certificate. My teacher is a retired gold medallist in grooming competitions.

For me, grooming any dog requires skill, patience and, above all, love. I feel sorry that good groomers have to bear the brunt for the bad ones.

Daniel Hadlington, Chi Chi's Grooming Place, Brampton, Ont.