Cherish Your Groomer, Treat Them Well

life-352565_960_720 Are you grooming for passion and love for the pets or are you grooming just for the money? A question I saw on Facebook groomer’s page. After reading the comments, each have their own opinions and I am saddened that some groomers passion got burned off after a few years in the industry.

All of us started with passion and love. But why does some of our passion died? We do love doing what we do. It is also one of the way we could help a neglected pet feel better and comfortable. I came across owners who came to me because their groomers resigned or retire earlier than expected. Some even question me why is it so difficult to find a good groomer now compared to years ago?

Being a groomer is not all about rainbows and unicorns. It is not about being in a puppy paradise where you play with them all day. Being a groomer requires patience when it comes to pets with behavioural problems or puppies. It requires us to be gentle with seniors or pets with special needs (patella, slip discs etc). Sometimes we need to be emotionally strong when we received sad news from owners, where we become the pillar of support they may need.

We stand most of the time for long hours. We do heavy lifting of pets in all shape and sizes. Occasionally, we had to struggle with aggressive or uncooperative pets in order to get the job done. The grooming room is like our daily gym, our job mostly consists of physical work.

We might meet unreasonable customer once in a blue moon. But we maintained our cool and give the best that we could for the sake of the pet. Our job are under appreciate, majority would take our compassion to their advantage. We don’t get the respect we deserve. Sadly in Singapore, many view groomers as school dropouts. Let me tell you, your groomers might be a diploma or a degree holder. We choose to be a groomer simply because we have the love and passion towards this job. We have the compassion towards animals, because we love them as much as you do. It is our choice to work longer hours compared to 9 to 5 office jobs.

Grooming is never an easy job and do cherish your groomer if you’ve found one that both you and your pet like. Show them the appreciation you have before their love and passion got burn off and are no longer in the industry.

Groomer’s Certificate

graduation-1449488_960_720 Groomer’s certificate are important. It not only show the level of skills they’ve obtained, it also show how much training they’ve gone through. Certificates showed that they’ve been through proper training in using the equipment correctly and handle pets the right way.

Most pet grooming salons will display their groomers’ certificate so be sure to look out for it. Certificates come in many different forms and organisations. There are locally recognized, international recognized and in-house certificate.

Local Organisation

  • Singapore Kennel Club (SKC)
  • Dog Groomer’s Association (DGA)

Overseas Organisation (Certificates you may come across in Singapore)

  • Taiwan Kennel Club (TKC)
  • Korea Kennel Club (KKC)
  • Japan Kennel Club (JKC)

The above mentioned organisations issues recognised certificate. Although there might be some groomers with only an in-house certificate, it does not mean they are not certified. They have been through the same training as the other groomers. If you and your pet are OK with the groomer, then it’ll be great!

Grooming certificates comes in different classes.

Class C holders are beginners. They went through training where they learn all the basics. They were taught the proper way to handle your pets and how to use the grooming equipment correctly.

Class B holders are intermediates. Groomers with a Class B certificate went through tough training on upgrading, strengthening and perfecting their scissoring skills.

Class A holders are groomers who not only improve their skills but ventured out of their comfort zone to learn a new breed standard or show clip.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which class or organisation certificate your groomer has, what matter most is the trust you have with the groomer when entrusting your pet’s to their care. Groomer’s certificate is there to ensure to the owners that they’ve been through proper training and are more than qualified to perform the task given.

The Last Groom

dolly-1139355_960_720 As much as I dislike it due to all the emotional heartache that I will experience after, I had to do it and already experienced it more than once. It was a mix emotion and one of the hardest goodbye ever. Be it a regular or I happened to groom the pet once or twice, saying our last goodbye made me tear up.

Experiences like this prepared me on how to handle it. So far the two experiences I had were sickly senior dogs who do not have much energy to even struggle with me. The only thing I could help them was making them feel fresh and good. During the grooming session, I had to make sure they’re comfortable too. I stroked their soft fur while I told them that they’ve been good and that I love them too.

I know there are some owners who would bring their dying pets for their last groom. Maybe to pamper them one last time or to make them look presentable during their final days. I don’t know the exact reasons but there are owners who do. As a groomer myself, I try my very best to make them comfortable, feel clean and look fresh. 

But of course I would do these again if given the chance. It’s the least I could do for both owners and pets. And the last chance to say goodbye to my furry clients.

Nail Trim – Steps by Steps

dog-1003883_960_720 Most owners had difficulties when it comes to trimming their pet’s nails themselves. Thus they always turn to their groomers for help. Majority of the pets are afraid to have their nails trimmed after a bad experience. That is why most groomers stress the importance of giving your pet a good grooming experience.

Reintroducing nail trimming to your pet takes time and patient. If you’re keen to reintroduce nail trimming to your pet, here’s our tip. But first, these are the equipment needed.

  • Nail Clipper
  • Styptic Powder
  • Filer/Nail Grinder
  • Your pet’s favorite treats (optional)

Before we start the nail trim, firstly, get your pet accustom to you touching and holding its paws without flinching. Positive training helps. Reward your pet with praises and treats when it allow you to hold and touch without struggling or flinching. This process may take days or weeks to achieve. So be patient during the process.

Steps to nail trim:

  1. Get both your pet and yourself into a comfortable position. Your pet should have gotten use to you touching its paws.
  2. Using the nail clipper, trim the nails on each paw one by one. If by accident you trim more than you should, use the styptic powder and apply pressure for about a minute on the bleeding nail.
  3. Using the nail filer/grinder, file the sharp edges of each nail till blunt. This is to prevent any scratch marks when they paw at you after the nail trim.
  4. Reward your pet with praises and treats once the nail trim session is done. This help to show them that nail trimming isn’t all that scary at all.

White nails are relatively easy to trim as the veins (quick) are visible. Unlike black nails where you’re unable to see where the veins are. Here’s how to notice the veins on a black nails. When trimming the black nails, if you look at the nail head-on and notice a small dark circle, it means you’ve reached the maximum length that you can trim. Anything further, you may clip the veins.

If you do not have styptic powder at home, your regular cornstarch from your kitchen works too. Add a little of water to your cornstarch till it becomes a paste. Place it on the bleeding nail and add pressure till the bleeding stops.

Walking on rough surface regularly helps to file your pets nails as well as keeping the length short. Thus your pet may or may not require nail trimming. If you’re unsure if your pet needs a nail trim, you may consult your regular groomer. Trimming nails often helps keep nails short. With short nails, the veins wouldn’t have excess room to grow. So trim your pet’s nails often by yourself or schedule an appointment with your groomer.

An untrimmed nails may lead to curling and cause your pet to walk with difficulties. Curled up nails may pierce into the flesh of your pet’s paws which may lead to further infection and unnecessary pain. With all these trauma, your pet may turn aggressive when its paws are being touched or when the nails are being clipped. To avoid these, regular grooming session is very much recommended.

My Experience: The Ticks Infestation

 Every groomer and pet owner worst nightmare: Tick Infestation. I had a very bad experience once and wouldn’t want to go through it again.

I have avoided bringing my two fur babies for a walk during rainy days, let alone walk on the grass as I know the chances of bringing home a tick is highly possible. However, I didn’t manage to dodge the “bullet” even when I was busy with work and my fur babies haven been out for months. That was the busy Chinese New Year period. I would say I am unlucky. It caused me many physical and mental torment. The stress and frustration to get rid of the pests will only go away when it’s all clear up which took me about 6 months.

I applied for a groomer position at a local pet store with grooming facility and services. Securing the job was like a dream come true, never ever have I thought that the nightmare will soon begun when I start work. Out of all the jobs that I have applied and worked, that was my worse choice ever. A friend recommendation might not always be an ideal choice, I learnt it the hard way.

Working with dogs that have ticks are unavoidable and it’s bearable too. But working in an environment where ticks are constantly crawling up walls or anywhere is gross. Despite my suggestions on how to clean up the tick infestation in the shop, the boss’s mother replied me saying it’s normal for a pet shop. No! It isn’t! One or two is OK. But the whole shop being infested isn’t normal. I have worked at a few pet shops previously and they don’t have tick infestation. How is that even normal for a pet shop to be infested with ticks?

Sadly, I brought home baby ticks without knowing. And if you’re wondering, it’s difficult to spot a tiny baby tick that is as small as a dot. I only got to know that I brought home ticks was when I showered my poodle. I found lots of baby ticks on her since she’s a white poodle and ticks can be easily seen. That’s a sign for me to check on my shih tzu who sadly got ticks too.

I knew I had to do something. I bought bottles of Bio-x spray for the environment. A bottle of Carrington to mop the floor with and also to soak my fur babies to kill the ticks that was on them. Every day I sprayed the Bio-x, mopped the floor with Carrington and remove the ticks on my dogs one by one. Although I was already so tired from work, I knew I had to clear up the mess I brought home from work. I do not want my home to be infested like the pet shop.

For months I have been doing the same routine. I decided to purchase a box of Front line as a last resort and despite me not wanting to use it, I knew I had no choice. I applied it for a couple of months and was glad the number of ticks decreased. But it didn’t end there. I thought I completely eradicate the pests as I haven seen them for about a month. Oh boy was I wrong. There were a few pesky buggers who managed to survive. My battle with tics didn’t end. Continuing my ritual of Bio-x, Carrington and front line took me about 6 months to fully clear every single tick. For more than 2 months without seeing any ticks, I can confirm that I won the battle.

In case you’re all wondering why I didn’t get pests controller, it’s because I was on a tight budget. I couldn’t afford pests controller at that point of time. Within my budget, I got the products I needed and manually did the cleaning and deticking myself.

With all the physical and mental torture that I went through with ticks, I had a phobia. I sprayed my bag and my grooming attire with lavender essential oil whenever I encounter a dog with ticks. Yes, after my ordeal, I found out the natural and safe product to use as prevention. And it smells nicer too.

Avoid The Misunderstanding

pug-694802_960_720 Ever had the frustration where you groomer misunderstood the style or the fur length of your fur baby? Before you go all crazy about the misunderstanding, here’s what I have to say on behalf of most groomers. We may interpret your instructions differently. So before you write that bad review, maybe give the groomer or grooming salon another chance for redemption.

Here’s my tip to avoid that misunderstanding and so far it works.

Pictures – Do you have a picture of your pet’s last groom that you like? Show it to the groomer who will have a rough idea of what you’re looking for. Picture paints a thousand words. But do note that each groomer have their own style if you’re the type that have no fix groomer. He/she may add a little of her style to the picture you showed. Thus don’t be surprise if it looks a little different than the picture.

Written Instructions – Don’t be surprise with written note/instructions. Instructions such as the exact/estimated fur length left would be helpful. This note comes in handy if a pet transporter is picking up your fur baby or your helper is bringing on your behalf. Although there might be a slight difference than what you expect, at least it’s not totally way off.

Discuss with Your Groomer – Unsure what style or what’s suitable for your fur baby, maybe you can discuss with your groomer. They may be able to advise you after accessing your pet’s skin and coat condition. It’s also a good way for both you and the groomer to get to know each other better.

Let The Creativity Flow – If you’re the type where it doesn’t matter what the style or fur length may be, you may opt to let your groomer decide it for you. Sometimes there’s a certain style the groomer would like to try, but most owners are reluctant thus they don’t have the opportunity to let their creative juices flow. Why not let your groomer try a new probably unique style for your pet? 

Do give some feedback too after each session if possible. Small feedback such as keeping the fur shorter or longer the next round does mean alot to us. This means alot and groomers would greatly appreciate it.

Introduction to Pet Grooming

puppy-1022421_960_720 Pet grooming is where the hygienic care and cleanliness of the pet are met. It may go through a process where the pet gets a total makeover to enhance its breed’s beauty. The pet may be prepared for show competition or just a normal pet clip.

Sometimes when making an appointment with the pet groomer, you’re always confused with full groom and basic groom. What’s the difference you may ask, and most of the time we would gladly reply you. Here’s a breakdown and the difference between the both.

Full groom is recommended for long coated dogs, such as poodle, Shih Tzu, schnauzer, Maltese etc. They require regular grooming session in order to keep their coat in tip top condition. It is usually done between 6 to 8 weeks. It comprises of the following:

  • Styling – It can be done with full scissoring, a full shave down (depending on skin and coat’s condition), or a mixture of both.
  • Nail Trim
  • Ear Cleaning
  • Trimming of Paw Pads & Hygiene Areas
  • Shower & Fluff Dry
  • Teeth Brushing – Not all grooming salon includes complimentary teeth brushing. Check with your regular groomers.
  • Expressing of Anal Gland

Basic groom is usually recommended for short coated breeds such as, JRT, short coat chihuahua, french bull, pug etc. Long coated breeds may opt to do basic groom in between their full groom appointments too. It is usually done on a monthly basis. It comprises of the following:

  • Nail Trim
  • Ear Cleaning
  • Trimming of Paw Pads & Hygiene Areas
  • Shower & Fluff Dry
  • Teeth Brushing – Not all grooming salon includes complimentary teeth brushing. Check with your regular groomers.
  • Expressing of Anal Gland

Pet grooming can be done by owners too. For example simple grooming such as brushing and combing of the fur, ear cleaning and showering. Owners may opt to take up Pet Owners Basic Grooming course where they will learn the proper grooming techniques and perform basic groom themselves.