September 19, 2007 I'm going "spa" in my salon now

I'm going "spa" in my salon now

I recently went to Chicago to a grooming show. These shows are held around the country and have seminars for groomers on all kinds of grooming subjects, business subject and offer demonstrations for grooming certain breeds of dogs. I’ve been attending this show in Chicago for the past 6 years. Every year no matter how much you think you know, you always come away with new tips and tricks and get that breath of life back into you so you can’t wait to get back to your own salon and use them. I’m sure hair shows for beauticians are similar.
The shopping for products at the shows is amazing! New products to try out, new shears to try on, grooming equipment, shampoos, conditioners, rinses, mousses, texturizers, volumizers, de-tangling products, tools, books, grooming clothes, as well as some fun gifts and things to sell in your salons. Well, all I can say is, I shopped ‘til I dropped. I always buy my shampoos and conditioner to last the entire year. Shows usually have specials and you don’t have to pay shipping when you can bring it all back in your car. It wasn’t until I added up my receipts that I realized how much money I spent! ACK! Guess I’ll be busy grooming dogs to make up for it.
I did discover a new product recently, and tried it out, and luckily, the company was at the show and had more of it for me to buy. It’s called “South Bark’s Blueberry Facial” for dogs. Oh my, the dogs turn into wet noodles when I use it on them. It works wonders on the nervous dogs, the blueberry aroma calms them down and I simply wash their face in it, and massage their faces and the dogs are in heaven. It has been a Godsend for the anxious dogs! I’m so impressed by the product I’m going “spa” in my salon now. Everyone gets a blueberry facial with their grooming. Dogs that hate baths seem to relax with this product, which makes me feel good too. That’s the entire point of grooming, not only to make the dogs look good, but feel good too! Happy dogs make happy owners and happy groomers. I’ve always kidded my clients about bringing their dogs to the doggy spa, but now, it’s not a joke. I only wish I could get the same treatment for me!
There are grooming competitions as well, and I can only dream of having a dog that looks that good, most are retired show dogs that the groomers use, which does give you an edge when grooming. After all I can’t make my poodle with her faults (albeit not noticeable to most people) look as good as a show dog. So while I can’t make her look perfect, (she’s perfect in my eyes anyway), I can enter her in creative grooming competitions. In the creative grooming class, you aren’t trying to make your dog look like the breed standard; you are trying to create something off the wall and unique! You get to use colors and dyes, and carve designs in the coat! You can even turn a standard poodle into an entirely different animal! I’m truly in awe of the creative groomers I’ve watched over the years. I’ve even entered a few contests myself, I turned a client’s standard poodle into a Clydesdale two years ago and won third place, and the year before that I won second place with my dog groomed to look like a tree with fall leaves, not an easy feat to color a black dog! Last year my dog Jasmine was turned into a “lobster,” complete with background of a restaurant, and I was dressed like a chef serving her up to the judge. Unfortunately, we didn’t place last year, but the competition was FIERCE! I would hate to be the judge of that class, because you are judging on the creative aspect, plus the execution of the design and the background or skit, and it’s an art. Art is in the eye of the beholder. In a regular class a judge is comparing the trim to the breed standard, did they show correct angulations of the rear legs, etc. However, creative grooming is an entirely different and fun class, and while I didn’t enter this year, because I’m saving my creative entry for Dallas, Texas in November, the entries were FABULOUS! The bad news is I will be competing against them in November and I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something to top them. This is NOT going to be easy. They keep raising the bar and it gets harder and harder to compete! I’m enclosing a photo of two entrants in the creative class. These groomers are fabulous and wonderful people with a lot of talent!
On the left is “Wild, Wild West” a horse…and on the right is “Hoochie Poochie”…well the name speaks for itself!
And you thought groomers just scrubbed dogs….

September 5, 2007 Lost in Cyberspace

September 5, 2007

Lost in Cyberspace

I want to apologize to my readers who may have missed my column in the paper a few weeks ago. It seems when I emailed my column to the editor, it got lost in cyberspace, and she never received it. Sometimes I hate computers, although I really don’t know what I’d do without one now after using mine daily for the past several years. I’ve really become dependant on the internet for news and updates and it’s been an invaluable resource for researching information and looking up things. It has become the new library. My motto is, have a question? Look it up in the great big box of everything! Then internet has been my classroom, my encyclopedia, my teacher, my doctor at times, and has put me in touch with people all over the world that can share their life experiences with me at the click of a button.
I received a compliment the other day that I’ll never forget, a client told me that one of the things she loves about me is not that I’m local or convenient, or that I’m a nice person too, but that I will get the answer to a problem and not give up until I do. That was so touching to me, because that is how I work. I want to get to the root of the problem; I’m not satisfied until I do. A friend once told me that when I put my mind to something I’m a force of nature! Somehow, I never thought of it that way, but it describes me to a “T.”
I started grooming dogs 10 years ago. I volunteered at a vet clinic in Crawfordsville to learn it from their groomer. They thought I had a “knack” for it, and soon asked me if I’d like to work there so I did on my days off from my job at Bank One. I worked there until I was about 8 months pregnant and couldn’t reach the dogs anymore! That’s the problem with being “vertically challenged,” my arms are short too!
I opened up my own shop when my son was 5 months old, but I have to admit, I didn’t know much. It wasn’t until I discovered the “internet,” that I really began learning things about grooming I had never known until that point. I had avoided getting a computer because I didn’t want to “chat” with anyone; I just wanted to send email to my friends and family. Little did I know what was about to happen. I became hooked on finding information, and I found some online groomer groups that have put me in touch with seminars around the country, I’ve met some of these groomers at those events and we stay in touch. The wonderfully talented groomers who have shared their tips and tricks with me over the years have taught me more about grooming that I could ever have learned at a grooming school or by apprenticing with another groomer. They have been there for support when things go wrong, and they’ve given honest critiques. Through them, I’ve learned business strategies, marketing techniques, and a number of things you can’t learn on your own. I have the value of their years of experience, and luckily, they are generous enough to pass on their experience to me. I am truly blessed.
This is not to say that everything you read on the internet is the best advice or necessarily the truth, but I have enough sense to check out the rumors, ask others if something I read is feasible, and I usually find my way. This has allowed me to pass on important information on pet care to my clients, and to my readers, because you can’t hear everything you need to know on the 6 o’clock news.
The internet has opened up doors for me that I couldn’t have imagined! In fact, I was contacted by email in April by Adams Media to write a book! What are the odds of that? I wasn’t looking to write a book, it came to me, and so “The EVERYTHING Dog Grooming Book” will be published in August of 2008 and be for sale. To say I’m excited is an understatement; I have spent my summer writing this book and am currently in the revision stage. I get to leave my “mark” on the world! I’m sure without the internet that would never have been a possibility.
I’ve found some wonderful websites I’d like to share with you, I frequent these sites often, and I think you’ll find interesting information on pet care that you can use. This site has articles by Dr. T.J. Dunn D.V.M. that are important and helpful to anyone with a pet. I’ve actually spoken with Dr. Dunn on the phone, and found him to be well informed, open to new information and a very valuable resource. In fact, I recommended him to be the technical advisor of my upcoming book, which he graciously did.
One site that has kept me up to date on the dog food recalls, and it also has some great articles on it is I get daily updates from this site, and can keep up with the latest pet news.
I’m also in the process of developing my own website, so hopefully soon I’ll have that web address for you. Yes, the internet has opened up a completely new world for me, and my career in grooming, training, and writing. Even though sometimes things go wrong and get lost in cyberspace, it’s something I would rather not live without, and those of you who may be intimidated by the internet, trust me, take a chance, look up some information and you’ll soon find yourself hooked! Who knows what doors the internet could open up for you.