September 28, 2009 Oh those raging hormones!

Oh those raging hormones!

I am the mother of a twelve year old boy.. Any parent of a “tween” can tell you that’s when the fun begins, the sassing, and the pain in the you-know-what behavior that will drive a parent mad. Well now I get to inform you that this is the SAME behavior your dog will exhibit when leaving the cute butterball puppylike stage, just as hormones hit and he grows up to be a “big dog”. Pups in this stage of life, usually 6 to 18 months of age start to develop “attitude” and drive their owners nuts! This is also the stage where most dogs are given away or taken to the pound. Check any animal shelter statistics, the vast majority of dogs relinquished are less than 2 years old, and mostly due to behavior problems.

This is the time to really be the pack leader in your dog’s eyes. Cesar Milan “the Dog Whisperer” is one of my heroes when it comes to training dogs. Dogs want a leader truly, just as children really want limits, contrary to what they tell you. If there is no pack leader in the house guess what, your dog has to take on that role. It’s simply survival of the fittest and the bottom line is lead, follow or get out of the way. Easy ways to be a pack leader in your dog’s eyes are to make your dog wait at the door and you take the first step out, and then invite your dog out. Yes, even when it’s just to let him outside to go potty, same way coming back inside, make him wait at the door as you open it…pause and then say “ok, come in” and this means you “own” the door. Bolting out of it is no longer an option as that is disrespectful in dog speak. You are the leader and it’s up to YOU to set the boundaries.

This is the BEST time to squelch bad behaviors that used to be considered “cute” by you.

You know what I mean; jumping up on you as a 7 lb. puppy was cute, but now that we are 70 lbs, not so cute anymore. Jumping up on everyone else and knocking them down is also no longer cute. You need to think like a dog and discipline accordingly. Less talk and more action are needed. More body language and less treats to get him to comply. Quit bribing your dog and just be a leader to him. Watch “the Dog Whisperer” on National Geographic channel, if you don't get it in your cable or dish package, order it! It’s worth it!

The other thing that will help some of the problem behaviors is simply spaying and neutering your dog at that stage of life, but it’s never too late to do it. Hormones are what guides the behavior, lose the hormones and there’s nothing to fight about, run away for, and you are truly stopping some forms of cancer in it’s tracks if you don't allow your pet to have heat cycles and breed... Even male dogs can get tumors that cause anal sac problems and all sorts of issues as they age if they are never neutered. Males also smell better if they are neutered, intact males have an odor about them that you can't wash away, hormones. They will also be less likely to “mark” your house with urine, declaring their territory if you have them neutered young and reinforce your pack leader position.

I spoke with a client today who told me about her daughter’s 15 year old Labrador female who recently became very sick and lethargic, and when she went to the vet, they discovered a pyometra, or infected uterus in her. If the uterus had ruptured the dog would become septic and die. Luckily they caught it in time, and she was spayed and the entire infected organ was removed. The dog is now happy and perky at age 15!

I've seen intact female dogs that end up with breast cancer later in life, huge tumors that could've been prevented had they spent just a little money and spayed the dog early in life. Even if they don't have regular heat cycles, that’s hormonal. The very best thing you can do for your dog is have a little operation that will keep your dog free of breast cancer, and no unwanted puppies. There is really no puppy shortage, go to any animal shelter and they'll show you. Maybe you can even get them to give you statistics of how many dogs they had to euthanize due to lack of homes.

See, it’s really not as bad as it seems a little snip, snip and learn to be a pack leader and you will end up with a wonderful companion for a long time! The good news is puberty in dogs lasts about a year tops; in kids, several years. If only it were so easy to get through the hormonal changes of humans! You can't spay or neuter them and you can't give them away to a pound. Child protective services would also frown on putting them in a kennel or crate too or leading them around with a collar and leash. Sigh, they sure don’t make a parent’s job easy do they? No wonder dogs behave better than “tweenagers”!

Adventures in Hershey, PA

Hello all! Back from Hershey and wanted to give you a LONG but interesting account of the happenings that I went there for. I did not compete this time (I'm so not worthy of this group!) but I went to watch it and see how it's done Hershey style.
So we started out on my birthday, September 17th...a lovely EARLY morning...those of you who know me well, know how much of a morning person I am....

So this is what they call sunrise? Highly overrated!

Beautiful Pennsylvania a more decent hour.

We arrived Thursday evening and intended to do the town Hershey and visit the Chocolate World etc. On Friday. When we got to Chocolate World on Friday, we were greeted by the security guard telling us that Chocolate World and Hershey Park were CLOSED due to a power failure, this was the 2nd day. AAAGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!
11 hours we drove, and this brings back memories of our other infamous vacations ala the Griswold family from Chevy Chase's vacation movies! Lol!
Ok so plan B, we went to check out groom expo and shop! Not a bad plan B if you ask me.
The family was not so happy.
But Friday thankfully Hershey's Chocolate world was up and running and we had a ball!!!
I highly recommend this tour and the trolley tour if you've never taken it, it's an awesome history of a man that was truly a saint and worked hard for the welfare of children when he made the Hershey school and I even met a present student and her family who were staying at our hotel there. She had a family weekend. Really cool story (and everybody has one don't we?, more on mine later....)

Trolley tour of the Hershey school...fountain in front of it.
Seriously awesome place! All marble!

Then it was off to Chocolate world where we took in a 3D show which was wonderful! A chocolate "tasting" educational about chocolate, where it comes from, how it's used etc. Fascinating! A wonderful homeschooling subject for the day!

Lane and Drew in front of the Reece's race car.

Then we had some more time to kill that afternoon so we went on a cave tour nearby...

Again more educational stuff for their little heads...gotta love educational vacations!
Ok ok I know I'm keeping you in suspense, you want to see pictures of creative right????
First they had the model dog contest, and I only managed to get one photo...what a crowd!
But our Kathleen Putman recreated her carousel horse she did in creative years ago with a model dog! AWESOME!

Bear with me, not all the photos are wonderful, but it was seriously crowded and getting photos was like becoming a contortionist, I'm sorry if I don't have flattering shots of all you lovely people.

Anatomy of dog entry

This was a favorite of mine, it's NOT a poodle!!! A Great Pyranees made into a cow...
She even did a milking demo, a baby bottle hidden behind the dog and!
This entry got 2nd place! Hard to do competing with poodles! I loved it! She did a great job capturing the poll on the head, the square butt of a cow etc. And of course the udder.
I thought it was wonderful!

A dolphindoodle...I liked this one! Beautiful!

 a lab! Made into a sort of harry potter creature..
Sorry I'm not up on my harry potter.


Mardi Gras, one side..

And the other side.

A rainbow colored crayoodle! Taking a break...

This was nicely done! Legs were crayons...I loved the rainbow hair on his head
Reminded me of those clown wigs...very nice coloring!

Hidden from view, her props always over the top, ya gotta love Angela Kumpe

Her peacock!

Not sure if the dog or her outfits were more impressive lol!A beautiful job, took 3rd place!

Poodles were born to be wild!

The winner of peoples choice AND first place a total of $5,500 went to Lori Craig! I got a second to talk with her before the contest, she's very sweet and down to earth! I really LIKE HER!!!
Of course she did this and took first in Atlanta, told me she did very well in Dallas, don't know what placing that means...
And first in Hershey...I took several pics of her, I was in AWE!

Me thinks Lori needs some anti-monkey butt powder!
Lol! Do do do do...the lion sleeps tonight.....

She did an entire opening scene of the Lion King, she was the baboon and
Held up the lion baby to Mufasa!
She had gazelles, cheetahs etc it was WONDERFUL!!!
Seriously, you could make a play from this...she did awesome!

Lion attack?
Congrats to ALL the contestants they ALL did a wonderful job!!!

Alegheny mountains...

Ahh sunset! That's more my speed!

Goodbye beautiful Pennsylvania....

Then back towards home, but first a pit stop in West Virginia to meet the woman who was "almost" my birth mom. When I was looking for my birth family back in 1992, I ran across a woman the same name, age, area etc. But was the wrong person, however we chatted and kept in touch and she told me, you could've been mine, in 1968 I had a miscarriage, and she has always considered herself my "other" mother. I found my birth mom the next year
Meet Kathy Dunlap, my other mom and my sister from another mother Kathanna and girls...

Me and my hubby and other mom.
All in all a pretty good trip considering how it started off!
But on the way home Drew did manage to get sick in the car...too much mcdonalds grease I'm sure...bleegh.
I guess we can't get in a vacation without some vile thing happening to!
Some of you remember my trip to Florida several years ago when we all got the flu...jeeze that was bad!
So there you have it! Enjoy your day!


Sandy Blackburn
The Groom Room Pet Spa
1205 S. Brady St.
Attica, IN 47918
(765) 764-4330

Local Groomer Places 3rd in Runway Show

Local pet groomer Sandy Blackburn owner of The Groom Room Pet Spa in Attica participated in Chicago's All American Grooming Show August 14-16 and placed third in the "Abstract Runway Design" category.
This contest was a runway fashion show with the dog being showcased as the fashion and the groomer dressed in complementary clothing. The groomer was to put a unique haircut on the dog with little to no color, but something that could be done in a day at your salon that you could even do for a client.
Blackburn put a spiral design on her dog with a hibiscus flower cut into the design on the dogs hip. There were seven contestants from all around the United States participating. There were designs from leopard spots dyed into the dogs fur, to diamond shapes cut into the fur, there was even a Persian cat in the contest with a unique design carved into its fur.
The contest was judged by Jorge Bendersky of New York, he was a contestant last year on Animal Planet's show "Groomer Has It". When Bendersky was asked about what he looks for in a creative runway design he said, " I see it as a sculpture, pay attention to technique, and how it looks from all angles and from all distances, I imagine that dog in a open space as a piece of Art, it was a great line up, very close".
Bendersky was also the judge of the regular creative grooming class the next day and Blackburn did something that no other groomer has ever done, she used the same dog in that contest only 18 hours later transforming her spiral design into a rattlesnake!
"Jasmine was a terrific sport for the entire weekend." stated Blackburn. "Abstract Runway Design was on Saturday night at 9 pm and we got to bed around midnight, then the next day we started in around 10 am and the contest began at 3pm." However, the real test to see who was the most creative was when Blackburn arrived at the hotel in Chicago and discovered she has left the box with all of her grooming supplies, color blo-pens and glitter at home. "I was shocked! I thought my family had packed it, they thought I had packed it and the truth is, I moved it out of the way the day before we left and didn't see it, so I assumed it was packed. We spent the entire day Friday hunting for supplies and borrowing things from other groomers to get by. One thing I am thankful for is that the groomers I compete with are the most generous, wonderful people in the world. They offered me their supplies, knowing I would be competing against them but wanting to help out a fellow groomer in need".
Blackburn didn't place in the regular creative class but was still proud of her accomplishment.
"I may not be the most creative groomer, but using the same dog in two contests less than a day apart and with no supplies certainly makes me the most resourceful groomer!"

August 31, 2009 About Creative Grooming….

You know, I've had people who've seen my dog’s hair dyed and carved who love it and look forward to each new design, and I've had others who liken it to animal cruelty. I just want to clear a few things up for the naysayers. First of all, nothing harmful is ever used on the dogs. If it’s not safe for them, there is no way we would ever use it. We use things like food color, chalk, colored hair sprays, non-toxic blo-pens, animal safe dyes, and yes even human semi-permanent hair dyes, but nothing with any potential for a problem.
I've also heard people say that the animals must be ashamed of themselves or how they look, but it’s just the opposite! I know Jasmine is very happy to be “in color” so to speak because that automatically makes her a magnet for attention! Since she’s an attention hog anyway, this is right up her alley! In fact, although after our contest she was “dog tired” and I do mean TIRED! When we went to the area for the photographer this dog came to life instantly and LEAPED onto the table ready to have her picture taken! She’s also quite the camera hog, and most nights, a bed hog.
I've heard some people say the animals don't like it. Well if they didn't like it, I can assure you we wouldn't be able to do it very easily. In fact, the creative groomers I've met would never be able to use a dog that didn't like being groomed.
Those that think it’s torture for the dogs to be groomed need to be aware of a few things, first of all, we are groomers and although we sometimes require the dogs to stand for a while, no dogs that are old, in pain or have issues would ever be permitted to be in the contests. In fact, no dog over 10 years old is allowed to compete in any grooming contest.
Now my dogs are not fond of baths in general, is yours? However they tolerate them well enough to get to the fun part, getting up on the table and being dried and fussed with which is their favorite! Jasmine will also jump up on my table without commands, just to get to the good stuff! If she gets tired, we stop and take a break. After all, she has the easy part, standing or lying on the table. I am the one doing all the work!
I think my favorite comment was someone saying the dogs should be “natural” like they are shown at the Westminster dog show. Here’s a little secret, there is not much natural about dogs at dogs shows. I've seen more dyes and “make-up” applied to even beagles there that the word “natural” and “dog shows” just doesn't make a lot of sense. It may not make it “right” or “fair”, but it’s reality. In essence, it’s a beauty contest and flaws are covered. More time is spent “grooming” a natural looking breed such as a boxer at a dog show than your groomer spends on your not so natural looking poodle.
So what is really the harm in a little color on your pooch? As long as it’s safe for the dog, and the dog and the owner enjoy it, why should it be considered wrong? Groomers who do creative grooming have the most pampered and loved dogs in the world, far better than someone who neglects grooming entirely on their pet and lets them suffer. Creative grooming is artistic expression and it’s fun for dogs, owners and groomers. It’s worth it for me to see the smiles on people’s faces, and the look of joy on my dog’s face when she receives extra attention for her “look” and she’s not complaining.

August 17, 2009 Pondering's

Life is so ironic. It brings to mind all the little things about animals that perplex me. For instance, why is it that the dog that is impossible to give a pill to, no matter what you hide it in or mix it with, they find it and spit it out, or if you try to stuff it down them they manage to regurgitate it back up, will find human medication on the floor and gulp it down with enthusiasm, thus requiring a trip to the vet?

Why do cats get picky about the brand of cat litter you choose? When you buy the best and most expensive kind, they suddenly change their mind and decide to use your laundry for a litter box instead.

Why do we long for a “smart” dog, and when we have one, they are so smart they teach themselves how to open the refrigerator and help themselves to the leftovers?

Why are dogs so addicted to garbage? I've seen teamwork in action! I now have a cabinet to put the trash can in but before that I used to set it up on top of the kitchen island at night, out of reach of the dogs. Then my “smart” cat would get up on the island and hurl herself at the top of the trash can, tipping it over and spilling the contents on the floor for the dogs and cat to eat.

Why do dogs that love to swim in ponds hate to have baths? Why do they go out and roll in something disgusting after you've spent 2 hours washing them and making them pretty?

Why do dogs that bark and growl at people who are harmless, suddenly turn into quivering masses of jelly when it’s a REAL bad guy at the door? Some watchdog!

Then I'm reminded of why after dealing with all the headaches pets can cause, we still love them so much.

Nobody greets you like a dog! You could simply step outside for a minute to get the mail and when you come back inside; your dog greets you with such enthusiasm! Wow! You're back! I've missed you! Wag, wag, wag!

When you are down, there’s always a cold nose nuzzling you and licking away your tears. If you are sick they will lay beside you or on top of you, keeping you warm, unlike the rest of the humans in the house who don't want to get your germs.

There is no such thing as an empty lap at my house. Somebody is going to come and fill it up. If you are visiting and you aren't particularly fond of animals, no worries, they will come directly to you and work hard to change your mind by pestering you the most.

Nobody loves you like your pets do. They may not be able to tell you in words, but they show it in ways we take for granted every single day. They don't yell or complain, they don't gripe about your housekeeping or what you made for dinner. They are satisfied with any little crumbs of affection you share with them. They look at you with adoration in their eyes, happy to just be in the same room as you. No human does all that.

Pets are a source of comfort and love; they give us companionship, lower our blood pressure, and listen to us when we've had a bad day. They make us laugh, keep us young, and give us a purpose for being when we just can't seem to find any other reason.

In the end, I guess it really doesn't matter that there is extra cleaning up to do around here. The love we receive in return is worth it. Excuse me, but I feel the need to go hug some 4-legged members of my family right now. I hope you do too.

August 3, 2009 12 Step Programs for Groomers

Well it’s that time of year again for me. Time to head to Chicago for the All American Grooming Show and stock up on grooming supplies and brute for punishment that I am, I bit the bullet and yes, registered to compete in not one, but two creative grooming shows being held there this year.

The first show will be held August 15th and it’s a new one they are having called “Abstract Runway Design” it will be at 9 p.m. That evening and they are looking for a unique trim with little to no color, and a complimentary outfit on the groomer. This is sort of a “modeling” bit for groomers to show off their talents and look like models strutting their stuff and walking their dog down a runway. Since the bar is being raised so high that regular creative grooming is really getting out of my range of capabilities I thought this may be more to my liking. After a little encouragement from friends, I entered online. Then it happened…

The competition bug bit me and I thought about what I could do for the runway design, a spiral trim with just a hint of color, but oh no, that wasn't good enough. The wheels in my head started turning and I thought, I could turn that spiral trim into a rattlesnake design I had planned on doing one day. Sure! Why not! The creative show isn't until 3pm the next day, I could re-do the spiral design, color the spirals into a snake, carve out a little more hair and snag two contests with ONE dog! Unheard of!

Surely THIS would make me the most creative groomer wouldn't it? I found myself checking boxes on the online registration form for both contests! Before I had time to think about the repercussions of what I had done, it was too late. I had already hit the enter button and it was over with. I spent the rest of the night sketching my designs on paper and perfecting it in my head.

The next day Jerry Schinberg called me from the All American Grooming Show because he was confused about my registration form.

“Hiya Sandy, it’s Jerry Schinberg, I see that you are entering contests and I just wanted to clarify some things”

“Sure Jerry, how can I help?”

“You have both the abstract runway design and regular creative grooming checked, which one are you entering?”

“Both of them” I replied.

“I see, you will have two dogs then”

“No, just one dog” I replied.

“Uh, ok, so you are entering both contests and using a different dog in each one correct?”

“No Jerry, I’m using the same dog for both contests” I replied.

“But if you do that you have to make each trim SIGNIFICANTLY different” Jerry warns.

“Oh, they WILL be different, no worries there!” I reassure him.

I asked him if I could tell him what I'm doing, or if that’s a no-no, but he told me it was ok. So I explained my ideas to him and said, “Now Jerry, you gotta admit, that using the same dog, making two completely different designs in two different contests that are only 18 hours apart is pretty darned creative!”

“It'll be fine if you can pull it off.” He replied and we ended our conversation.

It was a little while later the gravity of what I had done hit me, and how HARD this was going to be.

What was I thinking? Am I that wrapped up in competition that it’s not good enough to enter just one thing, but both? Good Lord, why do I do this to myself! It was only four months ago that I went to the Nashville show and turned Jasmine into a “corn dog”. After that it was 4H dog obedience and agility for her and the boys, and now its back to grooming shows again. Is there a 12-step program for this type of addiction? When will I be satisfied? Every time I think that’s the best I can do, I gave it my best shot, and vow to never enter again, the competition bug bites me and I fall victim to it.

Worse yet, my husband has the bug too, and for some odd reason after 21 years of marriage, he is suddenly interested in my hobbies. I only planned to go to buy grooming supplies and not compete. I even waited until the last day to register. Then he asked me if I had booked the room yet. He is genuinely interested in this competition and really standing behind me in this madness! I think that makes him an “enabler” doesn't it?

I was planning on just going alone, staying with a friend, getting my stuff and going home but oh no, now it’s a family affair! And so, now I have to get some costumes for me and the boys ready, Tim decided that watching the show was good enough, he didn't want to be one of the props.

He is even toying with the idea of buying a 4-door full sized truck to haul our stuff around in! Even “I” don’t have the bug that bad! I’m trying to talk him out of that, just what we need, a gas guzzling truck. The gas guzzling S10 blazer is bad enough thanks. If you can’t haul your stuff dear “downsize”. It’s only 2 shows, maybe 3 a year. Is it really worth spending the money on a truck? Please someone shake some sense into us! Is there a creative grooming show anonymous meeting anyplace out there? Perhaps there’s one in Hershey, Pennsylvania next month at their grooming show, I hear it’s the show to end all shows! You know I just HAVE to go there!