Artists and writers are known to need other employment from time to time to pay the bills. I have been a customs broker, a traffic clerk for an independent music company, a printshop assistant, a souvenir designer, and a bartender among other things.
My current day job is assistant at a dog grooming salon. I do not wield any tools – no scissors, clippers, or tweezers for me. I bathe, dry, and brush the dogs, and when required I am a canine positional facilitator. (I hold the dog for the groomer.)
People buy Bernese Mountain Dogs and Golden Retrievers – beautiful long haired breeds – and then they never brush their dog. They could buy a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog or a yellow Labrador Retriever – basically the same dog in short hair.
People buy doodles – labradoodles, golden doodles, berndoodles – which are not breeds but mixes, and hope that the poodle side will render the dog’s coat hypoallergenic. They could buy a Standard Poodle that would be guaranteed to have poodle hair.
People buy “designer” dogs at pet stores or on-line. Maltipoos, shih-poos, yorkie-poos, and schnoodles are mixes wherein a puppy mill only needs one male poodle and assorted bitches.
Since these are not breeds of dogs, there is no way to know if they are “correct” as puppies. Puppies are pretty darn cute, and a mixed Benji-style terrier puppy can appear identical to any of the pet store “breeds” above.
Mammals are defined by a few features. Mammaries to feed the young. Warm blood. And HAIR. Yes, hair is natural on a mammal. It may even have evolved that way for a reason. (Imagine!)
Individual hairs will wick sweat and moisture away from the skin. Hair can protect from the sun, the wind, the rain. Hairs can raise or lay down as required. Hairs can warm and hairs can cool. Let hair do its job.
For some reason, the last quarter century on this continent, mammals are rejecting hair. Humans are removing more hair from more surfaces of their bodies than ever in memory. (Then you buy some hair extensions or maybe some hair plugs for the surfaces where hair is ultimately desired.)
And now I see a trend to shaving pets for convenience. Mammals shed hair. Then re-grow hair. So people have always swept or vacuumed the hair.
In wild animals, hair shedding is natural and stimulated by the seasons, and walking through or rubbing up against bushes and branches acts as nature’s hairbrush. Ever seen the camel at Parc Safari?
Most fur bearing animals will have a double coat. You can best think of this as a woolen sweater covered up by a windbreaker. That wooly undercoat will be shed for the warm weather. That outer coat is necessary in winter and summer. Don’t shave your dog. Your dog NEEDS the windbreaker for its skin. Shaved dog skin is unnatural and should not be exposed to the sun, or the other elements.
Your dog is not a wolf. Your dog has been bred by humans – often a case of ‘I want to breed my mutant with your mutant!’ (If you think about it, we breed dogs in an opposite fashion to livestock. Livestock wants a conformity of health throughout the breed. Farmers don’t purposely breed the runt of the litter. Cows have always been about the same size.) But if one of my puppies is weird or mutated or the runt, then THAT is the dog we want. Your dog didn’t evolve, it was genetically modified.
Your dog is not a wolf. The undercoat will not shed like one. (Someone asked me what shih-tzus do in the wild. I like to imagine packs of wild shih-tzus running through the Chinese wilderness. With monkeys grooming them.) Your dog must be brushed.
Why won’t you brush your dog? And no, your child is not brushing the dog, so no, you can’t pass the blame onto the kid. And your groomer can tell that you don’t brush your dog. You could pay the groomer to brush your dog if you are so darned busy. Time or money, gotta choose. Put the time in, or pay someone else to do it.
Why do you leave that undercoat in ALL SUMMER?… to get wetter, and more tangled, and dense, and dirt-trapping – the perfect environment for hot spots, and skin infections. It would be like putting a wet woolen sweater under that windbreaker for the whole summer. And that is what stinks – the undercoat. The wooly matted sweater with all the dirty water and urine and backyard debris.
And now, at the end of the summer, with your unbrushed dog, you want it groomed.
No clipper is going through the middle of those mattes. No scissors can cut them apart. The only way is to shave next to the skin, UNDER the matted hair.
This is not the zip-zip of sheep shearing competitions. The clipper will start at the top of the neck. The clipper is not easily cutting the dirty dense matted hair so it is slow going. Maybe a couple of inches is shaved at a time, then shave next to it a couple of inches, then next to it… then lower down, and so on and so on.
One large dog with a dirty coat can dull a blade. Like peeling a banana except the banana skin is adhering so tightly to the fruit that you can only gently peel down a millimeter at a time, going around and around, each peel in turn.
If you pull too hard, you will break the fruit. If there are any moles or skin tags or warts on your dog’s skin, they will be almost impossible to detect. In fact the clipper’s blade is what is most likely to find them.
Your dog is upset and weirded out by now. The sensation of air on the skin, the itch of the hair, the weight of the pelt hanging off as it is being shaved – all of these will likely make your dog jumpy and twitchy and try to pull away from the person with the clipper.
When shaving a dog’s leg – there are a lot of bends and delicate spots. As your dog jerks its leg away, the groomer has to be careful not to cut any skin. We are very kind. The canine positional facilitator will be holding and soothing your dog. We may give your dog a break.
But believe me, you wouldn’t want to watch. Your kids would be upset. It takes a long time.
And the reason your dog has to go through all of this, is because you won’t brush your dog.