Growing up, our dog got one professional hair cut a year (their "summer" cut) and possibly a few home baths. But I've been part of the get-them-groomed pack for years, with cuts and blow-dries for my dogs every 6 to 8 weeks. Recently, my dear friend Nancy Massett, owner of In-Dog-Neat-O Mobile Grooming, asked if I could help as her assistant had bailed. "Sure. It will be fun to see what you do." Well, I saw first-hand how Nancy truly "works like a dog," and it was quite an eye opener! She picked me up at 7:00 a.m. on a cold, snowy day,. Nancy said our schedule was light; only 9 dogs. "Only nine? Yikes!"
We arrived at her first client's home where I met their three adorable little pups… Tootsie, Cinco & Sunny. After loving goodbyes from Mom and Dad, off to the van we went. Two stayed on the floor, and we plopped Tootsie into the tub securing her with a short lead so she wouldn't jump out. Since the dog was tiny, my job was to simply keep her happy. "Ohm this is going to be easy," I thought. And it did start out that way, but as the day went on we progressed to bigger and bigger and hairier dogs.
After Tootsie was thoroughly soaked, Nancy gave her a Blueberry facial (Yes, Blueberry) followed by a Citrus butt rub! "What… a Citrus butt rub???" She explained that Citrus helps eliminate tough, unpleasant smells. "Oh my!" Next came the full-body wash with a nice smelling Honey/Almond dog shampoo followed by a thorough rinsing. Soaking, sopping little Tootsie now looked tinier than ever! Before placing her on the grooming table, she got a quick blow dry to get the major water off.
Next came the real blow dry, and I learned that it's easier to dry one's own hair than a dog's. There truly is a technique that isn't that easy! The initial dry begins with an all-over blowing out to 6" from the dog to get more water off. Next you work small sections close-up to get the undercoat dry. It takes Fur-ever and the 'back & forth flick of the wrist' motion is paramount…and not easy to master, though Nancy made it look easy as I bumbled along.
She then combed Tootsie, cut her hair, trimmed her nails and then onto the next two pups with the same routine. We returned the three to their proud parents and drove on to meet the next client.
I must admit I don't remember all of the dogs and stops that day. It became a furry blur! The ones that still stand out seem to be the long-coated hairy ones, as my first thought upon seeing them was, "Oh no, it's going to take forever to dry them." Some of the big and older dogs needed help getting into the tubs, so we lifted them up…and lifted them down, Some would try to shake the water off their coats the entire bath time, ensuring that we were also thoroughly soaked. We went from wet and cold to hot and sweaty as we dried them.
By mid-morning, I'd gotten the routine down., Into the house to meet the client. Out to the van with the pups. Up to the tub. Get wet. Down to the grooming table. Time to sweat. Brush, comb, clip, snip and then back into the house! Over and over again with a quick break to eat the (by then fur-covered) sandwiches we'd pick up along the way. Hampton, North Hampton, Exeter, Kingston, Greenland, Stratham…you name it, we went there!
I kept counting the remaining number of dogs in my head and glancing at the clock. The day was getting blurrier and blurrier, not only in terms of the stops we made, but also because the snow was really coming down. Charlie the Goldendoodle was our last dog. Hurrah!!! Except not really, as his house was at the top of a hill; and here we were in a 9,000-pound van without 4-wheel drive. We made it up okay, and Charlie was adorable and a champ. Leaving was another story, as we backed down the drive literally inch by inch hoping not to slide into Stratham Heights Road with blind curves in each direction.
"So, what did you think?" Nancy asked. "Wow, my hat is truly off to you. I had no idea how physically and mentally exhausting your job is," I responded. She then said that today was easy as we had all good dogs. "Easy? You've got to be kidding!" Now don't get me wrong. I met wonderful creatures and people that day. But when I arrived home 9 hours later, I was one whipped pup. My hair looked like hell. My face was smudged with mascara. All I wanted to do was take a shower, shampoo and dry my own hair (which takes only 5 minutes)…and sit down with a glass of wine! Believe me, I've a huge new appreciation for professional groomers! Kudos to all.
Note: You can learn more about Nancy Massett at her website: www.indogneatonh.com.