If you have been grooming pets for more than five minutes, chances are that you have had some unusual requests. Sometimes it is as simple as “Please don’t trim the eyelashes,” and you look to see the dog in question has lashes that are so long they hang halfway down his face and must make blinking a challenge. (Pro tip: To help save those long lashes, moisten your index finger and thumb with water and wet the lashes from base to end. Then gently twist them, so they clump together. Next, working quickly before the lashes dry, trim the hair around the eyes. It will be easier to avoid the lashes when wet, stuck together, and more visible because of the moisture. Then comb and move on.)
Or it may be something a bit… more. One creative man wanted his American Cocker Spaniel to be shaved with a #7F blade all over but with what he described as “Clydesdale feet.” I could picture this and thought it might be kind of cute. I envisioned bell bottoms, starting about mid-leg and flaring out at the base. That is what I created. The man shook his head sadly when he picked up his dog. “Can I show you want I wanted?” He asked. I took him back to the grooming table. He had me clip off the cute, full, funky bell bottoms and leave just big, flat pancake feet. The dog looked ridiculous. The man loved it.
So, how do you deal with unusual requests? While some groomers that I talk to maintain relatively rigid policies about what styles they will or will not create, most stylists fall into the category of my friend Cheryl Workman, MPS. “My shop motto is ‘your pet, your way.’” She elaborates, “I do try to steer people away from haircuts that I know will look ugly, like if they want the legs very short and the body very fluffy. I tell them their pet will look like an ottoman and suggest other options. Other than that, I get some of the common requests, lion trims, mohawks, and ‘just cut out the mats.’ I find that with time, most people eventually return to a normal-looking haircut.”
Unusual requests can add a little interest to the daily routine if you let the pet owner’s creativity guide you into trying new things. Or it can leave you begging the person to never, ever tell people who groomed their pet.
By Daryl Conner, MPS, MCG
Daryl Conner has been devoted to making dogs and cats more comfortable and beautiful for almost 40 years. You can find her happily working at FairWinds Grooming Studio with her daughter and infant granddaughter, or typing away at her latest grooming-related article. Daryl was awarded both a Cardinal Crystal Award and Barkleigh Honors Award for journalism. She shares her meadow-hugged antique Maine farmhouse with her practically perfect husband and too many animals.