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  • Writer's pictureNora Bird

Get Your Hair-Dude

How often do you get your hair cut? More to the point, how often do you brush or comb your hair? Mostly daily, sometimes every other day? Are you a human with the cognition to handle your feelings and emotions? If you're reading this, the answer is YES. You know what? Dogs can't read. They can't talk. They don’t have thumbs or the vocal development to express themselves or understand expectations. Logic, amiright?!

So it stands to reason, much as they learn that five o'clock is dinner time, we as their protectors can equally reinforce the need for grooming. It should be part of your pet's


"You're mean!" he said to me while I soaked his face and touched his butt. And, truthfully, I felt like a big mean bully. But I know from years of experience that I can make this into a soothing little game full of kisses and treats. And continuing this game simultaneously lightens my mood and creates a bond of trust he'll have not just for me, but for all groomers, which will ease his stress and facilitate the experience. For your dog’s entire life.

Conversely, I groomed a Wheaton (always a draining task) whose Human Protectors feel like grooming is mean and stressful. Due to her lack of regular maintenance, she was matted. This is very painful. And it rightfully triggers stress. What do you expect, when she's only groomed every eight months? She's never been given the opportunity to acclimate, so an otherwise fun, functional experience becomes a hardened, harsh memory. No wonder she doesn't want to come back.

Dudes, remember your kid's first haircut? They cried, tried to escape, and then you had to give them a bunch of sugary nonsense? But by the second haircut it wasn't so bad. That's because even at 18 months your child has better cognition than a 12 month old puppy. Which is why consistent repetition and routine are so important to develop trust between your dog and groomer.

My point is this: I'm not 100% sure what the cutoff is but there's definitely a line where dogs surpass kids in cuteness and endearing simplicity. (Secret. I first use the word "stupidity" before replacing it with "simplicity". I didn't want to come off as a complete asshole.)

So do yourself and your beloved pet a favor: start grooming at nine weeks.

Oh, and: get a referral and find someone you trust. It's not that the groomers at the big commercial places aren’t good or worth trying. I started there and it’s worked out pretty ok so far. What places like Petco & Petsmart have in common is their willingness to waste time and money on people that won’t be invested in a long-term career. They train you and teach you. Eventually you get sick of the corporate nonsense and matriculate to another salon where you will continue sharpening your skills and learning from those around you. You either invest in your skills or look for something in another industry. It happens all the time. You like dogs, but maybe not enough to make a career of it. Those people will move on to bigger, if not better than definitely more lucrative careers and the rest of us will continue making dogs our lifestyle and invest our time & money into caring for other people's pets. And those become the people you can trust.

As of today I’ve done no advertising, and as I sit here writing this, this blog doesn't even have a domain name. I take clients solely through referrals. I make a decent living and the people who entrust me with their pets are friends of neighbors, my kid’s room mom at school, and her beloved cousin. I have the time to talk to them all because I’m not so big and they feel reassured that I’m going to know their dog’s name and take exceptional care of Fido.

So please remember, for the love of your dog and the sanity of your groomer, start your grooming routine early. Brush your dog's hair so they understand the brush isn’t a torture device.

Get a good referral, get three, and find someone who will lovingly care for Bella/Chase and bring them often even if it's for a quick smooch and a treat. This way, when your floofy pooch has to go for regular grooming the puppy isn’t terrified and thinks she's is being punished. I want to kiss all the dogs, please don’t raise them to be scared of me! Make me part of their lives so neither of us cry when we're together.

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