If the raging storm was any indication of what Mother Nature has in store for us this winter, I am not happy. We were lucky last weekend. Our area only got six inches of snow where others got one to two feet. What excellent timing! I don’t mind being snowed in on a Sunday. Monday they were forecasting a sunny day. By then the roads will be plowed and I’ll be ready for action.
If the happiest day is putting the heaters back in my hubby’s shop in the spring, the saddest day is when they come back out in December. What makes it even more depressing is turning the clocks back one hour in the fall. By four thirty when it starts getting dark, I just want to pack it in and head home. Mobile grooming in a cold weather climate is so hard.
Wintertime brings extra chores like dragging the heaters in and out of the van. Warming up the engine is always a good idea too. Because this requires another trip outside, don’t forget to bundle up! If the windshield is icy, out comes the scraper. Oh, it’s a nightmare!
Since many of us groom in winter weather it is important to dress properly. I wear lots of layers so I can remove them if the weather warms up. I also wear two grooming smocks. In case one gets wet, I replace it with a dry one. Wearing the right shoes is crucial. I am a huge fan of Uggs and Smart Wool Socks. They are comfortable, waterproof and keep my feet warm and toasty. I always have an extra pair of shoes onboard. When I first went mobile I stepped out of my van into a deep puddle. I wore wet shoes all day!
I don’t let my gas tank fall below half full in the winter because you never know what winter weather will bring. Last week a friend of mind got stuck in her car for FOUR HOURS when many of our highways were closed due to accidents and icy conditions.
If you can, leave one or two days open during January and February. This way you will have a place to move customers to if you are snowed in. If you don’t, you might have to work on a Saturday or a Sunday or add grooms onto the end of your day. This will make it necessary for you to work late and into the dark. If you don’t need to use your “snow day” take the day off if you can. It’s good for the soul. Stay in your pajamas, rest up, drink tea and read old posts on petgroomer.com. That’s what I would do! lol
When it comes to filling up my clean water tank, I consider myself lucky. I am able to fill directly from my indoor laundry sink using hoses that are hot water rated. Most groomers fill at night and heat their water in their vehicle with propane. Just make sure if you do use an outdoor faucet that it is properly insulated. Have a back up plan just in case a big freeze sets in.
The roads can be very treacherous for mobile groomers. If it’s snowing or the roads are icy, I stay home. If you are able to venture out, sometimes it’s difficult to find a place to park because of all the snow that is piled up on the side of the road by the snowplows.
There’s so much to consider. Should I pull into the owner’s driveway? Will I be able to back out? Is the driveway icy? Has the walkway been shoveled and salted? Oftentimes, I call ahead and ask the owner to open the garage door. I take as few steps as possible picking up and returning the pet to the home.
My hands require extra attention in the winter because they get so dry from bathing the dogs in the cold weather. I love my HomeMedics Parrafin Bath that I got at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I use it a few times a week. It’s so soothing and relaxing! I highly recommend it for dry, cracked hands.
One thing I find frustrating during the winter is it is hard to keep the van clean during the day. The floor stays wet because your shoes are muddy or filled with snow. There is also moisture and condensation in the van from bathing dogs. The hair sticks everywhere. Oftentimes, it is a losing battle but I do the best I can. Have your fans and vents work for you. Keep in mind that moisture in the van can rust your tools and makes your floor slippery.
This is the harsh reality of mobile grooming where I live. This winter I am taking a week off in January and in February to help the time pass quickly. Ten months of the year I’m as happy as a clam mobile grooming. The other two…I am not a happy camper.
If you live in a sunshine state please ignore everything I’ve said. You’ve got it made! This doesn’t apply to you. If you live in a four-season climate like I do and you’re considering going mobile, take into consideration the weather you will have to endure. If you’re not up to the challenge, come up with another option. Mobile grooming is not for the faint of heart when the snow falls and the temperatures drop.
March 20, 2010 is the first day of spring. Only 73 days to go and counting……
Ellen Ehrlich Author of the book “Go Mobile And Succeed”