Everyone messes up a groom now and then, but rarely do we remember them soon aft3er they happen. Given a year we forget, or the dog goes elsewhere and we tune it out. To be honest, many times we never know we screwed up because the owners just go elsewhere and never tell us. One in particular stands out in my memory like a beacon shining bright. I will never forget my first screw up as a groomer.
I started my very first job as a groomer at a shop called For Pet’s Sake, here in Albany, Georgia on December 1995. The head groomer and the only one who knew anything about how to groom the dogs got miffed when I was hired and called in sick the entire week before Christmas, leaving me and the owner of the salon to handle that week alone.
I was right out of school and over my head big time! It would have helped a lot had the cards said something other than “Carmen knows” but that is literally what all the cards said! “Carmen knows” didn’t help me a bit! The owner was not a groomer and had no idea that I could not figure out what had been done to the dogs before. I was right out of school for gosh sakes! Today I could figure it out but then, no way.
Jodi Dover brought in her tiny little Maltese with hair all the way to the floor and asked for a puppy cut. The dreaded puppy cut was about to rear its ugly head!
I asked Katrina, the owner, what that meant to her, because to me that dog looked like it got a FFTT and in school we didn’t use that term. She said “A puppy cut is short like a puppy, what is wrong with you?” I remember those words like they were yesterday. I was holding Bianca in my arms, showing her the hair, which did not have a mat in it anywhere, asking again “Are you SURE she wants all of this cut off?” and she basically told me to “Just do it!”.
Even though in my heart I knew it was wrong I did what I was told to do. I used a 4F to cut this gorgeous, full coated dog shorter. The entire time I was doing it I doubted it and told Bianca that I was sorry, I knew it was a mistake, but I had to do what I was told.
When Jodi walked in the shop, Katrina had Bianca in the office area and I saw Jodi’s face. She was horrified to say the least. It was the week of Christmas and he dog looked awful. She actually threw her umbrella across the office she was so upset. Katrina tried to blame it on me, but I had a little bit of backbone and said point blank, “I ASKED YOU and YOU SAID TO cut her short!”
Needless to say we had to do the puppy for free until she grew back out. Normally that would be the end of the story, but it isn’t. I was gone by the time she had grown back out and actually forgot all about it. I was working in another area of the state, and when I returned to Albany I opened my own shop.
To my surprise, one of the first people to book an appointment in my new shop was Jodi Dover, with Bianca! All grown out again and looking really pretty. Things were great for a few months, and then she placed Bianca in a new home. The thing is she never told me she did that.
One day, Denise Reaves calls me with a Maltese named Bianca. I figured out really quickly that it was the same dog and then confirmed it with both women. Denise asked me was I the one that did her at the other shop, and I said yes, kind of hesitantly, because I didn’t know why she was asking. She then says “I want her cut like she was cut the day you screwed up!” Well I was in shock. I questioned her some more, and decided she was serious. I mean, I had to make sure I was not making another mistake, because I was a new shop and could not afford to give free grooms if I made a mistake. After making sure she was serious, I bit the bullet and did what she asked.
I was a better groomer by this time and took the dog down with a snap on comb rather than a 4F, and she loved it!
Bianca was I my shop on Saturday and I am still giggly over the first mistake I made as a groomer. She still comes to visit every eight weeks or so and is still kept slightly fluffy. She has no teeth left and we now have to shave her muzzle along the lip line to keep the hair out of her mouth. I think she is 16 years old now.
Maybe in every case you would not get this type of result, but in my case, my first mistake taught me several lessons, and I am grateful every day for that simple mistake that could have turned out so very bad. Those lessons are:
- Keep good records of what is done to every dog. “Carmen Knows” is useless.
- Always call owners if there is a question about instructions. Never assume.
- Accept responsibility for your mistakes.
- Make amends in whatever way you can, even if it means free grooming for a long time.
- Try to remember your mistakes because you never know when that knowledge will be needed.
I doubt I will see Bianca very many more times. I will be sad when she goes, but in the meantime, I smile every time I see her. I learned a lot from that simple mistake. Maybe you can learn from it too.