Previous month:
September 2010
Next month:
November 2010

October 2010

Getting Ready for the Holiday Season


If you have been grooming for any period of time you understand that the months of November and December can be your best friend or your worst enemy. People some out of the woodwork to try to get their pets groomed. I mean, forget that Fluffy hasn't had a bath in 6 months! Grandma is coming to visit and that means Fluffy MUST be groomed, and it MUST happen today!

Many of us increase our grooming exponentially during these two months. It means we have extra money for the holidays, but it also puts a terrible toll on our bodies and our minds. There will be little time to get things done that need doing during the heaviest of the rush, so I try to plan ahead.

There are things that you can do now, during the two weeks or so before the storm hits in full force, that will make your holiday rush go more smoothly.

  1. Post and changes to your hours as soon as you have them set, and make sure all of your clients know what days you will be available during the holidays. We are usually open the Friday after Thanksgiving and it is generally a very busy day for us. I post signs in October to tell our clients what they can expect. Don't forget to update your website with your holiday hours as well.
  2. Order shampoo and sprays in advance. Having extra on hand will help when you have the extra dogs in the shop. Adjust your inventory to handle any excess you are expecting. I usually have an extra full case of shampoo on hand and two gallons of conditioning sprays as back up.
  3. Service all clippers and have spare parts on hand in case something decides to quit working. If you have one pair of clippers this is extremely important at all times, but during the holidays it can be critical. I keep hinges, blade drives and Tune Up Kits (Laube user) in case I need them. I have multiple clippers but I am sending off all of the ones that might need servicing this week. I have been stick with no clippers working before and I will not let that happen again.
  4. Make sure your dryers are in good working order. Have extra brushes on hand and know how to install them if they need it. Recently one of my dryers stopped working altogether. It was simply brushes but it happened at a time when I had to have a dryer, so I ended up buying a new one to have on hand until the older one was repaired. If you can afford it, buy a backup dryer just in case. Either a small, new one or a used one will work great until you can get your favorite one serviced and will generally not cost as much as you will lose if you are down a dryer. Used products are listed here quite often and I have been very lucky when buying things here.
  5. Do a deep cleaning now so that the weeks when it is crazy you do not have to do it. Things that may not normally get done, like moving cage banks, baseboards, dusting picture frames, cleaning out closets and drawers. Wiping down walls in places that may get forgotten. Doing these things will help you out in the long run and mean that it does not need doing during the busiest time of year. Plus it is always nice to have a clean shop. I also hire someone to clean up the exterior of my building in October. They pressure wash, clean up all the extra brush and limbs, trim hedges, mulch flower beds and all of the outside stuff so that I do not have to worry about it and then, when the decorating for Christmas is done the place is clean and neat.
  6. Sharpen all blades and shears that are even thinking about going dull. I remember one year having my husband drive 3 and a half hours to Atlanta to have shears sharpened in the middle of the holiday rush to get blades and shears sharpened because I was down to one pair of shears and just a handful of blades. I no longer have that problem, aw I have lots of shears and blades, but I also prepare better. If you have a tradeshow coming up or a mobile sharpener that services your area then take advantage of them and get your things done now so that you will not be stuck when you need your things to work the most.
  7. Get your holiday ribbons and bandanas ready to go. In the afternoons when I am waiting on pickups, I cut and sew my bandanas, get my bows ready and get whatever decorations we want on collar covers made in advance. When the need arises I am ready to go. It gives me something to do in the down time and helps me be better prepared for the crazy times.
  8. Sign all Christmas cards and get whatever coupons or gifts you are giving to clients ready. I like to have a basket full of signed and stuffed cards on the desk during the holiday rush, and by spending an hour or so every week on this I am able to have y cards signed and coupons cut out and inserted in the envelopes before Thanksgiving. You can buy a stamp that has your holiday message in it if you like and that will make it even faster. Because I bought all of my cards last year after Christmas I am ready to go and that is one less thing I have to worry about.
  9. Start pre-booking your clients holiday appointments now if you haven't already done it. It will help them out and you as well.
  10. If you are going to need extra help for the holidays, interviewing should b e finished by now and several days of trial runs and training should be going on before the rush actually begins. I recommend shops at least consider hiring a part time bather to help out at this time of year. You can do what I do, which is offer bath, fluff out and nails and have the new help trained to do them. Many clients who cannot get in for a groom can at least take advantage of having Fluffy clean and pretty for the holidays and the income will more than pay for the help hired. A part time groomer (if you can find one) is also fantastic to add on at this time of year. They can add to your income, make it possible for clients to get dogs done that otherwise would go undone and it helps out a person who just wants a small income. I have one hired for the season already and she is working two days a week now so she can get the feel for how the shop works.
  11. Take a weekend off and relax! It is critical that you stay fresh and alert during this time of year and taking a break ahead of time will help you stay awake and motivated during the rest of the season.

You will find that once some of the things are done in advance you can relax a bit and truly enjoy the grooming and the holiday spirit a bit more. By doing the things listed above you can assure yourself an easier holiday rush, in most cases. I cannot promise you it will all go smoothly, jut that the bumps will be less evident.




Cleaning ears in the tub

Hi, my name is Debi and I am an Ear Flusher. There. I said it. I feel so much better!

This is a controversial technique that raises eyebrows and hackles across the country. I do not want to stir up problems, but for over 10 years I have cleaned ears this way using a bathing system and it works very well and is perfectly safe. I have a small video clip of this technique being used on one of my dogs, Kraemer, my Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. He is the only dog I have that has chronic ear issues and this is the best and easiest way I know of to clean his ears. Using cotton balls or Q-tips pushes debris and gunk down into the ear canal and since cotton is fibrous it can be abrasive and as a result you can have "trauma" inflicted on an ear by excessive use of those items. I have seen ears that were already sore bleed after a vigorous cleaning (not by me) so I refuse to allow them in my shop. This is fast, safe, effective and the dogs usually love it.

First off, let me start out by saying that water in the ears does NOT cause infection. Bacteria or Viruses or Fungus causes infections. Water being present in the ear and not being dried out could possibly cause a yeast infection to breed, but NOT if it is not already there.

The canine ear is made in a manner which allows the outer portion of the ear to be cleaned really well using running water and yet no water is going to get down into the ear canal. When you lift the ear back to clean the ear the canal closes in most cases and water cannot get down in there. On some dogs, you cannot lift the ear back because it is already erect. However water in the ear is still not a problem. Because there is air trapped inside the ear canal, water will not be able to get into the ear canal and then to the ear drum, unless it is dribbled into the ear. Think about it. When you lay down in water fast, the water causes a vacuum to be formed, and the water releases when you stand up. When a dog shakes the water that does get into the ear canal will come out. If you are truly concerned about water in the ears you can use a drying agent after the rinse, but I find that a towel wipe and then getting the dog dry is perfect for drying ears. They do not hold water well and are dry as they can be before they go home.

I have had cockers for 25 years. The only one out of my cockers that have ever had ear problems was the one that we had groomed regularly when I was a child and my dad as well as the groomer always stuffed his ears with cotton balls and tried to keep water out of his ears. A famous vet one time on TV said "even a single drop of water can cause an infection". That was the thinking when I was younger. I started working at a vet clinic and the really gunky, nasty ears were flushed with a steady stream of water to remove debris, wax and dirt. I was pretty surprised at that until he explained to me that it doesn't cause problems and why it doesn't. The vet that owned the practice showed me how he wanted me to clean ears and it is the way I do them to this day.

When I was using ear cleaner and cotton balls and swabs I saw a huge rate of ear infections in my salon. Today, with this technique, I rarely see one. Maybe one dog in a hundred will present with an infection. This is a tremendous improvement over the rate before, which about 40%. My clients do not understand what the difference is but they are grateful. The pets are happy, and it is easier for us to clean ears this way.

When using a recirculator you have to know how it works. Dirt and oils get trapped by the surfactants in the shampoo and stored there. They act like a magnet holding onto a nail for dear life. They keep the dirt trapped, and even though the water appears dirty it is not allowing the dirt to redeposit on the dogs hair or skin. It is trapped. So when using the recirculator to clean ears there is no worry about dirty water. If you are not convinced, then simply wash the ears first before the rest of the dog is washed and you will be fine. I have a video clip and blog entry on using a recirculator coming up later in the week, so look for it if you want more information.

Back to ears.

Simply turn on your pump and wash the ears as you would any other part of the body using low pressure and a constant circular motion. The video clip shows the technique pretty well. The dogs tend to lean into the nozzle because it feels so good to them. If the ear has an excessive amount of debris present in the ear canal, I sometimes add some shampoo to the ear canal opening and massage it with my finger to loosen it up more. This is only needed when there is a "rock" of black stuff present or excessive amounts or ear medicine that must be cleaned away. Otherwise, treat the ear as if it was any other part of the body and watch the debris run out with the water as it flows out of the base of the ear and when you rinse whatever is left will come out as well.

As with any bathing, if the ear is dirtier than it should be wash longer. It is simple, fast and pain free. It is also helpful on red or irritated ears since there is no rubbing or pushing involved. You can clean sore ears, like Kraemer's right ear with no pain to the pet. Digging around in a sore ear with cotton is not a good idea and it hurts.

Of course there are times when using this technique is not recommended. If the ear drum is compromised, this is not a technique that is safe or warranted. The owner is likely to know there is an issue and will tell you. When in doubt, don't do it.

In case of severe infection, refer to a vet and do not clean the ear. They need to see the ear intact, as is, and I have also found that if you clean it too well the owner will think there is really nothing wrong and will not go to the vet like they will if you leave it goopy and smelly.

If you have a Prima type system, you can still use this technique. Open up the wand opening so it is on a fine mist setting and apply shampoo until the debris stops coming out. DO NOT force the tip into the ear and DO NOT use at high pressure. You can control the pressure of the water coming out of the nozzle b y not squeezing down as hard on the handle as you would for a body. It is all common sense. The dog will let you know if it is uncomfortable but I find that the washing action of the water and shampoo going in the ear and running 9out is soothing for most dogs and get the job done fast and easily.

This technique saves me a lot of time and energy as well as making ear cleaning more pleasant for the pets. If you are smart about it and use it wisely it can be a tremendous time saving technique for you shop. Remember, I have cockers and they have great ears. I have had one infection in Kermit and one in Elmo. Josie has never had one and Austin who lived to be 14 had two in his entire life. I keep their ears flushed and cleaned this way every time they get a bath. This technique works.

I hope this helped explain further the way I clean ears in my tub. Kraemer is grateful to be clean ad he was a great video subject! Even if I DID get soaking wet in the next series of clips, it was worth it.

I put this video clip at the bottom on purpose. It is an HD video and is wider than the window allows for inclusion in the blog post. I can click on it while it is playing and it will go to You Tube. If this does not work for you, I am also including a link directly to the video on You tube.

Happy Grooming!

Video Link