When education meets intuition...

Sometimes I get a lot more credit than I deserve. A few weeks ago a favorite customer called to see if I would show groom her young Scottish Deerhound.  I don't know about you, but I rarely see the breed, and a show groom? I was clueless.  "I want to bring her to the best, " my customer said.  I've groomed her small breed dogs for years, and she has a lot of faith in my skills.  I was glad someone did. 

I knew enough about the breed to know that "less is more" for presenting in the show ring. Their coarse coat is shown in a very natural state.  A good bath, some Show Seasons Results Rinse, a blow dry and brushing would make her look pretty darn good.  Beyond that, I needed help. I looked on line, haunted some Deerhound sites to read up on tips, and posted on a grooming FB page asking if anyone had first hand knowledge. In moments a leading industry goddess answered me with some good tips.  This is one of the many things I love about the grooming industry.  Those who know are almost always willing to share with those of us who don't.  

I used my wonderful Andis shedding tool to remove a little dead coat, concentrating on her shoulders to accentuate her muscle and show her nice conformation, also to de-bulk some thick coat.  I took off a little more on her rear to show off angulation.  Then I stood back, and plucked some under her tuck up where it was looking straggly.  I lightly trimmed her feet while I was at it. I trimmed and Dremmeled her nails to make them neat and smooth. Her owner was watching, and she was happy.  But I wasn't. Her head looked a mess.  "May I tidy up her bangs a bit?" The hair was swooping over her left eye like a '50's film actress.  Her owner agreed.  We both liked the look.  Her cheeks were awfully full, though.  "I think her head would look more shapely if we took some of this off," I said. I didn't really know, but I was letting intuition guide me. "Go for it," she told me. I did. Then we plucked the long hairs off of her ears and tidied the edges with thinning shears. All of a sudden she looked more elegant than unkempt. And that is where we stopped. 

I forgot to take pictures like a dummy, but here is a pretty shot I snagged off the 'net of a pretty dog that looks a good bit like her.



Imagine my delight when I got the message, "Yesterday and today, first in class.  Reserve winners yesterday, winners today."  


A beautiful dog graced my table.  With skill from years of grooming other breeds, and a little home work, I was able to help her show off to her full potential.  I love it intuition meets education.  




Answered question...

A newer groomer recently emailed me and said, "I am having a really hard time with these dogs that have small eyes and long eyelashes - I understand that we want to save the eye lashes but I do not seem to get enough hair off to see their eyes or have their eyes pop.  Their eyes always seem so hooded and hairy." I thought the topic was a good one for a blog post, so here are my thoughts on the matter. 

First let me address the eyelash part of her mail.  Not all owners are into having dogs with long eye lashes. But some are, and it can be very tricky to avoid cutting lashes when you are working on the pets face.  In some cases those super long lashes are really impressive.  Like on this girl: 


I took a few pictures of a new puppy yesterday to show you how I groom fuzzy faces.  This is Ollie. His mom is a mini poodle, his dad a small standard.  At first his owner thought she wanted a traditional shaved face and topknot, but then she decided she liked him looking like a teddy bear. I thought this was a good choice because he is big boned. In this picture he has been washed and dried. 


The first thing I did was comb the hair on the front of his skull forward a bit. Then, using 7 inch curved shears I carefully wacked a bunch of that stuff off. 

IMG_8675Once I had some hair removed and could see what I was doing,  checked to see if he happened to have pretty eyelashes.  Since he is a baby, his lashes are still short, but for purposes of this blog, I proceeded to save them.   IMG_8687I learned this trick on line a few years ago, and sorely wish I remember the brilliant soul that shared it.  Simply moisten your fingertips with water, and gently grasp the lashes between finger and thumb. Now, gingerly twist them, just a bit, so they clump together. The water will make them a bit darker, so they are easier to see, and will hold them in place for a few seconds so you have time to trim around the eyes.  

IMG_8693Once the lashes are safely out of the way and in clear view, you can use your scissors (and you may choose smaller ones than this) to trim a neat, close line, right over each eyelid. When you do this, the eyelashes will look more defined, and not blend in with other facial hair so much.  I use a trimmer to clean out the eye corners and the area between the eyes on the bridge of the nose. Ollie, experiencing his first groom, wiggled big and I made this space too large, but he still looked cute.  One thing about dog grooming, if you make an "oops" the hair grows back and you can fix the error next time around. 


IMG_8702Once I have the hair around the eyes cleaned up, I use chunkers, thinners or regular scissors to shape the face the way I want. In this case, since he didn't have a ton of coat to begin with, I  merely shortened his ears, and used curved scissors to tidy up his beard and shape his cheeks, blending into the top of the head.  His body was done with the longest Wahl snap on comb.  I didn't get the greatest "after" picture, but he looked cute, plush, and well balanced. His owners with tickled pink and rebooked an appointment for 6 weeks.  (The hair over his left eye is too full. I did shape that up before he went home. His owners arrived a bit early and my chance for further photos was nixed. Ollie turned into a blur of happy puppy energy.)

I hope this is a bit helpful to those of you who might struggle with grooming heads like this.  Happy clipping!