I have loved grooming dogs and cats for almost 30 years, but I still learn new things on a regular basis. That is one of the aspects of my job that brings me great satisfaction. Sometimes I am merely reminded of things that I have known but have, perhaps, forgotten. That was the case recently, and I thought I would share the lesson with you.
Here is the story. We have a long-time customer who can best be described as grumpy. I believe he is a good man, but when dealing with us he can be demanding, inflexible and terse. He dropped his dogs off last week at the same time that a sweet, effervescent, happy, friendly,customer was dropping off her brand new, just-adopted-from-the-shelter mixed breed pup. I went out to meet her new dog, and I made a fuss over it. The new rescue was adorable, and I am always so happy when a dog comes in that has been adopted from the shelter. I was also happy because the customer had previously told me how excited she was to add a new dog to her home.
Later in the day when "Mr. Terse" came in to pick his dogs up, he looked me in the eye and said, "You never squeal over my dogs." I was confused and asked him what he meant. "You squealed over that dog that came in when I brought my dogs in. You never do that over my dogs." I explained to him that the dog in question had just been adopted, and he smiled a little and nodded as if he understood, but you know, he was right. I never do make a fuss over his dogs. It honestly never occurred to me that it might be important to him to have me do so. But in reality, no matter how tricky this man can sometimes be to deal with, I know he adores his dogs and that they are very important to him. He takes wonderful care of them, and they are very good dogs.
My lesson, re-taught, is that even people who might be difficult love their pets. And they are pleased when it is obvious that we care about their pets, too. I was reminded of the importance of the human-animal bond, and how much it would mean to me, if I were in a similar position, to feel that the person I am entrusting my pet to actually cared about my dog or cat.
In truth, I do care about all the animals I am privileged to groom. It is also true that I don't always take time to show the way I feel. I plan to change that, starting this week.
This isn't the first lesson a customer has taught me, and it wont be the last. It is a good lesson though, one I hope you find helpful as well.