Finding Neutral Ground- Shaggy

This is the aptly named Shaggy.



Shaggy was fired from his long time groomer because she felt Shaggy had become dangerous. And I applaud her decision. As groomers, I think we sometimes forget that we can refuse service. Shaggy was beyond her control and she recognized it. Instead of performing a service poorly, this groomer chose to focus on her strengths.

One of my strong suits is turning around problem pets. The owner informed me that Shaggy was most problematic with his nails. He is arthritic and an all around grumpy old man.

First groom:

I decided to save Shaggy's nails for last in the hopes that I wouldn't start out the groom riling him up. He needed to be muzzled and fought the entire groom. It felt like Shaggy knew his nails were coming and was on heightened alert the entire time. I used very tasty treats and calming music to no avail with him.

Second groom:

Lets try the nails first and get them over with. That worked even less then the first groom. He was totally unreasonable afterwards and I was just plan tired. It took me longer to do his nails than the rest of the entire grooming  session.


Third groom:

I need help with the nails. I had Shaggy's owner help me with the nails in my mobile grooming van. Plan C wasn't working very well either.

I need to find some neutral ground with this dog. That's when it hit me. The original groomer was house call and was working inside the home on Shaggy's turf. The inside of my grooming van is my turf. Neither was neutral ground.

Fourth groom:

I instructed Shaggy's owner to wait outside the van and I would clip Shaggy's nails before he entered my van. And 

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Shaggy was wonderful (ish) for the rest of the groom. He is still a grumpy old man. 



It took four attempts to find a solution that worked within Shaggy's parameters. There is a fine line between not giving up and recognizing when you should. 







Louisiana GEAF Update



We are working hard to get to everyone who either needs assistance with the Louisiana Flood, or wants to donate for those in need. Because we are a 501c3 Charity, we have rules we must follow. Although anyone can donate to GEAF, our funds can only go to groomers affected by catastrophic events. We cannot help with rescue groups, replacing tires on a mobile or paying for pets veterinary care. That doesn't mean we don't empathize or sympathize. We just have very strict boundaries set by the IRS. Rules that we must abide by to keep our 501c3 status. Thank you for understanding.

In addition, we can only help those to the tune of what is in our coffers. An unlimited amount of money doesn't magically appear. It is generously donated by our suppliers, manufacturers, and groomers.


Now that we got that out of the way, what is going on to help those in need.

1. Go to our website and make a donation. There is a Donate button on every page.

2. Debbie Rowe of Frank Rowe and Son has made a beautiful quilt that is being raffled off. You can buy a ticket at Groom Expo or online


3. You can drop off gently used equipment to Frank Rowe and Son at Groom Expo or ship it directly to them at 26 South Union Street, Middletown, PA 17057

4. You can Groom One For Louisiana! Dedicate one groom between now and Sept 11 and send the amount of that groom to GEAF for Louisiana Groomers Relief. We welcome you to post pictures of your grooms to our Facebook page along with your shop name, location and donation amount. Use hashtag #pawsforlouisiana to tag your photos and your donation through PayPal-



5. Paws For Louisiana Dog Wash Sept 25, 2016 10-3. To participate in the dog wash, visit the Paws For Louisiana website.

6. Come to the Internet Mingle on Thursday, September 22nd from 7-9pm and buy lots of raffles tickets for all the goodies donated by our sponsors. Food will be provided by Evolution Shears, but you will have to buy your own booze. We need you all to drink $291 worth because thats the minimum set by the Hershey Hotel.

Any donation can be earmarked specifically for Louisiana. If not, it will go into our general fund.


Its That Time Of Year Again

 As the warmer weather is upon us, it is important to remember the how easy it is for a pet to suffer from heatstroke. None of us wants to injure or kill a pet in our care, so it is important to realize how this happens in the first place and make changes.


Let's start with why groomers don't notice when pets are in distress?

There are several possible reasons that come to mind:

1. The drying cages were out of their field of vision.

2. Not regularly checking on pets while they were drying because they were out of their field of vision. Time is relative. You may not think more than 5 minutes has passed, when in reality, its been at least a half hour. 

3. Can't see the pet was in distress because the pet was out of their field of vision.

Do we see the connection here? There was no one monitoring the pets while they were exposed to heat with little to no air circulation.

How do you make a change?

1. Rearrange the grooming room so that the drying cages are in your field of vision.

2. If that is not feasible, then station someone in the drying area to monitor.

3. Set an alarm for 10 minutes, and visually check on each pet.

4. Mobile groomers are not immune to this this just because they do not cage dry. They are metal cans that heat up very quickly in warmer weather. The best safety tool I have is a window temperature cling. It tells me how hot the interior is BEFORE I begin grooming. I know whether or not my A/C cab cool down the inside enough to work.

Notice that I did not suggest just using dryers with no heating elements. Drying a wet pet with cool air can result in hypothermia. You still need to monitor that pet.


What is heatstroke?


Heatstroke begins when the pets’ body temperature surpasses 104 degrees. The factors that set the stage for heatstroke is when the temperature in their environment (cage dryer) becomes higher than their body temperature with little or no air circulation (cage), high humidity (heavy panting) and close quarters (cage). The risk is much higher if groomers cover cages with towels to speed up drying. This is the exact same scenario when people leave their pets in a hot car to go shopping.

Signs of heatstroke include lethargy, heavy breathing and panting, bright red gums and tongue, vomiting and diarrhea. Heatstroke can cause shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, and heart abnormalities among other complications. Damage can become irreversible once their body temperature reaches 106 degrees. Death follows. It is imperative that the pet receives medical attention before their temperature reaches 106 degrees. The only way to prevent this is with constant monitoring of the drying area. Minutes can make the difference between the life, quality of life, and death.

Very young, very old, immune compromised, brachycephalic (dogs with pushed in faces), pregnant, and nursing dogs, as well as all cats are more susceptible to heatstroke.

What can be done if heatstroke occurs?

1. Remove the pet from the hot environment!

2. Lower the body temperature by wetting with cool water.

3. Do not use cold water or ice water. It is counterproductive. It will shock the system and cause a thermal barrier. The pet will be unable to cool itself.

4. Contact a veterinarian for instructions.

5. Transport to veterinarian as soon as possible.

This is a preventable accident. Drying cages are one of our tools. Use it responsibly. If you do not have someone to monitor the pets while drying, then table dry them. There is an empty home right now that needn’t be.



Is Your Insurance Covering What You Think It Is?

I've been following a couple of posts on Facebook from some very unhappy groomers following denied insurance claims.


They are unhappy because they did not have the coverage they thought they did.

We all get a large envelope with pages and pages of our coverage when we sign up and again when we renew our policies. All the experts recommend we read it, but it daunting and written in insuranese. My eyes start to glaze over when I make the attempt.

Instead, I contact my insurance specialist. An insurance specialist is NOT YOUR AGENT. An insurance specialist is your contact person within the insurance company itself, such as Travelers, Hartford, Nationwide, and so forth.

An insurance specialist can walk you through your policy as it appears in their files.

Bottom line is this.

You are only covered as it appears on their end. It doesn't matter what your agent says. If you are mobile and have different policies for vehicle and business, you need to speak with each insurance specialist.

Suggested questions to ask include (but not limited to):

  1. The details of the animal floater. Under what circumstances is this floater enacted. Many non-industry policies only include death, NOT injury. There will also be a dollar amount limit on each occurrence.
  2. The details of your business interruption policy. What are the exclusions? If you are mobile, does it cover when your vehicle is in the shop for a motor vehicle accident.
  3. What are your deductibles?
  4. Do you have full glass coverage? Thats both mobile and shop.
  5. Is there a limit of your equipment?
  6. For mobile groomers, is the full amount of the conversion accounted for?

This phone call will take about 20 minutes of your time and will save you an inordinate amount of grief in the event you make need to make a claim.

Grooming A Blind Dog

Meet Ghost.


He originated from a pet store. When this cute bundle of fur went blind shortly after arriving at the store the owner was going to put him down. After all, you cannot sell a blind dog. One of the employees convinced the owner to give her the dog. It was soon apparent, that in spite of her good intentions, it was beyond her capabilities to care for a dog that was exhibiting signs of distemper, ulcerated corneas, glaucoma, and giardia.

In stepped Kristin Edmond, Kaeley Blum, and Dr. Andrew Pickerstein of VCA Northside Animal Hospital In Danbury, CT. They adopted him, treated his medical conditions, and neutered him. All they wanted for Ghost was a good home. I met him when he was Po at VCA while bringing one of my other dogs in for a visit. We clicked immediately and a couple of weeks later he is snoozing next to me as I write this.

I have groomed many blind dogs over the years. I have owned blind dogs. What they all have in common was they went blind over time. They were used to my grooming van, the procedures, the noises, and where everything was located. Minor changes were needed. Ghost is my first dog that does not have a clue as to what to expect.

Dogs take life’s lemons and make lemonade. They adapt. Other senses begin to heighten to compensate for the loss of one. How does all this relate to grooming? I want to make Ghost’s experience with grooming a stress free, pleasant experience. Did I mention he is a Husky? There is lots of grooming in his future.

I’ll start with their enhanced hearing. It’s been interesting to watch Ghost chase after my golden retriever by listening to Ricky’s huffing and puffing as he runs.

While we hear in the 200 to 20,000 Hz range, dogs can hear up to 200,000 Hz. They are already more sensitive to music, throw in that enhanced hearing, and add agitating music. You now have an over stimulated dog, one that is more likely to bite. I play music softly in the background. Nothing jarring or loud. My personal favorite is Stephen Halpern’s Chakra Suite. It’s designed for meditation, and therefore very calming. I am also mindful of other background noises that I may have become accustomed to such as barking dogs and dryers. When drying Ghost, I use a Happy Hoodie to muffle the pitch of the high velocity dryer.

A typical dog has over 220 million olfactory receptors compared to our 5 million. Ghost is relying heavily on his increased sense of smell. That can be both a disadvantage as well as advantageous. Strong odors such as bleach, disinfectants, and cleaners may be overwhelming. I can this use this concept to Ghost’s advantage. I scent mark all the equipment, table edges, grooming arms, etc. with an essential oil. I choose an oil that is not common to the area. For me, it’s rosemary. Using an oil from the pine family would be confusing as pines and junipers surround my property. A little dab does the trick. He can use his sense of smell to “see” where everything is located. You can also place calming essential oils such as lavender in a diffuser or on cotton balls strategically placed around your facility. Do not put essential oils on plastics such as AC vents as it may cause damage.

Whether Ghost is in the tub or on the table, I am always touching him. Sometimes it’s with my shoulder if both hands are occupied. That consistent contact ensures that I do not startle him, and a startled dog is more likely to bite. If he is in a crate or I have not maintained the constant contact, I will use vibrations to warn him before I touch by rattling the cage door or tapping the grooming table with a brush. This is also good advice for deaf dogs.

To round out the experience I have rose quartz crystals in various places around my grooming van. Rose quartz is also known as the ‘Love Stone.” Crystals work on the Entrainment Principle. That’s where the Dominant Operating Resonance of one object affects the Lesser Operating Resonance of another. Remember the tuning fork experiment in grade school. The one where the teacher brought out about four or five tuning forks and made one of them vibrate. Shortly afterwards all the other tuning forks began to vibrate. The same principle applies for crystals. The stable Dominant Frequency of rose quartz helps to calm and support the Lesser Frequency of a stressed pet.

It is amazing to watch this blind puppy adjust and flourish and to see his spirit shine. He runs and chases my other dogs, goes up and down the stairs by himself, and knows when someone is in the kitchen (where the treats are). It took my husband and myself about three days to realize that Ghost was an inappropriate name for him. So, every body, meet Spirit.


You can read all about his journeys in Spirit's blog.


The article originally appeared in Groomer To Groomer magazine.

Time Saving Groomer Considerations

Here's the thing with any type of time saving tips: if you don't know where you are wasting time, tips will have a limited affect.Let's look at where time has not been optimized.

Start by figuring out how you spend your time. And the best way to do that is to keep track of everything you do. I do mean everything.Time your entire day and break it down into categories such as client interactions, bathing, preparations, cleaning, grooming, and paperwork.

"You can't manage what you can't measure."

Peter Drucker


Factors That Impact Time


1. How organized are your files and how much time do you spend updating?

2. Is your equipment in good repair and clean. Equipment is more efficient when it is taken care of?

3. Are you using the right shampoo/conditioner combination for each individual pets needs?

4. Are your grooming procedures consistent? Or are you forgetting to do something and have to get that pet back on the table.

5. Is anticipated equipment and products within reach?

6. How much time are you spending drying? Can you shorten it by cleaning the filters, replacing the brushes, or using the right dryer for the coat. 

7. Do you go to educational seminars to learn new techniques?

8. Do you find yourself rushing to get a pet done. Stop that! You are more likely to have an accident when you rush. 

9. Look at your schedule and how each pet determines the flow of the day. This is your business. Schedule it in a way that makes your day easier. 

10. How much time do you spend with each client? Is it a handoff along with pertinent information or are you socializing?

"Time is money. "

Benjamin Franklin


Imagine if you only managed to save 10 minutes on each pet you groomed. How much time is that over the course of day? Your choice to finish earlier or take in another pet. Either way, its beneficial to you!

Is Superglue™ The Same As Surgical Glue?



That would be no.


That includes Crazy Glue™, Loctite™, airplane model glue, and Elmer's™ glue as well as any other glue that is not specifically labeled surgical glue.

It is a myth that this type of non-surgical glue was discovered accidentally during WWII on a battlefield to address wounds. In 1942, it was an attempt to find a way to glue the plastic gun sights on rifles.

Non-surgical glues contain methanol. It is toxic to tissues. You are potentially adding a toxic substance directly into the blood stream. Surgical glues use medically safe bacteriostatic esters.

The other problem with any type of glue (surgical or non-surgical) is sealing in bacteria, which may result in abscesses, staph, or sepsis. There may also be damage to the cellular walls slowing healing.

Waivers and verbal OK's from clients may not stand up in court. A good lawyer will argue that the client was not duly informed of the dangers to their pet.

But don't take my word for it.

"Using surgical glue to close a wound is considered a medical procedure. Unless you are under the direct supervision of a veterinarian you are opening yourself up to legal action. - Dale Krier DVM Creature Comforts, Sherman, CT


"Superglue is not medically safe and you can introduce toxins into the body. Surgical glue used improperly may introduce bacteria and cause abscesses. Either way, you may cause serious life threatening injuries." -Kaely Blum VCA Northside Animal Hospital, Danbury, CT


Gluing injuries potentially can open up a huge cans of worms for your business. And you may want to check with your insurance company to see if you are covered for injuries resulting from what is considered "practicing veterinary medicine."


A better plan is to have a good relationship with an area veterinarian who could walk you through this medical procedure (direct supervision) in the event of a life threatening injury that you are too far from the nearest veterinary facility to make it in time with just wrapping the injury.





Client Information Card

This is my client information card. Feel free to copy it, but, of course, change my information to yours.






Home phone__________________________________________________________________________________

Cell Phone____________________________________________________________________________________

Preferred method of contact________________________________________________________________

Name                 Breed             Age       Medical Concerns

  1. ________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. ________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. ________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. ________________________________________________________________________________________

Can your pet have a treat? Yes     No

In the event of a heart attack, I authorize Mary Oquendo of Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC  (circle one) to perform not perform   CPR. I hold Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC harmless for these actions.

Signature and Date

In the event of a medical emergency and I can not be reached, I authorize Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC to bring my pet to the closest available veterinarian for treatment. I allow the veterinarian to treat my pet. I will be financially responsible unless Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC assume responsibility.

Signature and Date


In the event of inclement weather or natural disaster, Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC, is entrusted to use best judgment in caring for my pet and will not be held liable for consequences related to such decisions.

I also authorize Mary Oquendo and Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC to assume guardianship over the following pets in my household until which time I can safely take possession of my pets.


Name and breed of other pets

Signature and Date

Veterinarian and Phone Number

Do you wish to be added to a quarterly newsletter that will have seasonal and safety tips as well as an invitation to a free webinar?

Yes   No

Just How Many Clients Does A Mobile Groomer Need?

There is no magic number as many factors contribute to the overall formula.

To determine how many clients you need,start with how much you need to earn to meet your business expenses and live comfortably.Cost of living is different from one region to another, as well as are lifestyle choices.

As I do not have employees, my target is $2,000 a week based on a 48 week year.The area in which I live in I have noticed three different price points: $65,$75,and $85 an hour.

Per week based on one hour or less grooms 


$65 = 31 pets

$75 = 27 pets

$85 = 24 pets


Number of clients needed if on a 6-week schedule


$65 = 186 clients

$75 = 162 clients

$85 = 144 clients


Let's tweak that number for 4 vs 8 week clients:


$65   124 vs 248

$75   108 vs 216

$85    96 vs 192

You can see that there is a huge difference in the number of clients you need based on amount and frequency.

Being at the higher end allows me to work at a much easier pace with less stress on my body. Having clients commit to a more frequent schedule keeps the pets in more manageable coats reducing that wear and tear on me, as well as encourages a pleasant experience for the pets. While I live in one of the higher cost of living areas, the bulk of my clients are middle class working stiffs like myself.Many of which never used a grooming service before.