Wesley And The Snake


Wesley was always one of my favorite golden retriever’s, as he loved to take a bath. Whenever I arrived, I would have to step back after opening the door so I wouldn’t get knocked to the ground when Wesley rushed into the van.

One day after I finished Wesley and gave him his treat, I waited in their kitchen for mom to pay me. Wesley settled down a couple of feet away from their kitchen table. A minute later, Wesley picked up his treat and went into the living room with it.

I was still waiting when the 10 year-old son walks past me, sighs very heavily, and calls out to his dad. “Dad, there’s another snake in the kitchen. “ And then just continues walking away.

I’m standing there frozen in place in the kitchen with the snake. I left my glasses in the van, so I’m blind as well. I don’t dare move because there’s A SNAKE IN THE KITCHEN and I don’t know where it is. All I’m thinking is the kid said another, so this is something that happens on a regular basis and that bum Wesley, took his treat and abandoned me with the snake in the kitchen.

I got up the courage to look at the kitchen table as I suspected that Wesley was no fool and had no plans to share his treat with a snake. And there it was, not 5 feet from me. Just curled up being a snake.

Dad comes running over with a bucket, scoops up the snake, tells me the cats keep bringing them into the house and not to tell his wife.

Three months later they moved about 500 miles away. Which sounds like how I would react to finding a snake in my house. While I would miss the traitorous Wesley, I wouldn’t have to worry about standing next to snakes in their kitchen anymore.

That’s not the end of the story. About a year later, a current client bought the house from the person Wesley’s family sold it to.

They also moved about two years later.

Winter Safety Tips 2016


It's that time of year again. 

Car Safety

Watch for antifreeze leaks. Its sweet taste attracts dogs and cats, very poisonous, and the bright green color is a DEAD giveaway. It cleans up easily with soap and water.

Outdoor cats looking for warmth frequently sleep on car engines. Banging loudly on the hood before starting your engine should rouse them.

Leaving your pet in your car while you shop at the mall is like leaving them in a refrigerator. The car retains the cold and your pet could suffer from hypothermia. A great way to gauge the interior temperature of your vehicle is with a thermometer window cling. It tells you what the interior temperature of your vehicle is.  On the flip side, you do not want to leave them in the car with the engine idling, as it is easy enough for an excited dog to move the gear shift from park to drive or reverse.

The Great Outdoors

Animals that spend a lot of time outside need more food. In particular, a higher protein diet is required.

The very young and the very old have little tolerance for the cold weather. Provide them with outerwear for both body and feet.

According to the ASPCA, more dogs are lost during snowstorms than at any other time. They can lose their scent, become disoriented and lost. Remember, a well-identified dog has a greater chance of returning home.

Use pet safe ice melt. When that is not possible, or you are unsure of what is being used; wash their feet BEFORE they get a chance to lick them.


Insects will be coming into our homes for the winter. Watch for spider and insect bites and familiarize yourself with the signs of anaphylactic shock. Insect traps are baited with something tasty, so keep them out of your pet's reach.


The Holiday Season is in full swing.



The most common holiday plant is the poinsettia. It is toxic. Keep it out of reach of your pets. Both Pet Poison Helpline (www.petpoisonhelpline.com) and the ASPCA (www.aspca.org) has a database of toxic plants and phone apps.

Chewing on electrical cords can cause cardiac arrest. Tripping on electrical cords can cause broken body parts and sudden blunt force trauma. (OK, maybe more of an issue for me.) Dogs chasing after something have been known to be dragging a Christmas tree behind them after a cord was snagged on a paw.

Glass ornaments pose a problem for those pets that confuse them with tennis balls.

Garland and tinsel is a particular problem for cats. Remember; never pull it out of your cat, as there may be an ornament hook at the other end.

Pine water is poisonous to pets. Fertilizers and pesticides will leach out into the water bowl.

Holiday Food and Drinks

Alcoholic beverages can cause intoxication, coma and death.

Coffee, tea and other caffeine products contain theobromine. It is toxic and affects the cardio and nervous systems.

Ham, fat trimmings and turkey skin can cause pancreatitis.

Cooked bones can cause intestinal obstruction and lacerations of the digestive system.

 Stuffings may contain sage, onions, mushrooms and raisins.

Too many sweets can cause obesity and diabetes. Artificial sugars cause a fatal drop in blood sugar, especially xylitol.

Holiday snack trays may contain macadamia nuts and grapes.

Chocolate contains theobromine.

A list of the most common people foods that cause problems for pets is found at both Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA’s website.

TIP: Broccoli can cause digestive upset and VERY gassy pets. You may want to keep that to a minimum unless you want your guests running for cover. Of course, if your guests have overstayed their welcome, then broccoli is the way to go.

You also want to provide your pets with a quiet place during the holiday parties. Even small gatherings can be stressful for them.

Cold Injuries

Cold injuries are caused by extreme or prolonged exposure to low temperatures. The most common areas affected are the tail, ears, paws and scrotum. A snout to tail assessment is always a good idea after coming in from the outdoors. Check for ice and salt in the pads and for any signs of frostbite or hypothermia.

The skin can become swollen, red and very painful. In later stages, it can become hard and pale. Additional signs of frostbite and hypothermia include shivering, slow or shallow breathing, lethargy, decreased heart rate and gums either pale or bluish in color.

If you suspect frostbite or hypothermia, you should first make sure the pet is out of the cold. DO NOT RUB THE AFFECTED AREA. The frozen ice crystals in the skin can lacerate the skin cells. Contact your vet for rewarming instructions. This is very important so that you can prevent further pain, stave off infection and minimize the possible tissue damage.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday season.

©Mary Oquendo www.maryoquendo.com

Swat Team Vs. Groomer

I was working at a corporate store and we had just lost our store manager.

He quit. Imagine that. The store was having a hard time replacing him. And as a result they kept revolving other store managers to cover my store.

Every single day the store alarms would go off. 

Every Single Day. 

Apparently upper management didn't trust their own managers and would change the alarm codes on a daily basis. It was a running joke between the stores. 

One morning, the store manager du jour and myself were chit chatting while he tried several different codes to shut off the alarm when the phone rang.

I picked it up and the voice at the other end said: "This is the Brookfield Police Department, please exit the building."

I thought it was a joke. Many of the groomers in other shops were fully aware of what was going on and it was not usual for us to play jokes on each other. 

I told the store manager what the caller had said.

So, we both giggled and raised our arms as if we were being held up.

The next thing we know, 6 police cars come flying into the parking lot, there are cops outside the building with guns drawn, and one of them has a bullhorn. I would not have been surprised if the swat team came rappelling down the side of the building.


©depositphotos, londondeposit

Needless to say, they were not amused with us. They let us know they were not amused, but didn't feel like doing the paperwork involved with hauling our butts down to the station. And as Brookfield is a pretty quiet town, they had bragging rights amongst the other small town area cops. After, we profusely begged forgiveness, they went on their merry way. 

On a positive note, corporate stopped changing the store alarm code. 





Maximum Schnauzer

My name is Mac Beth and contrary to popular opinion, I am not a miniature schnauzer. I am maximum schnauzer. That’s right, I am ALL schnauzer.

Miniature my ass.



©DepositPhotos, FotoJagodka

I understand that my nemesis, the groomer, is coming today. Oh, they use code words like “Mary” and “Thank God”, but I know what she really is. She rings the bell and is all kissy and “how’s my boy”, but as soon as I am in her mobile grooming van, the instruments of torture come out. The comb. The brush. The shampoo.

Well, I’m ready for her!

9:00 am rolls around and I hear the van. Time for my game face. Nuts, its just some kids. I’ll leave my game face on in case they want to touch me.

9:15 am and I hear the van. Now, I’m really pissed. Boy, she’s going to get what for. Stupid kids touching me. Oh no! More kids. I’m going upstairs.

9:30 am and again I hear the van. About time. Some nerve keeping me waiting. Are you kidding me? More kids and is that THE GIRL??!! Oh no, Oh no, she puts makeup and clothes on me like I’m some sort of doll. Hide! Hide! Hide!

9:45 am and I hear the van. Please be the groomer, please be the groomer, please be the groomer. Yay! It’s mary. Everybody out of my way. Can’t you see the groomer is here. Later for you.

*Groomers note- This was the only time Mac Beth jumped in my arms, gave me a kiss, and was a good boy the entire time.

Holistic Pet Grooming

WooHoo! The book is finally available!



The book is 138 pages divided into 10 chapters.


Chapter 1

It begins with you. 


Chapter 2

Making positive changes to your work space.


Chapter 3

 All about the animals.



Chapter 4

Introducing your clients to a new way of doing things.


Chapter 5

Equipment and Tools


Chapter 6

Products including some recipes courtesy of Chris Pearson.


Chapter 7

The business side of things.


Chapter 8

 Marketing a holistic grooming service. 


Chapter 9

Emergency and disaster planning.


Chapter 10

Supporting service providers


To but this awesome book for only $20, visit Frank Rowe and Son or Barkleigh.

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- GEAF2013@aol.com.



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.