I have been in the pet industry for over 15 years. In that time, I have been honored professionally by the pet industry as well as, personally by my fabulous clients. Any recognition I have previously enjoyed pales in comparison to Lemon’s first groom.
What makes Lemon’s first groom so special?
Lemon’s owner is the daughter of one of my long-term clients who traveled over five hours so I could give Lemon his first groom. Alicia knew that Lemon needed regular grooming and wanted to make sure it was a pleasant first experience for him, as it could set the tone for the future.
When I arrived at her mother’s home, I asked that she and Lemon come join me in the grooming van. I want her to see what a grooming entails, as well as educate on owner responsibility, and correct any misinformation about his needs. We let Lemon explore a little bit while we chit chatted. This exploration gives Lemon an opportunity to become familiar with his environment. I have soothing music playing very softly in the background.
After a couple of minutes, I placed Lemon on the table and went over what to expect from this groom. During the explanation, I keep my hands on Lemon and pet him. I make sure she understands that I will go at his pace and it will not be a perfect groom. The expectation of the first groom is simply to familiarize Lemon with the process. Alicia’s one rule is she cannot stop the groom or become flustered. It sends the wrong message to the puppy. This is happy time, I don't want Lemon to make the connection that this is something to be scared about.
I demonstrate how to comb and brush, cut nails, and clean ears within the confines of his normal body range of motion. I suggested equipment, as well as the benefits of quality versus cheap products. Since I don’t sell equipment, I emailed her links to reputable online sources. We discussed what clip she envisioned on Lemon and suggested several grooming schedules that should work for her based on the amount of time she wanted to spend in between.
Whenever Lemon became anxious, I stop and pet him while continuing talking to his owner. I offer owner approved treats, but Lemon isn’t interested.
So far, he is a champ.
Into the tub he goes. I am grateful for my Sav-Ur-Fur nozzle because I can put it on soaker rather than the spray setting for the recirculator. If I didn’t have one, his first bath would be by hand. His face, however, is washed by hand. Since she plans on bathing in between grooms, I go over eye care with her and suggest shampoos and conditioners.
After his bath, I put him back on the table and put a Happy Hoodie over his head. The Happy Hoodie will protect his ears, wick out water from his head, and act as a calming agent. I take the nozzle off my high velocity dryer and Lemon is fluffed dried.
It’s now time for the finish work.
Lemon is brushed out and combed. I let him sniff the clipper and run it over his body while it is OFF. I turn it on and start the clipper work. Lemon has just about had it for the day. A couple of passes with the clipper and he has had enough. It is not a complete job. But we finished on a pleasant note.
Once we were done, he eagerly took treats from me. If Lemon had continued as my client, I would have worked with him to accept to the clipper.
It sounds like I have spent hours on Lemon hasn’t it. His groom took one hour from start to finish. It is why I don’t discount puppy grooms. The time and gentleness allocated now will result in saved time and ease in the future.