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September 2020

Ergonomics And The Pet Professional

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One of the best professional decisions I made was to take care of my body. My husband has chronic medical conditions and we most certainly didn’t need both of us with broken down bodies. Grooming is a very physical job, but there are ways to us healthy and working for as long as we want to.  It is be far easier to maintain good health than trying to repair decades of damage later on.  Though, it’s never too late to start taking better care of ourselves.  I want to enjoy my golden years and maybe do some zip-lining.

But it starts with ergonomics.

Ergonomics is defined as the study of work. It is the science of adapting a job to fit the worker. Its purpose is to reduce or eliminate musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).  

Musculoskeletal disorder affects the parts of the body responsible for movement such as: muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, vertebrae, blood vessels, and bones.

A short list of examples of MSD’s include:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Epicondylitis
  • DeQuervain’s Syndrome
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Digital Neuritis
  • Herniated Disc
  • Ligament/Muscle/Tendon Strain
  • Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Trigger Finger/Thumb
  • Ruptured Disc

According to the Bureau of Labor- Musculoskeletal disorders are responsible for close to 30% of all workers’ compensation costs with an average price tag of about $15,000.

Musculoskeletal disorders begin when the muscles in the affected area become fatigued and are not allowed sufficient time to recover. Over time, when this fatigue/non-recovery time cycle is repeated, a disorder develops.

There are work related risk factors, as well as individual risk factors. Both contribute to the threat of musculoskeletal disorders.

Let’s start with individual responsibility.

 

It’s poor overall health habits that are the culprit. They include, but most certainly not limited to, along with possible solutions:

  • Not only does smoking contribute to MSD’s, but to a host of many chronic medical conditions. Quit smoking. There are many options to help you quit today that were not in place 30 years ago when I kicked the habit.
  • Excessive alcoholic drinking taxes the liver making it harder for your body to process those foods that cause inflammation. Reduce the amount of alcohol you consume on a regular basis and drink a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks. Alcohol is a diuretic and water helps to prevent dehydration.
  • Inadequate sleep disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, which causes hormonal imbalances. This, in turn, affects the function of your organs and their ability to do their job. Going to bed at the same time every night, as well as turning off all electronics at least one hour beforehand, may improve your sleep patterns.
  • Diets high in sugar, caffeine, saturated and trans fats, omega 6 oils, refined carbohydrates, MSG, gluten and casein, and artificial sugars increase inflammation throughout the body. Eliminating or reducing these types of food will reduce inflammation that may cause pain.
  • Dehydration damages organs. The basic rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces throughout the day.
  • Physically unfit. Regular exercise strengthens your muscles, which reduces the required recovery time from work fatigue.
  • Carrying extra weight puts a burden on the entire musculoskeletal system.

There are five primary work related risk behaviors.

 

  • Highly repetitive tasks. This would include scissoring, brushing, combing, drying, and clipping. To minimize the fatigue caused by these actions take breaks as well as properly fit tools for your body type. In addition, learn how to use the tool in the manner for which it was designed. This is one of the reasons I love to go to trade shows. I can try out equipment, see how it fits and feels in my hands and the manufacturer representatives are on hand to demonstrate their proper usage.
  • Forceful exertions. Improperly lifting heavy dogs or moving heavy equipment can cause damage to your musculoskeletal system. Install ramps, use electric tables, and/or request help from a co-worker.
  • Awkward postures. This includes working at incorrect heights. Adjust tables to a comfortable working height, as well as add grates to tubs to raise smaller pets so as to not consistently bend over. In addition, instead of bending around the pet to work on them, raise or lower the table or walk around to the other side of the pet.
  • Vibrating tools. On the basis of a 1983 National Occupational Exposure Survey, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has linked the use of vibrating tools to Raynaud’s disease. As a profession, we need to use clippers. However, we can test clippers at trade shows before buying to feel the vibration, talk to the manufacturers representatives about the vibrational levels of a particular clipper, as well as take breaks while using clippers.
  • Sustained postures. Sustained is standing or sitting in one position for any length of time. Change up your positions instead by alternating between standing and sitting. In addition, adding floor mats will reduce stress on your body. Look for restaurant grade mats. They tend to be more expensive. However, they will last longer and are far more effective than their inexpensive counterparts. Quality shoes can also reduce stress on your body if they are fitted for your foot type. Your foot arch should determine the type of shoe best suited for you. There are three types of arches: neutral, low (flat feet), and high. Stores that specialize in walking or athletic shoes tend to have more knowledgeable sales staff regarding the right shoes for you.

The earlier you begin to make changes in your personal lifestyle, as well as in work habits, the easier it is to mitigate or even reverse the damage that has been caused by years of neglect. Come join me on that zip line!

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader. If you are looking for your business to thrive instead of surviving, set up a free Am I A Good Fit For Your Business consultation, visit www.MaryOquendo.com.

Or drop me a message or email her at Mary@PawsitivelyPretty.com


My Thoughts On Cat Muzzles And Why

My Thoughts On Cat Muzzles

My Choice On Cat Muzzles And Why

Or why not. I’m going to start with the why not’s.

  1. Full face covered mask. First off, I’ve been bit through it, so I find it useless. The theory behind it is taking away one of their senses (eyesight) will calm them down. And yes, that may be true, however, these masks also flatten the whiskers against their faces. A cat’s whiskers called vibrissae, are a sensory tool that helps a catsee in the dark, as well as to judge openings to see if they’ll fit though. Whiskers are highly sensitive tactile hairs that grow on their muzzle, above its eyes, on the ears and forelegs. This muzzle is always in contact with the whiskers, causing this pet to be in a state of sensory overload. The fact this muzzle covers their eyes is negated by the fact that the whiskers are overstimulated. In addition, the tell tales signs of stress are not visible to me anymore. I can’t see if the eyes are dilated, or hear their breathing, or see if they’re drooling.
  2. Full air muzzle, AKA hamster ball. While this is an effective muzzle, there are 2 reasons I dislike it. The first is that the neck bones of a cat are very fragile. For most cats, it’s simply too heavy. The other reason is that the whiskers often touch the inside of the muzzle causing over stimulation.

So what do I like?

  1. Elizabethan collar, AKA the lampshade. Keeps the teeth away from you and is very lightweight.
  2. Half air muzzle. Again lightweight and doesn’t inhibit the whiskers.
  3. Happy Hoodie. It should be snug, pulled up past the mouth, but the whiskers are on the outside of it. And yes, this cat can still bite, but when used properly, the cat has to bite through 2 layers of the happy hoodie. I used this paired with frisk gloves. Frisk gloves are used by the police when they are frisking suspects. The gloves protect the police against hypothermic needles injuries.

To prevent scratches, I wear a sweatshirt to protect my arms and the frisk gloves protect my hands. The bite buster sleeve is another option, but it gives me a rash.

I loved cat grooming, and is probably the only thing that would entice me back to grooming.

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader. If you are looking for your business to thrive instead of surviving, set up a free Am I A Good Fit For Your Business consultation, visit www.MaryOquendo.com.

Or drop me a message or email her at Mary@PawsitivelyPretty.com


Grief And The Pet Professional

Grief And The Pet Professional

One of the hardest things about owning pets is their much shorter life span. There are very real medical and emotional effects when someone loses a beloved pet. But as pet professionals, we can become as bonded to a client’s pet as the owner is. We can grieve for that lost pet.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross describes five stages of grief in her book “On Death and Dying.”

 

  1. Denial- This is not happening. This is really NOT happening.
  2. Anger- This is not fair. I take good care of my pets.
  3. Bargaining- I can fix this. Just give me some time.
  4. Depression- This is not a mistake. I cannot fix this. I am going to lose him.
  5. Acceptance- There is nothing I can do but work through my grief.

Though many grief counselors add two more.

  1. Shock- You feel nothing but disbelief. It may be like a full-body numbness.
  2. Guilt- Somehow it is your fault. Why did I not see the signs earlier? Maybe if I had, I could have saved him.

Grief can manifest in many ways.

  1. Physically- This includes crying, shock, lump in throat, lack of energy, disturbing dreams, insomnia, lack of hunger or overeating, body aches, dizziness, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. Do not quickly disregard the last two as just grief as they are also indications of a heart attack.
  2. Emotionally- There may be confusion, preoccupation with loss, hallucinations, sadness, resentment, guilt, and anxiety.
  3. Socially- A person may either withdraw or become too dependent on their friends. In addition, they may distract themselves with extra work.
  4. Spiritually- It may weaken or strengthen spiritual beliefs or move them towards a radically different belief system.

Everyone works through the stages in their own time. There are instances in which someone seems trapped and cannot work through their grief.

Warning Signs

 

  1. Thoughts of suicide- While grieving it is normal to have FLEETING thoughts of suicide. If these thoughts persist, tell someone.
  2. Panic attacks. They come on suddenly with no discernible pattern.
  3. Depression- Depression and grief are different behaviors. Grief does mimic some symptoms of clinical depression. While grief can run its course without intervention, depression cannot. Sigmund Freud summed it up, as, “In grief, the world looks poor and empty. In depression, the person feels poor and empty.”

The healing process can be hindered by such factors as the circumstances surrounding the death, no previous experience with a loss, insensitive comments, or multiple losses. A support system is critical in order for grief to run its course.

Support Networks

 

  1. Supportive family and friends- Avoid those that minimize your feelings towards your loss because “it’s just a pet.”
  2. Grief counselors- There are grief counselors that specialize in pet bereavement.
  3. Animal communicators- Exercise caution because there are some that will prey on your vulnerability.
  4. Online support- Online resources are valuable especially if your in-person support is not available. Many online organizations provide free or low cost grief counseling, as well as assistance in locating local in person counselors. In addition, they will offer virtual candle lighting and chat rooms with other people experiencing a loss. Most of these organizations support their websites with online shops selling personalized memorabilia. A listing of current online resources is found at tufts.edu/vet/petloss/links.html.

 

What can you do for friends that have lost a pet?

 

  1. Listen to them- Let them talk. You do not have to say anything. It allows them to start moving through the stages.
  2. Send a card- It is something tangible that can be read over and over again.
  3. Send a copy of the Rainbow Bridge poem- Many of the online organizations will send a personalized copy to their home or email.
  4. Make a donation in their pet’s name- Your local animal shelter as well as national breed rescues will put that money to good use.
  5. Send or bring a personalized gift- Something as simple as a rose quartz heart.
  6. Pay attention to the warning signs of suicide- It may save their life.

The loss of a pet can cause grieving as intense as the loss of a human. Do not discount feelings, as “It’s just a pet.” Pets are beloved companions. Even if they are not “ours,” the pain of the loss can as great. Seek help if necessary.

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader. If you are looking for your business to thrive instead of surviving, set up a free Am I A Good Fit For Your Business consultation, visit www.MaryOquendo.com.

Or drop me a message or email her at Mary@PawsitivelyPretty.com


When A One Star Yelp Review Is Worth Its Weight In Gold

When A One Star Yelp Review Is Worth It's Weight In Gold

This review was posted months before I even noticed it. It's not like the calls originating from Yelp just stopped.

I was sitting at the kitchen table of one of my clients. I was writing down the grooming notes for her dog and recommending some of the area groomers for her to call as I was retiring and trying to find my replacement for her. As I was grabbing phone numbers and addresses off the internet, I noticed one the search results brought up my business with a 3-star Yelp rating.

I'm like excuse me. 3 stars, I don't think so. And I pulled the review up.

He did get the tired right. That’s about it. I only answered so that I wouldn’t have to return the call. I had just finished up all my regular clients for the holidays and was taking a well-deserved breather. He was under the impression that if you're open, you have availability.

I could flag the review and argue with Yelp that according to their rules all reviews have to be based on service rendered. But why bother. This review will weed out bad clients. The ones that just noticed their dog smells and needs grooming RIGHT NOW! The ones that only notice their pets need care when company is coming over.

I have never in the 20 years I've been grooming ever gotten a regular client from a last second holiday, I'm doing you a solid squeeze-in. In fact, those clients seem to be more unrealistic and demanding than my regulars. If someone reads that and thinks I'm unreasonable and opts to find another groomer, I dodged a bullet. I wish there was a way to track that so I could send a thank you note to Jon.


The point being that there are people whose mission in life is to pass judgement on others. Jon has 77 reviews. Most look like he’s fishing for a free meal from a restaurant. If someone has a legitimate complaint or posts something untrue, you should respond professionally.  This is an awesome FB group that can help you word your response in that professional manner: https://www.facebook.com/groups/776113669400652/.

As I was weeks away from retirement, I didn’t bother with this one.

Mary is a business, wellness, and safety strategist who specializes in the pet industry. She has contributed to the professional pet industry as a consultant, speaker, writer, and progressive leader. If you are looking for your business to thrive instead of surviving, set up a free Am I A Good Fit For Your Business consultation, visit www.MaryOquendo.com.

Or drop me a message or email her at Mary@PawsitivelyPretty.com