A tip for newer groomers:
If you're combing or brushing on a dog's hair and you're pulling at it when you hit a snarl or matting, etc., aside from the damage you're likely doing to the hair, you're also possibly damaging every layer of the skin and also the connective tissue over the muscle which lies beneath the skin.
If you feel a "pop" or a "crack" come from the skin while you're tugging, you're pulling *way* too hard.
I saw on a message board someone mentioned this and I know they just didn't realize what they were doing, but this can be very serious and such an injury is easily avoidable.
Underneath the final layer of muscle there is an layer of tissue called the epimysium and then a thin layer of "fat", nerves and fine capillaries,etc.
Beneath that there is a very thin fascial membrane layer. Beneath that there is bone. If you're a meat eater then you know what the fascia looks like already. It lays in between each bundle of muscle and is translucent and color often giving off a prism effect when viewed under direct light. You will also see multiple layers of this type of tissue occurring around joints, ligaments and tendons in weight-bearing areas, and working as connective tissue.
When groomers tug too hard on matted ears and cause swelling of the ears, edema, or bleeding around the edges of the ears, that's exactly the same thing that happens.
In the photo below you can see just how many veins and capillaries run through that the ear leather of the dog. It's easy to see why extremities such as this bleed so badly when they are cut.
A hematoma and petechial hemorrhaging is what usually develops in the case of hearing that "pop' or 'crack" sound when you're pulling too hard with your tools. It's basically a forceful separation between the fascia and the cartilage layers of the ear which fills with fluid and blood. This is similar to a blood blister. This can happen from pulling on an ear too hard and causing breakage of the cartilage or can happen when the pet shakes its head excessively as well.
The matting around the edges of an ear will slowly pull the skin beneath it tight to where it's not receiving normal blood circulation and even nerve damage can happen.
When you cut back the matted hair, there is a sudden resurgence of blood circulation to the fine capillaries. This causes a tingling, itching or burning, which in turn will often cause the dog to shake its head.
This is when the fascia damage occurs, and when that separation between the layers of tissue is made, it fills with fluid. These hematomas or fluid filled sacks rarely will go down on their own if large enough; they usually have to have a needle aspiration done in order to remove the fluid and sometimes that has to be done repeatedly.
To help lessen the chance of developing a hematoma on a matted ear:
Warn the owner ahead of time that you have found the mats and they must be removed carefully in order to not damage the ear. Let them know that brushing them out if they're too tight is not an option. I have found with some owners if I part the hair and show them the mat, and even actually have them feel it, their buy-in comes quite easily. You may also at this time want them to sign a matted pet release form.
I recommend removing the matting of the ears first, so that you have as much time as possible with the dog in the salon to see what their response will be.
Carefully lay the ear flat in your hand and clip with a shorter blade outward towards the edge of the year in a fanning pattern so that you're working from the center of the ear outward towards the edge and never along it.
You can choose as needed to completely clip down the ear into a lamb style, or you can lift up the matted hair away from the edges of the ear and just shave around the perimeter & the underside of the ear as shown below. This will leave you with a fall of ear tassel hair that will still look pretty nice although it will be thin.
Remember to tell the owners in the case where you leave shorter hair on the ears with longer hair over the top that they must be diligent with brushing as the short hair beneath grows out in length. Shorter hair beneath longer hair in any terms of dematting will usually end up matted again as the shorter hair brushes against the longer strands and catches in it. As well, if you damage the ends of the short hair which is left behind, the damaged ends will be fragmented and very easily grab onto the hair around it; knotting it up. In most cases it is just best to get all the hair off the same length at one time.
~In other cases there can be a solid mat with free flowing hair all around it. In that case I will go to my thinner shear and take a couple of strokes through the mat at the perimeter of the ear as also shown below, and then carefully brush the rest of the ear out~
Once you've carefully clipped off the hair from the topside and the underside of the ear leather, I recommend elevating the ears up and over the back of the head and holding them there with a Happy Hoodie or something of the like that will hold them in place but not squeeze them too hard.
Elevating the ears above the level of the heart, and up over the top of the head will bring them to the highest point. This will help to slow the resurgence of blood flow and hopefully lessen the tingling.
You can also use vet wrap or other rolled guaze to achieve the same type of wrap, but with a bit more steps as shown below.
photo courtesy: https://basc.org.uk/gundogs/gundog-advice/bandaging-part-1/
Leave the ears up over the top of the head while you do whatever remaining pre-bath grooming which needs to be done. In the bath carefully remove the Happy Hoodie or wrap and be sure that you're using cool to tepid water to wash the years and do not scrub them too deeply. Remember the idea here is that you're working with irritated tissue and you don't want to exacerbate the problem.
Monitor the dog during the duration of its stay, and be sure to go over the issue with the owner when they return. I recommend showing them what you've done,explaining the precautions, and letting them know to keep an eye out at home for headshaking and scratching. I also recommend if they do find the dog scratching at their ears, that they let me know right away.
Just some insight into what happens on the skin in these situations and why it's so important not to pull too hard just in order to leave a little longer hair. Never cause harm or pain in order to save hair. :)
'Tis the season for helping those in need!
We have a group of Cavalier kids coming into our Rescue Trust network who are greatly in need of vetting and I am making a formal plea to friends to donate in any way that they can.
Thank you so much for your support and help for these dogs and puppies.
National Cavalier Rescue Trust Online Store:
A long time ago I began to feel that I was different.
Be nice! LOL
But seriously, I have always been a little different in my thinking, my outlook on most things, and especially I felt different in that I could never force myself to stay at a job for very long if I wasn't happy doing it. I struggled with leaving things at the door, with doing tasks that I felt didn't have lasting result, with feeling lost in a sea of faces, and most of all with just taking my paycheck and writing the rest off.
But luckily, I eventually found grooming.
Gratefully, I have been able to do a job that I love, and for that it rarely feels like work.
When I began grooming, I noticed right away that everyone worked just a bit differently, and that was rooted deeply in their general personality traits.
I groomed over the years with many, MANY different types of people, but I learned most of all about MYSELF.
I learned what I liked, what I couldn't tolerate, my strengths and weaknesses, to challenge myself to always think outside the box, and to never fear trying something different. I learned more about myself from the dogs I groomed each day than any other aspect of my grooming experiences. How I groomed began to define a very large part of who I was as a person. And to this day, it still does.
It is in honor of the time I've spent just pondering and watching the pets I groom, of the previously unimaginable awe of a pet's unconditional love I have come to know, and of all the wonders an animal can bring to your life, that I still find myself so passionate and overflowing with joy that I find in grooming.
In honor of the lessons I have learned, of how "different" I am so happy to be, that I have worked so hard to try to encourage other groomers and animal lovers to NEVER ignore that little voice inside themselves, and to ALWAYS follow your curiousities... that I have worked to form a new and wonderful association for groomers that may have also always felt "a little different".
Of these honors, I am very grateful and happy to announce,
Our new society promises to be like nothing our industry has ever seen, a breath of fresh air, and a place for all stylists to come together to learn and share and forever change our industry through doing great things.
Together with Mary Oquendo, Barbara Bird, Daryl Connor, Lori Gulling, Sue Palmer and Melissa Jepson, we are creating an entirely new learning format and an entirely new opportunity in skill sets for the grooming industry.
Please visit our website for more information, or contact me directly with your interest!
As I wrote before, don't get bogged down in frustration or being overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do to get a groom to look its best. Why not instead seize those opportunities and take what you know, and find a way to overcome? Remaining proactive will get you much more accomplished and help you realize that most usually, with a little creativity, anything is possible!
I wanted to share some information that can help stylists and groomers to better achieve great groom outcomes even with less than ideal upkeep or appointment rotations in the salon. Options for us to make our clients happy, and to keep our workload down while maintaining efficiency.
So, right off the bat, let's tackle how to address one of the hardest types of coat to keep up in the salon atmosphere: the Terrier coat.
Anyone who spends any time grooming dogs knows that any one breed's standard dictates the trimstyle and coat upkeep needed on their breed to bring out its truest type. But, as a steadfast rule, genetics and breed lineage determine the quality of coat and the palette of attributes we as groomers have to work with to create the best possible groom.
All of those things aside however, the final say is always left up to the wishes and the genuine ability of the pet's owner in terms of their at home upkeep and their devotion in priority, and financial ability of keeping a regular rotation of dedicated grooming visits. In no way can we as a groomer bridge that final gap that sometimes exists between what we know to be correct for the dog and its breed, versus the decisions and methods we have to mold our practices around for the client dog when factoring in the actual care the pet gets from its owner.
It is very important to take proper care of terrier skin and coat in order to keep texture, layers and color visible year round. We all know that if terriers are not kept up depending on their genetic coat growth cycles, that you end up with a lackluster, overgrown, soft coat that is not indicative of a terrier at all. Therein lies the problem; you can't cheat on terrier coats. You can't cut actively growing hair off with a clipper, right along with the dead hair sitting within the same follicle. What happens when you do that, is that you back up the follicle with dead coat and this allows less & less new coat to come in. As less new, actively growing coat doesn't have room to come in, and the dead coat isn't removed from its place in the follicle, you inevitably end up with fluffy, soft, dull, dead coated terriers.
We also know that a lot of times your terrier owners in the pet salon cannot or will not commit to a two, three or four-week regular rotation you need in order to keep coats true. So what can we do his pet groomers that is both time effective and profitable in the grooming salon atmosphere as well as helps to maintain skin and coat on these breeds that grow & shed or "turn coat over" quickly, and keep clients happy?
We need to utilize the next best options as much as we can to get the most out of the coat growth phases while providing the methods of care such hair coat still needs to look its best. Those options come in the form of clearing out all of the dead hair coat, removing built up oils and dander from the skin, flushing out the hair follicles, and then using our hands and tools in a method that mimics the handstripping that these breeds require for upkeep. All the while, doing this within a time frame that keeps us efficient. And as a final measure towards a happy groomer AND a happy client, we need to PRICE our services properly to reflect the fat that we are playing a game of catch up at every visit. This is a skill greatly unrealize by many groomers.
Take it from me, until you decide to charge more for a difficult groom, nothing will make you feel better about having a dog coming in that you know will be a mess. That is, unless you've added tools to your arsenal that help you groom easier, and seal the deal by charging more for your hard work.
Below is an Irish terrier who only comes in every 8 to 10 weeks. Yes, 8-10 weeks. Believe me, you'll see what I'm saying when you see the before photo...
Genetically, I know this terrier needs a dedicated weekly stripping rotation on average to keep the undercoat down, and the harsh guard coat in all its fast shedding glory. This means that weekly, a person should be putting in about an hour or so of solid pulling of dead secondary coat and dead and dying guard coat to keep the skin debrided, and the coat colored, tight, and tailored true to its breed.
I have found that with a lot of salon clients that cannot keep up a tight grooming rotation schedule, or those that say they don't like their dogs short and tight coated or "naked", that these methods below are able to effectively bridge the gap between reality and being a groomer that delivers.
You and I know full well that if we don't give a client what they're asking for, they're just going to get it somewhere else. Obviously we need to educate and take the time to create a repoir with each client in the best interest of the dog that were grooming, but in the end if we don't give them what they want I'll just go elsewhere to get it. That doesn't help the dog and it doesn't help your sales revenue.
At times like that I groom the dog to the best of my ability and knowledge, and I keep a smile on my face the whole time I'm discussing with clients what is that they'd like to have their dog turn out like. Knowing full well that in the end I will do what I have to do to get them what they want as well as best caring for the dogs coat within my own a professional ability, but always without losing my profit margin.
Our first job as a groomer is always to remove dead and un-needed hair and dirt so that the healthy skin and coat can shine through. We are the housekeepers of coat.
To this effect, I always tackle every coat on my terriers with rakes, carding knives, a stone, a stiff bristle brush, and my hands, before even putting them into the tub. Working the coat with its natural oils present helps you to not irritate the skin by working it, and it helps you to be less likely to accidentally break coat when doing your initial raking and carding if you're working with very long tangled coat, or still mastering your terrier skills.
After working thoroughly through the coat in these stages below, the dog goes into the bath and receives a good benzoyl peroxide to or other follicular flushing shampoo. I do not use clarifying shampoo is in the salon on these coats as they are most usually overdrying and will put the skin into overdrive to create an abundance of oils in order to rehydrate. This can cause excesive oiliness at their next visit. I do not use terrier or texturizing shampoos which deposit a sealant on the coat that increases texture. Texturizing shampoos left on the coat for any length of time will most definitely cause breakage. As well I do not apply heavy cream conditioners on most any of my terriers with exception sometimes to long furnishings. Instead I opt for a light spray on conditioner put onto the coat as a final step just to add light moisture but nothing that will attract dirt.
This is our terrier; in all her fluffy glory- ready for her initial coat removal before her bath.
First I use my coat rakes to rake through the coat in multiple steps. I begin with my coarse rake going over the entire dog to pull out the last layer of dead, long hair- working in layers- including the furnishings; but working carefully on the legs with any coat removal tool that has sharp tines. Next I move to my fine rake and repeat the thorough going over of the dog from the neck all along the jacket area. I do not fine rake the leg furnishings or the chest or side coat of any terrier as that would be asking for breakage.
After that I move to my carding knives. I start with my coarse carding knife and then move to my fine carding knife, working in each step completely through the coat of the dog with exception to the head and leg furnishings.
I work with a flat knife, or laying the knife flat gainst the skin at all times. I never turn my wrist or fingers as that will stand the knive on its teeth and most usually abrade the skin and/or break coat.
Finally, I work through the entire coat- including the furnishings and beard- with a final brushing with either a stiff bristle brush or palm pad, or a very soft flexible style slicker such as Les Poochs or my newest favorite tool- the ActiVet brush pictured below and available from Groomer's Helper.
This final cycle of fine brushing pulls a little more oils up & out of the skin and gets the last it of hair ready to exit the coat.
Lastly, I do my handstripping work to pull out coat that needs a little direct attention to get out.
The head and leg furnishings I also always pull my hand, because you'll find with breakage of finer hairs that these areas and that since these hairs grow and then shed the fastest, that they also lose their texture and color the fastest, as well as flatwork areas of coat (areas where the hair naturally grows in shorter & must be kept tighter such as the head, cheeks, throat and butterfly or inner thigh areas).
After a complete cycle of raking followed by a complete cycle of carding knives, I go through the jacket coat and roll it loosely between my fingers pulling out only the longest and most ready to shed hairs within the coat. You can use powder for this step, but it is not necessary.
After the jacket pull, I quickly pull the head & beard hair down as needed by hand including as much of the ear hair as they will allow. It is important regardless of whether or not you're leaving more coat on your pet terrier than what he should by breed standard have, to at least nail the head profile on these dogs so that they still look like a terrier in the end.
After all of the dead coat is removed, we have a dog that's pulled pretty well down.
Next its into the tub, and a then a thorough HV drying with the growth of coat to set the lay of coat. Setting the lay of coat with your dryer will help create a tighter profile in the end. You cannot allow a dog to kennel dry in order to help *marcelle* or keep natural wave to the coat, but I have found that with these pet dogs actively drying the coat helps to remove every bit of dead hair and is incremental as a part to keeping the coats free of dead coat for a longer grooming rotation.
After the HV drying, I work through the coat again in the same stages repeated over the entire dog, which goes much faster as most all of the hair is already out.
From there I do the clippering portion of the groom to tighten everything up. I use a skip tooth blade of my desired length depending on what the owner has asked for. With this dog I chose a #4S (Skip) tooth blade. With this blade I skim loosely over the coat to tighten everything and make sure that there are no moth-eaten (uneveness caused by areas of blown coat) areas in the coat to the best of my ability. After the clipper work on the jacket and neck area of the dog, and doing the sani areas and feet tight with my clipper.
Terriers are diggers and tight feet will always help with mess!
From there, I tidy up and finish the headpiece on the dog and hand pull anything needed on the leg furnishings and the tail in the sensitive areas. I also will flat re-clipper the throat latch mark outs and the butterfly area on the back of the dog as well as the inner ear of the dog nice and tight and the flu needs to be cleaned up as well.
If a client says that they want their dog "fluffy", and some do- I will help reintroduce some curl to the coat as a final step. To do this, I apply a light leave in or terrier coat conditioning spray and lightly dampen the jacket & neck coat with a spritz of distilled water. Then I softly squeeze the coat throughout the length of the dog. This is a technique known as marcelling for breeds like Kerryblue Terriers. It's purpose for pet grooming is to reintroduce the soft curls and a separation to the coat that the owners find appealing to keeping them curly and soft looking. (And yes, some terrier people want a fluffy cuddly looking dog just as much as some Poodle owners are adamant of not having a "poodly-looking" Poodle). From there they go into the crate to finish under a low setting fan to get them completely dry or to air dry depending on their length of visit.
This is the end result, and another reminder photo of what we started out with!
Here are several other terriers who also get the same method of care!
You see it time & time again. In posts and threads online, in group meeting discussions and amongst friends in the same line of work....groomers complaining about how poorly their clients care for their pets. Groomers not being able to let go of the frustration and anger towards clients over how little they care or know about grooming, how little respect they feel they get, or how little money they make to deal with the level of issues they see walk into their businesses. Groomers having to vent negativity on a regular basis. Bubbling over with anxiety and stress until it spills out on those around them.
Few people will be brave enough to pop in as a voice of reason and remind people that they are the one who dictates their pay rate as well as their own level of enjoyment in their work, no one else.
When I see or hear this stuff, I'm usually one of the first to state my personal opinion and then quickly and quietly exit stage left....
Recently there have been multiple "reminder posts" from long time groomers that had been there, done that, asking disgruntled and stressed out groomers to take charge of their own destiny and take that energy and put it into more proactive efforts.
I couldn't agree more..
I've got to tell you, I'm personally thankful this level of angst is a minority.
And both in person and online, with all of the trade shows and classes, or groups and chat rooms sitting there at your disposal, it is easy to notice that it seems that certain groomers often go through these levels of contempt or frustration in what comes to be to the quiet onlooker as definite cycles...
It should be mentioned that with the 5 minutes of fame you get from being the "flavor of the day" online, or getting cheers from fellow naysayers, its really self defeating to your own work, and to the work of others in the industry you call home, to participate in melodrama or endless ranting. Instead, in the best interest of your own emotional well being, those standing on the outside of the mob invite you to eagerly run away at full throttle from any negative venting that is laden with nastiness.
Remember, people who are always intolerant or gossipy, will eventually bestow their gifts upon you.
But I digress...
I'm quite sure that every industry deals with it share of Negative Nellies, but perhaps because groomers are truly a passionate and creative bunch, or because since we are unregulated, social and news media coverage of bad situations are allowed to get out of hand pretty quickly with little recourse, we are especially hard hit by those who behave badly or with bad poor forethought.
I wanted to write this blog to discuss these peronality types and to shed some light on the thought process (or lack thereof) behind being reacitve and negative towards clients. My purpose is not at all to shame or ostrecize, not to bring poor behavior into the limelight, nor to emphasis a negative (but small) aspect of the people who work each day to comprise our industry.
Instead I'd hoped to maybe offer a different viewpoint to those who may just have their toes hanging over the edge of "going to the dark side" and struggling with not getting caught in the undertow of frustration. And especially to help our new groomers- who are just now learning the ropes of their profession- to understand that negativity and dishonesty is not the norm, and it is not well received by industry peers who seek to bring our work to a higher level or respect and consideration from pet owners and governing bodies.
Those of us who have been grooming for a very long time, have had successful businesses, and who speak and write to fans and peers who come to us for knowledgeable advice, have groomed in our salons most happily for many years. We have learned through personal experience that you must find the joy in what you do in order to do it for the right reasons. We have created a lengthy list of faithful and respectful clients by cultivating mutual tolerance, respect and appreciation. And we have been the designers of both a profitable and fulfilling career.
If you are one of those groomers who finds yourself often upset through the day, your grooming day drawing to a close with yet another sequence of frustrating events, I would ask you to take an honest look at how you felt when you came in to work. Because unless some truly altering event happens, it is surely still the way you'll feel when you finish work, if not worse.
Some honest questions for the consistantly frustrated stressed out and angry groomer:
Why was it again that you got into this line of work?
Because you love animals?
Do you realize that its the animals that lose out when you allow your emotions to get the best of you?
You do realize that part of our job description requires that we fully realize that we do not own all of our the pets that come to see us? That part of our job in all fairness should be fixing mistakes and kindly educating and having patience with other humans just as much as that dog on the table in front of you?
And you do realize, don't you, that our entire industry loses out every time another animal loving and compassionate groomer closes their doors out of not learning to better work alongside their pet clients' human counterparts?
And you do realize that forever in the balance between being truly right, or being truly wrong, there are hundreds of gradiations of compromise and simple differences in opinion...?
So, you as a person in this world, do you want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution?
Do you want to put out good things and feel at peace with your efforts each day, or do you want to allow yourself to fold on all of the differences you can help cultivate- effects that could ripple out and possibly change many more events than you can't currently foresee?
It is important every day to stop to realize how vast each small corner of our world actually is. And even that with all it is comprised of, it is still infinitely small when compared to the realization that each and every person has their own tiny place to fill, their own set of responsibilities, their own version of reality, and their own goodness to bring to this big world. And all of these things have to come into unison just to get then to walk through your salon door.
So what will you do to get them to keep coming back?
At times we walk a tightrope between skirting our best judgement and giving our paying customers what they want and are still able to pay for. Some say never compromise, but after all of these yers grooming, I have learned full well that cutting off your nose to spite your own face, can come at the expense of your business. Sure, we all want what's best for us because we're the ones doing the work, and should never put ourselves or our clients in harm's way. But over many issues we can take with any number of opportunitues in the given grooming day, we have to set our emotions aside and ask, "Is it really worth it"? Is it worth it to possibly ruin a client relationship over? Is it worth it to tarnish the level of respect and appreciation you work so hard every day to both earn and to deserve? Is it worth it to remove the opportunity to truly help the pet that sees you for the care they need to feel better? Who really gets let down in that equation? No one's ego, that's for sure. Furthermore, it can weigh heavily on your self respect for you to look back on a confrontation with a client and wish you'd done things differently. By then, the lesson learned and the reflection you make with have settled too late.
Is it safe to be completely unforgiving in a profession where at any given moment, it could be you who needs the forgiveness and understanding?
It is important to never compromise our ability to the point where we do something not in the dog's best interest nor with their comfort and safety at the helm. But it is also important not to sweat the small stuff. Not to let yourself get frustrated by what you see walk into your business each day, and not to judge minor infringements on prioritizing pet care to the top of everyone's list. To remember that unless a pet is truly being caused pain, there really is no definite assertion of cruelty. And if they are being put in harms way, you'll do them far more good by being an advocate for them than a tyrant.
What we as professionals notice, whose job it is to note all of the aspects of grooming and general health, often mistake as common knowledge the things we see being missed or not cared for, are simply not always apparent to a pet' owner. Mats here & there, dirty ears, overgrown nails, a lump or bump- and the owner never even knew it was there?! HOW?! you say, does an owner not know these things?! Well, because not everyone is alike. Not everyone cares for a pet the same way, to the same level or way that you personally do, and no one in turn can be held to any one person's standard of judgement when we each must live our own lives each day. We all prioritize differently, we all find different things to be a soure of joy or a source of difficulty. And on any given day, our lives can change. Changes that ripple out and can drastically cause but brief interruptions in our normal schedules, and in our normal activities, or can permanently change the course that we had planned for ourselves. It is unfair as professional pet care providers to pass judgement on our clients. Yes, there is always a right and a wrong way to do any one thing, but isn't the perception of what is right and what is wrong as invidividually decided as the individual who sets their perceptions? What we perceive as neglect, may simply be something someone overlooked.
Do not immeidately attribute to malevolence what could as easily to attributed to ignorance.
It is not realistic to assume that we all hum along on the same set of algorythms and are all on the same page when it comes to how we take in or give back forms of love and relationships like those we as animal lovers find necessary towards happiness.
I personally find brushing my dogs to be a moment of zen. Both of bonding with them, and with accomplishing a task at the same time of finding sweet release in a repetitive behavior that is second nature to me. But in reality, by the time I've groomed everyone elses' dogs, some days I barely have the energy to eat a decent meal before falling into bed.
On those days, my dogs go unbrushed...
*GASP and clutch the pearls!*
It's true, and if anyone said I was a bad pet owner for having unbrushed dogs, or taking a #7 to my Poodle, because after all, I am a GROOMER, they'd likely recieve a stern reminder of an alternate reality and a parallel universe very quickly. ;)
The saying goes; "Be the change you want to see in the world".
Well, are you?
In the following series of articles, I will be writing about methods and mindsets for the salon that will help us overcome the shortcomings of pet owner upkeep and the lofty dreams of styling outcomes versus what we can do short of a magic wand.
Things that we can do to best help our pet clients, and best help our level of sanity, and to remain profitable, all the while being proactive towards staying happy and feeling accomplishment.
Please stay tuned for many more blogs!
Please help yourself to these breed charts. They're great for referencing when grooming or when learning more about a specific breed.
The Wire Fox Terrier
The Scottish Terrier
This is Siouxsie.
Since a very young age, she has been dealing with a myriad of genetic defects. I got her from a breeder at 8 weeks and after just a few days with her, I could tell something was very wrong.
My original vet for her optimistically gave her 6 months at most to live.
Siouxsie has been diagnosed with SM (syringomyelia), scoliosis, a severe heart murmur, minor dysplasia, and all of the related symptoms because of these health issues- have been very hard on her. A lot of expense went into just figuring out what was wrong with her before we could even get to the business of trying to help her.
The breeder I got her from wanted her euthanized when I had her vetted and the results came back. She wouldn't give me a refund or a replacement puppy unless she received a death certificate for Siouxsie. I can see now how she might feel that way...
The attending vet gave her no more than 6 months to live without having to consider humane euthanization because of how quickly she was developing issues. I, for quite possibly selfish reasons at that point, decided that I was NOT going to just give up on this puppy.
I had 6 Cavaliers of my own then, and had raised 3 litters, so I thought for sure I could figure this out and fix this dog.
By 3 months of age, Siouxsie was nearly horseshoe shaped and could not bend her spine. I left her attending vet and took her to 2 specialists who also discovered that her juvenile heart murmur had not lessened and she was exhibiting CM/SM symptoms as well.
I thankfully found a good canine chiropractor and confided in a friend who taught me massage regimens to share with her to help her spinal fluid blockages and the scoliosis pain and well as to help her range of motion. This friend later taught me acupressure and recommended that I look into acupuncture as well. I will never be able to express enough gratitude to her for her knowledge, support & guidance, and for not judging me or expressing opinion when she may well have felt I should just let Siouxsie go.
By 6 months of age, her syringomyelia had already began to show aggressive signs which is very early for that disease to be that symptomatic. After her second MRI, the attending vet stated again that I ought to not consider prolonging euthanization for fear that her condition would only worsen. But I was gambling on the hopes that since the SM disease was then quite shadowy and often misunderstood, that I could still utilize the curve and get her well.
I spent a lot of my time educating myself on practicing massage, acupressure and eventually sharing Reiki with her several times a week. She was always my practice dog for new things I would learn about; flopping over on her side as soon as I walked up to her- asking for help- and I owe my initial interest in learning more methods of medical and supportive animal care solely to having her in my life.
I cannot imagine the pain she dealt with on her bad days, but when she had good days, she greeted those with great exuberance, a swooshy butt and a never-ending affinity for FOOD. On the bad days, she was quiet, symptomatic and tired. On those days she got extra massage, heat packs/cold packs, and added herbals.
Within a year's time and with regular care, her spine straightened until she had only minimal muscular tension and curvature across her left shoulder. As her growth slowed & her adult structure came together, her neck and ear scratching, fly biting, and star gazing lessened considerably. Her SM symptoms subsided and she had far more good days and far less bad days. Her range of motion was remarkably better and I could see her personality start to really come out from under the veil that her pain had been hiding.
Over the years she remained my massage partner, my Reiki and meditation partner and my reminder that as a breeder, I had a responsibility to never give up on a dog or to not remember for even a second that every pup I bred never really stopped being a member of my extended family. She never gave up on me and I never gave up on her.
Today Siouxsie turned 8 years old.
She still has bad days, but when she does, she flops on her side and asked for me to help her. And I do, and she helps me, too.
In honor of her pain, her healing, her journey, and for all she taught me, Siouxsie will be my hands on dog for all of the instructional photos in my Canine Massage Therapy book and its accompanying videos. I thought it was only fair that in honor of her memory, whenever SHE decides to take her light to another place, she help others here to better care for their pets and maybe to show them that just about anything is possible if you try hard enough.
Below is a simple chart showing the growth stages of the canine double coat; one with a dense guard coat to undercoat ratio.
This is a handy chart to have on hand when relating to clients the importance of keeping up their double coated breed. It diagrams how a coat works either for or against the dog's well being and comfort.