All About That Comb!

Meghan Trainor, a singer and musician, sings it so well …

“I’m all about that bass, Bout that bass … bass … bass … bass”

Ellen Ehrlich, pet stylist and canine beautifer, likes to sing …

“I’m all about that comb, Bout that comb … comb … comb … comb”

Who knew? When I started grooming, I thought it was all about the brush. I was so wrong. I learned this lesson early on, when I arrived in my mobile van for a Havanese puppy’s first groom. I asked the new pet owner during the phone interview, “Are you brushing Bella?” Her response, “Every day.” Boy, was I in for a surprise. Little did I know she was brushing her puppy’s hair with the brush she used on her infant.

What happened next will be of no surprise to my fellow groomers. Bella’s hair was pretty and fluffy on top. Lurking below all that fuzzy hair was a pelt. I texted Mom to come out to the van where I had the opportunity to show her the coat and discuss the puppy’s matted hair.

This was my “ah ha” moment. Brushes lie, but a comb always tells the truth. A comb is a pet owner and groomer’s best friend. What would our lives be without a comb? Combs get into some of the nooks and crannies where brushes can’t go. Combs are so important that judges carry and use a comb when going over a competition dog in the ring. Some pet stylists have been known to stick a comb into their own hair to keep it handy.


Photo Courtesy of Libi Villagomez

The word comb is defined as “a strip of plastic, metal, or wood with a row of narrow teeth, used for untangling or arranging the hair.” Combs have been around for five thousand years. They are usually flat and have a frame with teeth sticking out; they’re simple tools. Even so, never underestimate their power!

Combs have many important uses; they untangle wet and dry hair and fix stray hair. They help put hair into different positions and styles and are used for parting and braiding. The reason why there is such an array of different combs in the grooming industry is because dog and cat hair have such a wide variety of thickness, texture, and length. Combs keep your pet beautiful and healthy. They search for tiny parasites like fleas and are very helpful tools during the bath.

There are many excellent products and options on the market when it comes to purchasing combs. Groomers have favorites and use them in different situations.

Helen Schaefer’s favorite is the 10” Andis comb. This comb makes back brushing easy and is great for thinning shear work. The fine end is very short for picking out small knots; the wide end gets through the thickest coats. This comb is not expensive and is durable. It’s Helen’s workhorse.

Comb Andis

Debi Hilley loves her Utsumi Half Moon comb. It’s great for fine hair because the teeth and fine spacing make it perfect for fluffing and finishing. It’s Christine Ann Pasieka’s favorite everyday comb. She likes the way it grabs hair to prep the coat for clipping. This comb comes with a high price tag but Christine feels it was money well spent. Debi states, “Without the right comb you cannot get a good finish on a coat. With the right comb you could rule the world!” I’m happy to see a grooming tool that is both practical and sexy.

Comb:Utsumi:purpleLinda Trader

Photo by Linda Trader

Carol Visser uses this comb, commonly called a poodle comb, not only for poodles, but also for double-coated dogs like Newfoundland’s and Golden Retrievers. It is also a favorite of Julie Ellison’s. She uses it for de-shedding, line-combing drop coats, and detangling. Both pet stylists agree that the wooden handle is thick enough to hold comfortably and the design helps keep hands from tiring, especially if you have arthritis. Julie prefers this comb to undercoat rakes because the teeth are rounded and do not cause trauma to the dog’s skin.


Gillian Harvey loves her 4 ½” Greyhound Pocket Combs when she grooms cats. The small one is great for face, legs, and under armpits; the course comb for the bulk of the coat. She has small hands so they are comfortable.


This is Valerie Lagalo’s favorite comb for cats. Valerie states, “The long and short teeth work well in getting down to the skin in fine coats.” Many cat groomers who use this comb feel the same way.


Find combs that are right for you. Ask your grooming buddies what combs they like. Make sure the combs you use fit your hand properly. I know many groomers who own a collection of combs in every shape and size. When using a comb always think safety first, as you would any grooming tool. Linda Trader shared, “With any comb you use, make sure the pins are not sharp and don’t scratch the pet.”

Always take care of your combs. Lara Latshaw is careful not to drop hers. Janie Semprevivo places her combs in Barbicide, an approved hospital disinfectant, after every dog and for thirty minutes at the end of the day. Judi Stratton puts her combs in an ultrasonic cleaner. Sharon Zimmerman mists her combs with alcohol and dries them with towel.

I’m happy to report Bella, the Havanese puppy, had a terrific outcome. Mom purchased a brush and comb and uses them. Pet stylists and teamwork pet owners understand that the comb is an important tool in our arsenal against tangles, knots, and mats. Let’s change the popular phrase, “Brush your cat or dog” to “Brush and comb your cat or dog.” Combs are not only great for human heads; they are also perfect for pets.

I love collaborating with groomers. A heartfelt thank you to every pet stylist that contributed to this article.

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. She is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

Pricing — Excerpt from The Successful Pet Groomer

Pricing is one of the most important parts of running a grooming business. I have seen this with my own eyes. If you do not start out pricing right, your business will flounder. The last thing you want to be is swimming upstream. The work is too hard.

If you are not showing a profit, you will not be able to pay yourself a living wage and afford important necessities including the best tools and products that you need to run a top-notch business. It will be difficult to maintain your van or trailer if you are mobile.

Attending a grooming show or taking a much-needed vacation will be out of the question. You will not be able to afford health insurance, something that has become so important to each and every one of us in this day and time.

Many pet stylists are beginning to realize how important it is to charge by the hour, as many breeds are not created equal. For example, I groom many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. There is a huge range in size and coat. Some take an hour. Others can take as long as ninety minutes. This is a perfect example why groom fees can fluctuate.

All dogs should have their own pricing scale but the same criterion applies to all: size, age, weight, health, coat condition, grooming temperament, time, and labor.

Consider big dogs, including giant breeds. These dogs require a lot of labor and can be backbreakers. Some require two groomers. Not all groomers will even tackle the big ones. Groom fees should reflect the time and effort it takes to get the large breeds done properly and safely, including cleanup.

Owners who have their pet groomed more often should not have to pay the same fee as a pet who is groomed four times a year. This is why groom fees by breed should not be etched in stone. Price accordingly.

Starting out with lower fees and giving away discounts, thinking this will attract new customers, is a huge pitfall new groomers fall into. Groomers that go this route have come to regret it and urge others not to make the same mistakes they did. Their business filled up with lower-paying customers. Once the business was up and running, it was very difficult to raise prices and take those discounts away.

Elizabeth Adams states, ”I lowballed myself when I started and it hurt a lot when it came time to raise my prices. My advice is to ask for what you want the first time.”

Do not take tips into consideration when figuring out your pricing. Price as if you will not be tipped. If you are driving away or pets leave the salon and you feel you needed a tip, you are not charging enough.

The biggest mistake I made when starting my business was that I did not charge extra for additional services like dematting and deshedding. A tip from me – let your customers know upfront that these services are not included in the groom fee. Communicate with your clients to help them learn about and understand the grooming process.

Remind your customers before grooming that you gave them an estimate, not a price. Have their written bill ready and itemized when you return the pet. Remove from the equation that awkward moment when you have to speak up and tell mom the groom fee is going to cost more due to behavior, coat condition, etc. If they have any questions they can always ask you.

When you are overflowing with customers and do not have any appointments available it is the perfect time to reorganize your business (see Chapter 8) and increase your prices. Pat yourself on the back because you are giving yourself a raise. Smile. Your business is growing in the right direction.

Price right from the beginning! Charge what you and your services are worth. This will put you on the path to success no matter what you groom: big dogs, little dogs, cats, haircuts or baths. As Barbara Bird once said so brilliantly, “It is all about your happy price.”


Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, she loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be.  For more information go to:

Holiday Treats Your Clients Will Love

Holiday Treats Your Clients Will Love

Groomers love the holidays! The Internet is buzzing with projects, from custom pet ornaments and Christmas photos, to homemade dog cookies and fancy bows. Pet stylists want to make every holiday season special. It’s contagious.

I get into the spirit around Thanksgiving. I’ve done just about everything there is to do to wow my four-legged friends. Have you ever considered their two-legged family?

Here are two recipes your customers will love!



This recipe takes about ten minutes and satisfies the sweet and salty. Your clients will flip for this sweet treat!

Small pretzels


Pecan halves, M&M’s, walnut halves, peanut M&M’s, macadamia nuts

  1. Heat over to 350 degrees.
  2. Place one Rolo on each pretzel.
  3. Bake 3-5 minutes. Do not melt.
  4. Press pecan half or topping of your choice.
  5. Refrigerate.


This recipe is a bit more complicated. We usually make a few trays at a time. It’s a fan favorite. Many of my clients look forward to it.

Approximately 40 Saltine crackers or matzoh

1-cup butter (don't use margarine)

1-cup LIGHT brown sugar (not dark)

12 oz. chocolate chips                                                                                     

1-cup nuts (your choice) roughly chopped

You can also use crushed peppermints, coconut, etc.


  1. Place the saltines or matzoh in a single layer on a cookie pan that has been lined with foil.
  2. In a pot melt the butter. Add the brown sugar.  Stir often and bring to  a full rolling boil for EXACTLY 3 minutes.
  3. Pour and spread over the saltines.
  4. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 5 minutes. 
  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Wait until they are almost melted; spread over all the saltines. Sprinkle the nuts over the top as evenly as possible. 
  6. Lightly press the nuts into the chocolate. 
  7. Refrigerate for two hours.
  8. Store in an airtight container.


Now for the fun part! Break the crackle into small pieces. Place them into small paw print bags. Voila!


Warning! Warning! These are yummy. Step away from the Holiday Crackle! Even the crumbs are delicious.

These simple and quick recipes will be sure to bring a smile to your customer’s faces. Embrace and share the festivities with your fellow pet lovers. It is a very special time of year. This can be one more way to say thank you to your clients for entrusting you with a special member of their family.

Hugs and Happy Holidays 2015 to all!


Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, she loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be.  For more information go to:


Living With An Elderly Pet

Living With An Elderly Pet 

This is something every pet owner has to face, watching his or her companion grow old. My husband Doug and I are facing this situation, living with our fourteen-year-old standard poodle Jesse.


Old age isn't a disease, but an inevitable stage of life. The term "geriatric" signifies the point at which 75 percent of the pet’s anticipated lifespan has passed.

Jesse’s eyes have a cloudy blue glaze, a red flag for optical issues. This could signal the growth of cataracts. Another possibility is a condition called nuclear sclerosis. This doesn’t put a dog’s vision in as much danger as cataracts might, and treatment isn’t usually recommended, however, any cloudiness in your pet’s eyes are a sign for a visit to the veterinarian.

Deafness is another issue for seniors. Jesse no longer hears the doorbell ring or the garage door open. When I call his name or give him a command and he doesn’t respond, I don’t think for a moment he is ignoring me. Dogs first lose the ability to hear low sounds, like voices. Pet’s may also sleep more soundly due to the fact that they do not hear sounds they normally heard when they were younger.

Senior pets are more sensitive to temperature changes due to the shift in their metabolism. There is a reduced tolerance to cold and heat. Since I live in a cold weather climate Jesse will be wearing a sweater this winter when he goes out to potty. Hot weather is also a concern for older pets as they can dehydrate quicker. Make sure clean, fresh water is available at all times to replenish lost fluids.

Diet is a huge issue for older pets. Be aware of foods targeted to “seniors” as there are no real legal requirements or definition of what constitutes a senior food. Be sure your dog's diet is appropriate to prevent tummy upset. This includes introducing any new foods.

You may see changes in eating habits as your pet ages. Their appetite might increase or decrease. Always do your research and read the labels of everything you feed your pet. If you have any questions or are unsure what is best, ask your veterinarian.

Monitor your pets weight as extra pounds can cause joint pain due to the additional stress on muscles, bones, and ligaments. Muscle weakness, reduced mobility, and less activity can become noticeable in seniors. Two common complaints in older pets are arthritis and hip dysplasia. These ailments tend to become more painful and more apparent as years pass. Ramps and carpet can make it safer and easier for your senior pet to get around. Stairs may be off limits to prevent an accident.

To make your pet more comfortable a soft, padded bed to sleep on is recommended. Look for thick foam to cushion sensitive joints. There are orthopedic, bolster, and heated beds available, both in stores and on the Internet.

Older dogs can also develop the human equivalent of Alzheimer's disease called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Some of the symptoms are:

  1. Wanders. Appears lost or confused in familiar surroundings
  2. Stares. Disorientation
  3. Does not recognize familiar people. Decrease in greeting behavior
  4. Inattentive and/or decreased responsiveness to verbal commands
  5. Forgets the reason they went outside
  6. Gets stuck in corners. Has difficulty finding the door
  7. Increased irritability, fear, or aggression

Urinary and bowel incontinence is common in elderly pets. Muscles, nerves, and organs don't work as well as they used to when your pup or kitty were younger. Some geriatric pets, “go” when they are resting or sleeping and don’t even know it. This can also be a result of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction because the pet forgot the house training rules they learned as a puppy.

If it is a hormone imbalance it may be treated with medication and/or supplements. Since this is a big issue for pet owners, a vet visit is recommended. Other health issues need to be ruled out, neurological problems, Cushing’s or Addison’s disease, a bladder infection or diabetes. Surgery might not be an option due to the age and health of your pet.

If it is just old age, incontinence can be managed. Doggy diapers and bellybands are readily available. Use old towels, plastic sheeting, and washable blankets where your pet spends most of his or her time or sleeps. Have the same set-up in the car.

Pay close attention to non-verbal clues and walk your older pet more often. Keep urine odor and stain removal products handy. You might want to keep the pet confined to a part of your home where cleanups are simple and easy.

Deciding whether or not to treat illnesses, such as cancer, is difficult for many senior pet owners. There are so many things to consider: the cost of treatment, a pet's quality of life after treatment, whether the treatment is painful and how long a dog's life can be extended. Sophisticated advances in veterinary medical technology help dogs and cats remain healthier longer but always put the best interest of the pet first.

End of life decisions and care are the most difficult part of having a geriatric pet. There may be a time in a dog or cat’s life where he or she may indicate by their behavior that it's time to let go.

If the pet has reached a point where they have given up —not enjoying life, not playing, not interacting, haven't responded to any therapies, losing interest in food and social interactions you have to think very seriously about what is their quality of life. That is the most heart breaking difficult decision to make.

Our pets are our best friends and constant companions. Doug and I feel privileged to care for Jesse through this stage of life. It is easy to blink back tears just thinking about losing him. We treasure and are grateful for every minute we spend with our elderly pet. We do not take anything for granted as every day is a gift.


Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, she loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be. Ellen is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays on Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

Yes You Can!


I had no idea what the future held when I graduated from grooming school in 2006. I thought I was going to be a mobile groomer and spend my days grooming dogs and cats. Something happened one evening that changed the course of my life. I was sitting in my favorite chair in 2008 when I had an idea. I decided to write an outline of my business.

I loved mobile grooming so much! It was all I thought about. It made perfect sense to me to analyze my business. When I was finished with my outline I knew I had something but, I didn’t know what. It just so happened Intergroom was around the corner. I decided to bring the outline and show it to somebody … but to whom?

I wandered around Intergroom with a manila envelope under my arm. “Who should I give it to? What should I say?” Then I spotted a friendly face across the room … Daryl Conner! I walked up to her and introduced myself and asked her, “Would you take a look at my outline?” She responded, “Yes!”

Then I waited. I was terrified of what she might say. Would she tell me, “Ellen, That’s dreadful! Pack it in girlfriend! It’s a dud.” Then the email came. Daryl said, “Write a book.” I did a double take. My eyes opened wide. 

Write a book? I had never written anything in my life. The last time I wrote a paper I was in college. To make matters worse, I can’t type well. It seemed ridiculous and formidable at the same time. How could I write a book when I had only been grooming for two years? 

I often think back to the night I got Daryl’s email. I’m glad I didn’t listen to my own voice whispering in my ear, “Are you crazy woman? You can’t write a book. You are not a writer,” when I had an “ah-ha” moment. Daryl’s comment created a vision. Write a book? “Yes, I will I said to myself. I will try.”

Fulfilling a dream or a vision is a process. It all starts with an idea that you believe in. From that idea a plan is born. It can be terrifying. That’s where the scary part comes into play. “What if I fail? Will I look foolish? What will others think?” It’s best to put those feelings into a little box throw away the key and get started on your dream.

Negative thinking will not help you accomplish your goal. Don’t let quitting be an option. There can be many ups and downs and discouraging moments on the bumpy road of fulfilling your dream. If you truly believe in what you are doing, these feelings will fall to the wayside as you immerse yourself in the project at hand.

Fulfilling a dream is not just the physical task of sitting down and typing, such as writing a book. A tremendous amount of thought goes into it. That’s the fun! Use your imagination. Let it run wild! This is your dream. Enjoy the ride. It is one of the best parts.

Dreams do not happen on their own, overnight. Be committed and focus on your dream everyday. Tackle a little bit on a regular basis. Climbing a mountain begins with a single step. Create your own ripple. Work hard. Take action. Keep a notebook handy to jot down your ideas. Keywords and key phrases are valuable and useful tools as you follow the path of fulfilling your dream.

If you need advice or hit a roadblock reach out. Successful people I know want to help others fulfill their dreams. This creates a pay it forward domino effect that enables and encourages others to accomplish their goals. Share. Be a team player. Network. This can make everyone’s future success even sweeter.

I spent the next year of my life grooming everyday and writing every night, fulfilling my dream. I wrote and wrote and wrote until I had nothing left to say about mobile grooming. That’s how Go Mobile And Succeed was born. I share this story with you because that book went on to become loved by many who were interested in mobile pet grooming. It empowered women and men to change their careers and lives.

I went on to do many things I never thought I could. As I worked and the years went by I began to see that my career was more than just about grooming pets and helping people have a successful business. When speaking in the grooming industry, I always tell my fellow pet stylists, “I want to inspire you to have the best business you can. Go out and make your hopes and dreams happen.” Through commitment, determination, passion, and hard work everyone can achieve more than they ever thought they could. Dreams can become a reality. 


Ellen is the author of Go Mobile And Succeed, The Successful Pet Groomer, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

Can't Promise Pretty - Groomer To Groomer Magazine - May 2015

Mary Oquendo coined this phrase back in the early days of It stuck in my mind, because in the grooming profession, you can’t always promise pretty.

In a perfect world, puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats, would stand on our grooming tables like statues. They would offer their nails for a pedicure, their ears for cleaning, and their faces to wash. They would jump in the tub, turn when asked, and roll over for tummy trims. No one would ever have a tangle or “smile” at the groomer. Every pet would have an impeccable coat. Wouldn’t you love to live in this world?

Let’s face it. Although we have furry clients that are terrific for grooming, there are obstacles every pet stylist has to overcome to obtain the perfect compromise between comfort and style. Since we’re working with living creatures, the groomer has to consider age, coat condition/matting, health issues, once or twice a year pets, behavior, and temperament.

We can’t take it personally. Not all pets love grooming. Even my poodle Jesse, who is an angel for grooming, looks glum when I ask him to get in the van and jump on my grooming table. What’s important to know is when we groom pets, there are certain limitations on what we can and can’t do.

Jesse is an older gentleman, going on fourteen. Standing on the grooming table for a couple of hours was not an issue when he was a younger dude. Now that he’s a senior with a touch of arthritis, he gets tired and has a hard time standing. It’s difficult to lift his leg, even for a nail trim. This is something to take into consideration.  It’s easy to read Jesse’s signals, so I’ve made adjustments in his style to keep him comfortable during the grooming process.

We are all familiar with the client who brings in a photo of a pet from a calendar or greeting card and asks you for the same trim on Fluffy. The problem is their dog hasn’t visited the groomer in six months. The owner means well by bathing the dog. They try to brush the hair but are unsuccessful. Underneath the fluffy topcoat is matted hair. The best the groomer can do is clip the dog short to start over and explain how important it is to bring the dog in for regular grooming appointments. Offer the pet owner tips on self-care so the trim he/she desires is obtainable.

I’ve been grooming Roxy, the Maltese, for seven years. Due to a back injury that continues to worsen, she is now bathed, dried, and groomed lying down. Groomers need to do what is in the pet’s best interest, whatever the situation might be. Sometimes the simplest trim is the best solution.

What about puppies? They can be a challenge. Sometimes good as gold, other times a whirling dervish. You never know what you are going to get when you see a puppy appointment in your schedule. When you are grooming puppies it is be best to be flexible in your expectations. Explain this to the pet owner. It’s all about the puppy having a good time for his/her grooming experience even if you just accomplish feet, face, and fanny.

Many groomers, including myself, have been in the situation where grooming the dog from the neck down is a cinch. The problem lies in trimming the face. Grooming is a dangerous profession. Our shears are razor sharp; our clippers are powerful. You take your life in your hands when you place your scissors or trimmers next to the corner of the dog’s eye. We work on moving targets and no one wants to have an accident. If grooming tasks cannot be accomplished safely, put the scissors and clippers down and just say, “No.”

I have learned in the last ten years of my mobile business that I cannot groom every dog or cat that stands on my table. Some pets are a better fit for another groomer. Some need to be seen by a mobile, house call, or vet groomer. Some dogs and cats need to be sedated for grooming. There are many variables to take into consideration when grooming pets. The safest effort is always the best outcome.

Communication is key. This is the best time to develop a teamwork grooming approach with Mom and Dad. Discuss the options, and explain what tasks you can and can’t do. Focus on what you can promise: a clean, cute, and happy pet.

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be. She is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming.
For more information go to:

The Bright Future Of Cat Grooming - Groomer To Groomer Magazine - September 2015

Did you know there are between 74 and 96 million pet cats in the United States? Depending on their breed and lifestyle, a percentage of these cats will need professional grooming for a variety of reasons. Many cats do an outstanding job grooming themselves, however, if the cat has emotional or physical issues or is unable or unwilling to self-groom, a skillful and talented pet stylist is crucial to the cat’s general health and well being.

Cats spend about 50% of their day grooming themselves. Kittens learn grooming skills by watching their mother. If Mom is lacking in grooming skills herself, or is uninterested, her babies may lack in the same self-care skills. Kittens begin licking themselves around three or four weeks of age and should be grooming themselves around six weeks. If they are not, their human Mom and Dad might need to step in and assist.

I have always been a huge fan of cat grooming. I saw the need early on in my career. I remember standing in the kitchen with a friend looking at a neighbor’s domestic shorthaired kitty thinking to myself, “That cat is in serious need of a good bath,” as I looked at the kitty’s shedding hair. I envisioned the cat after a brush, bath, and dry in a shiny, clean, sleek coat. Upon suggesting some soap and water and a gentle scrub to Mom I heard a familiar comment, “I did not know cats need to be groomed.”

Yes, they do! 

Some cat owners have looked at me, eyebrows raised, with puzzled and skeptical expressions on their faces when I suggest their cats be groomed. On the other hand, many feline owners are open to this concept, agree, and want to learn more.

Aside from all of the health benefits, going through the grooming process in a positive fashion is good training and exposes the cat to handling skills outside of the norm of petting and snuggles. This is beneficial on many levels. Not only is a clean cat more inviting to caress and pet, the cat understands that being touched in unexpected ways such as brushing, drying, and clipping won’t hurt them. Many cats find they enjoy grooming. This can translate into a more cooperative and friendly cat when visiting the veterinarian or when friends, neighbors, or a pet sitter comes calling.

Cat grooming is growing in leaps and bounds in the grooming industry, but there are still not enough cat groomers to go around. The good news is there are more pet stylists, shop, home, house call, and mobile becoming “cat only groomers” everyday. I think it is very fair that cats have pet stylists totally devoted to them, just like those who only groom dogs.

Jan Lewis-Condo has just opened Grooming Angel Pet Salon, a cats-only grooming shop, due to the overwhelming demand for feline grooming that has grown steadily over the past eight years. She used to dedicate every Sunday exclusively to grooming cats, but it wasn’t enough to fill the need. People would have to wait months to get an appointment, and they did.

Although Jenn Dios is presently grooming dogs and cats, her goal is to make her new mobile grooming business, A Smitten Kitten Mobile Grooming, feline exclusive. She loves seeing kitties in her appointment book. Her specialty is helping cats with issues, such as deshedding or mat removal.  Jenn says, “I have a special understanding of cats. I beam with pride and joy, knowing I can be the one to care for them.”

Cat grooming is best done by a stylist who loves, respects, and understands cats. A cat is not a dog by any means. A cat is groomed on its own terms; like it or not!  Many cat only groomers are “cat people,” and have been that way since they were young. They grew up with cats and had many kitties as pets. Many cat groomers do not groom dogs, nor do they want to. That’s fine with me! I am proud to share the grooming industry with cat groomers because we share the same goal: to keep pets happy and healthy.

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be. For more information go


The Face Of Rescue

The Face of Rescue           

One Saturday afternoon, a customer of vet tech, Justin Leeanders, was running errands. She was driving over a bridge when she noticed a towel that appeared to be moving. She turned around, parked her car, and went to see what it was. Inside the towel was a tiny, emaciated dog. Someone threw the dog over the bridge, into the river, to drown.

This was not to be!

The woman took the little dog to the animal hospital where Justin works. This picture was taken the day she was brought in. She weighed 2.14 pounds after she was shaved, due to matting.

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 7.46.20 PM

When Justin saw this little dog it was love at first sight. He always wanted a rescue yorkie — a match was made. He named her River. With tender loving care, she began to bounce back, gaining a little over a pound in two days. She gained three pounds in one week and her hair began to grow. River was thriving. Justin was over the moon with his new baby.

He took her everywhere.


Where ever she went everyone fell in love with her.


Don’t you just love a happy ending! River, from the river, found a forever home, in the arms of pet stylist Justin Leeanders.

Sandy Blackburn wound up in rescue after her son found a family of orphaned baby opossums in their backyard. Sandy contacted a friend, who is a wild life rehabilitator, for advice.


After falling in love with caring for these babies, Sandy found herself rehabbing a family of baby squirrels. She was hooked!


Then the fun began. Sandy realized this was her calling. She obtained a license in her state as a wildlife rehabilitator. She discovered a non-profit group called Baby Warm. They help rehabbers obtain an incubator to keep the babies warm, as this is a must-have for survival.

When Baby Warm opened a fund for Sandy on the Internet for donations to cover the $450 cost, groomers jumped on this cause and came to her rescue. Sandy had her incubator before she knew it! Sandy now rehabilitates squirrels, opossums, raccoons, and rabbits — just about anything.


Sandy also runs a Facebook page My Little Slice Of Heaven, where she states, “I run an orphanage for wild critters. I do everything in my power to save helpless animals because it’s a life.” The hardest part is losing a baby to the Rainbow Bridge. It’s heartbreaking because every creature she fosters is important to her. Sandy knows there will always be another that needs care.

A new trend that has grown over the years is incorporating rescue into a grooming competition. It all started with Rescue Rodeo at Atlanta Pet Fair in 2010. Now many shows are on board. The concept is brilliant. Producers couple with rescue organizations to bring dogs to the show to help increase their odds of being adopted.

Participants pay a registration fee and a drawing is held. It’s the luck of the draw as to who winds up on your grooming table. All are in desperate need of a bath and haircut. These shelter dogs are truly a classic “before and after.”

NadiaBongelli Nadia

The transformations can be amazing at the hands of a skilled and caring pet stylist. That’s the fun and challenge. Anything goes in the Rescue Rodeo! Lion trim, Asian styling, teddy bear face, lion cut … it’s up to you.  The creative juices flow.

The groomers have a blast! This has gotten so popular that as many as fifty pet stylists groom their fannies off to compete for first place. This is an important cause that is near and dear to everyone’s heart. Those new to competition grooming often jump in and compete for the experience, fun, and camaraderie. Many of the dogs find new homes at the show and go home with a new family. When animal lovers and pet stylists unite and put their heads together everyone wins.

Rescue rodeo after NicoleK

The best part … seeing a snoozing, adorable, adoptable pup on the shoulder of a pet stylist at the conclusion of Rescue Rodeo. Due to Nicole Kallish’s outstanding job, a groomer at the show adopted this little guy. Mission accomplished!

My grooming client Alex Goulet is very special. Losing her seventeen-year-old Border Collie Mix, Rafikki was a heart breaker. I saw Rafikki every six weeks for five years. She was adopted when Alex was in college and was by her side for her wedding and the birth of her three daughters. After Rafikki went to the Rainbow Bridge, Alex could not live without a four-legged friend. It just so happened she had a friend, Tara Nolan, founder of Tails Of Time Dog Rescue. With Tara’s help, Alex became the Mom to not one but two shelter dogs, Pepper and Winfield.


Her family was now complete.

Callie Krakauskas, a family member, got a Dogo Argentino fifteen years ago and fell in love with the breed. She is now the Mom to two rescue dogos, Aspen and Maddox. 


Callie has recently taken over the reigns at DC Dogo. This organization is dedicated to “Rescue and Rehabilitating Dogo Argentinos.” Now that Callie has taken this organization national, it’s growing and operates coast-to-coast, including Alaska. Callie states, “We have rehomed 65 dogs, 30 over the last 12 months.” The deaf male puppy Callie has recently fostered has found a loving home in Pennsylvania.

Pet stylists and animal lovers step up when they see a need, whether it be finding pets a forever home, opening their home to a rescue pet, running a rescue, helping animals heal, or returning them to the wild. There’s no better feeling then helping a four-legged creature “get back on his or her feet.” We are all lucky to have many options. Rescue comes in many shapes and sizes. When you love animals, it’s easy to give back and pay it forward, at the same time.

*Photo credits: Justin Leeanders, Sandy Blackburn, Nadia Bongelli, Nicole Kallish, Alex Goulet, and Callie Krakauskas


Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be. For more information go to:


The Importance Of Drinking Water

The Importance Of Drinking Water

It is common knowledge that water is good for you. Drinking water maintains body fluid balance, helps transport nutrients, and digests food; it protects the spinal cord, prevents headaches, regulates body temperature, and assists in the passage of food. Just the sound of water has therapeutic effects.

I’ve been thinking about water and how important it is that we all drink it. I did some research. Studies suggest adults need eight glasses of water per day for normal activity. It is most important to replenish the water that the body uses everyday because water is fuel for our muscles.

Pet stylists are busy. They do not sit down for a minute! Staying hydrated can have a huge impact on how they feel in the course of a day. Drinking water can help pet stylists think clearer, have more energy, feel happier, and improve their state of mind. It can aid in concentration, helping them to feel refreshed, patient, and alert.

For stylists living in desert and tropical states like Arizona and Florida, drinking water is even more crucial. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates. For mobiles and housecallers, it is important to stay hydrated as they work through the hot summer months and are more affected by the temperatures outdoors.

Water has a long list of benefits. It can help you fight fatigue, prevent pain, and keep your kidneys healthy. Drinking water can help you fight germs, prevent cancer, and flush toxins and fat out of your system. Staying hydrated can result in healthy skin, calorie control, and acts as an appetite suppressant.

Now I have a confession to make. I do not like water.

I knew I had to take some action. I tried everything. Bottled water. Tap water. Ice water. I couldn’t do it. I tried adding packets of unsweetened ice tea, lemonade, and fruit punch. I moved into drinking flavored seltzer. No. Then I found an answer to my problem.

My daughter Blake told me about Soda Stream.

Soda Stream is a small appliance that comes with a carbonating bottle that turns tap water into seltzer. I finally found a type of water I could drink. Problem solved!


Seltzer can also be made the old fashioned way, with a seltzer bottle.


You can find instructions online on how to build a setup to make your own carbonated water at home.

Make Drinking Water Fun And Healthy

 Jazz It Up!

1. Add lemon. Lemons increase your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories and store less fat.

2. Fill a jug with water. Add sliced fruit (citrus or melon) and ice; refrigerate overnight.

 3. Soak pineapple chunks in water for two hours.

4. Make a mash of blueberries or raspberries.

5. Pour in a splash of unsweetened juice.

6. Add fresh mint.

7. Add cucumber slices. Cucumbers are full of antioxidents and may have anti-cancer benefits.

8. Use clementine slices as ice cubes.

9. Add crushed basil leaves.

10. Reserve the water from boiled vegetables and chill overnight.

You can also obtain water from food, not just beverages, so eat fruits and vegetables. Carry water wherever you go as a reminder to keep drinking. Keep a bottle next to your grooming table or in your grooming van.

Drinking water is essential to living and influences 100% of the processes in your body. By the time you experience the sensation of feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. It is important to drink water everyday. In our country water is clean and available. Raise your glass high — cheers, drink to your health!



Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be. She is the author of The Successful Pet Groomer, Go Mobile And Succeed, and 49 Essays On Pet Grooming. For more information go to:

Hair Splinters

Hair Splinters

Hair splinters are an occupational hazard of grooming. It is hard to believe that one pesky little hair can cause so much pain and damage to the skin. Those annoying hairs penetrate the skin and stay there until they are removed.

Removing a hair splinter can be tricky, since hair is so thin. Straighter, coarser hairs are more of problem than fine hairs because of their rigidity. Many splinters may be removed at home with a needle or tweezer. Some hair splinters that are embedded may have to be surgically removed.

The best way to remove a hair splinter is by first inspecting it with a magnifying glass. Look at the size and the angle of the splinter. Then soak it in warm water with Epsom salts for 15 to 30 minutes. This allows the skin to soften. If the hair splinter is embedded in a body part that cannot be soaked, use a hot compress. The softer skin makes the skin more pliable, which may aid in the removal of the splinter. Pull the hair out slowly and gently at the same angle that the hair entered the skin.

To remove the hair splinter use tweezers that have ridges and have been disinfected with alcohol. The ridges and alcohol will actually increase its gripping power.

Hairsplinters tweezers

If removing the splinter is painful you can purchase numbing cream at your pharmacy or online.

Do not apply pressure or squeeze the skin around the hair splinter. If it’s sharp, you could embed it further into the skin. If it is brittle the hair could break apart.

If you are unable to remove the hair splinter with tweezers, you can use a sewing needle. First, sterilize the needle by swabbing it with alcohol. Once the needle has dried, gently pry the splinter out of your skin.

Here is a photo of an infected hair splinter.

HairsplinterAKatrina Frachiseur Sanders
Photo courtesy of Katrina Frachiseur Sanders

If tweezers or needles do not work, here are some additional suggestions:

1. Take a warm bath and scrub the hair splinter with a loofah or pumice stone.

2. Place a piece of duct tape over the hair splinter. Pull it off in the direction of the splinter.

3. White Glue – Use white, non-toxic, white school glue. Spread it on the hair splinter. Let it dry and peel it off in the direction of the splinter.

4. White vinegar or Baking Soda/Water – Submerge the affected area in the white vinegar or baking soda/water for about thirty minutes. You can also try baking soda and water. The splinter may rise to the top for easy removal.

5. Try a drawing salve. This method is painless and takes about one day. Purchase Ichthammol ointment (also known as black drawing salve) over the counter at a pharmacy. They may not have it out on the shelves, but if you ask the pharmacist they usually have it in the pharmacy. You do not need a prescription. Ichthammol can also be found at the feed store in the horse products. Put a small amount of the salve on the splinter and a Band-Aid over the salve. In a day remove the Band-Aid and the splinter may be drawn out of your skin. Be careful not to get the salve on anything, as it is very greasy and can stain. Be prepared – the salve has an unpleasant odor.

Devon Carpenter uses a product called Prid on her hair splinters. This is a homeopathic treatment with the active ingredient ichthammol. She soaks the affected area in warm water to remove as much dead skin as possible before drying. Then she applies the salve and covers it with a Band-Aid. Prid is available at Walgreens, Walmart, and on Amazon.

6. Biore Pore Strips – Biore strips stick to the skin. When removing the strip the pulling motion can help remove the hair splinter.

7. Pour or spray hydrogen peroxide over the hair splinter. When the hydrogen peroxide bubbles up it may force the hair splinter out so it can be removed with tweezers or a needle.

8. An essential oil called Thieves, made by Young Living,  is very effective in helping to draw out hair splinters.

If these options fail it is time to think outside the box. Some of these suggestions might amuse, surprise or make you chuckle.

9. Use a piece of a banana peel covered with a Band-Aid, with the pulp side touching the skin.

10. Place a slice of potato over the splinter for a few minutes or overnight, depending on the size and position of the hair splinter. Cover with a Band-Aid.

11. Place a small piece of bacon over the hair splinter. Cover it with a Band-Aid. It may help the splinter slip out of your skin.

12. Try a poultice of warm bread applied several times throughout the day; this may also be effective in dislodging hair splinters.

13. Apply honey to the surface of the hair splinter, cover it with an adhesive bandage. Leave it in place overnight.

14. Beth Kidd recommends coconut oil. After dealing with an infection from a hair splinter in her nail bed that did not respond to antibiotic cream and drawing salve, she tried coconut oil. Beth applied a dollop of coconut oil, covered it with paper towel and tape and went to bed. In about five days, the embedded dog hair came to the surface and her wound healed. Add this product to the list of fabulous uses for coconut oil!

15. Sabrina Joens uses her Plaq Clnz water pick to remove the hair splinters from under her nails. Sabrina states, "It works great!"

16. Stephanie Salinas scrubs her arms and hands with the green side of a kitchen sponge. This helps a lot!

17. Dana Lamonica places an egg white and a tissue or paper towel on the hair splinter.  She lets it dry and peels it off.

If you are able to remove the splinter, always wash the area with soap and water, apply antibacterial cream, and cover with a Band-Aid until completely healed.

Let’s talk about preventing hair splinters:

Some pet stylists use baby powder or corn starch so hair slips off the skin. “Invisible Gloves” is a hand cream that wraps your hands in a protective layer and protects them from the environment. It is available online. Wear socks and/or protective gloves. Wear smocks that cover the elbows and snap or zip up.

Back View/Photo Courtesy of Tracey Wright

No pre-clipping. Dirty dogs go directly into the tub. Clipping clean hair reduces the chances you will get a hair splinter. Wet clip. Never use your hand or arm to brush dog or cat hair off your grooming table. Use a comb or brush.

Use a vac system. Don’t give those pesky hairs a chance to settle. Watch all of those slivers get sucked from your clippers, directly into a hose and tank, which you empty at the end of the day. This is even more important if you clip in reverse and/or do a lot of shave downs. Barbs on the ends of the hair can result in hair splinters.

Kristin Falterman asked for healing prayers from her fellow groomers on the internet recently. She underwent surgery to remove a mass from her left hand, which was a result of dog hair getting trapped between the webbing of her fingers. Over the last year a hole had appeared in which dog hair was getting stuck while grooming. The result was an infection and surgery from hair splinters.

Photos courtesy of Kristin Falterman

Kristin says, “I would love to be able to help educate others from going through what I did.”

Joy Cummings had the same experience, short of surgery. She got a hair splinter between her nail bed and finger that antibiotics could not cure. She had to have it lanced and then another round of stronger antibiotics. Joy advised, “Do not wait too long if the hair splinter does not seem to get better.”

A groomer even got a hair splinter in her nose, that caused an infection and swelling under her eye. She now wears a mask when grooming.

If you have a pre-existing hole from a hair splinter, discuss it with your doctor. This hole is called a sinus cavity and can get larger. The medical term is Interdigital Pilonidal Sinus. Staph and strep infections can grow inside the hole, cause swelling, and result in surgery.

Take hair splinters seriously. They can develop into a serious infection that can include months of pain, antibiotics, treatment, and even surgery. If you suspect you have one and you cannot remove it yourself, see a physician. Think about preventing hair splinters because if you get one, some will not go away on their own. They will only get worse.

Ellen Ehrlich is a mobile pet stylist who loves to think, talk, read, and write about pet grooming. Next to grooming, Ellen loves to empower, motivate, and inspire other groomers to be the best they can be.