Tue Cute Tuesday – Primped and Pretty for BlogPaws

Freshly Bathed and Groomed Golden Retriever

Hurry up and admire me. I'm not planning on staying this clean for long.

In the more than 20 years I’ve had dogs, I’ve never been to a professional groomer. As I noted yesterday, I’ve always had low-maintenance dogs–an occasional bath, a brush and a nail trim was all I ever had to do.

Reluctant Groom

I’ve been ambivalent about going to a groomer. And reading about the recent death of a dog at the grooming component of a national retailer fed my reluctance. But for years, I’ve heard local dog friends raving about Nancy at the Grooming Room. And I feel very fortunate that despite my procrastination, Nancy was able to fit Honey in for a much-needed grooming.

Socialization – You Can’t Cover Everything

Long term readers know that we’ve worked very hard to socialize Honey from puppyhood to a wide variety of experiences. And Honey is comfortable with being brushed or bathed and doesn’t put up a fuss for a nail trim.

But a professional grooming includes some experiences we’ve missed exposing Honey to: noisy dryers and a wiggly grooming table among them. Luckily, Nancy made Honey’s comfort her highest priority.

Golden Retriever in Turquoise Bandana

Y'know, I think I look quite pretty without this bandana. I'll just flick it off real quick.

A Groom With a View (to what’s important)

Nancy spent time at the beginning playing with Honey and making friends. She explained every thing she was doing to Honey (whether Honey understood is up for debate but I think intention counts for something).

Yes, it was nice that Nancy knew what a Golden Retriever’s jodhpurs and paws were supposed to look like. And that she went looking for all the vulnerable spots where mats form in the fur. And I appreciate how much hair got sucked up in the vacuum around the grooming table instead of going home with Honey and me.

But the best part of the experience was that Nancy cared more about making Honey comfortable with her first total grooming than in making her look like a show dog. And that’s a sign of someone who really “gets” dogs.

I think Honey agrees. Especially since it meant she didn’t have to get her ears blown dry.

When you need someone to provide a service for your dog (petsitting, walking, grooming, vet care), what do you look for? How do you know the person is doing a good job?

Golden Retriever tail

Just wanted you to see my tidy jodhpurs and floofy tail.

FTC Stuff – Although I didn’t set out to write a service review, this post sounds like one because I was so happy with my experience at the Grooming Room. But I did not receive any compensation for writing a positive review; I simply wanted to share my experience.

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  1. Honey rocks! No poodle cut? :)

  2. She looks gorgeous!! I have taken Cali to a groomer on a couple of occasions – but, the last time I took her, she fought me to go in and that was the last time I did it. I’m sure she was traumatized by all of the noise . .she’s a sensitive girl!! (now I am the only one that tortures her with grooming!!) I’m so happy you and Honey had a great experience!!

  3. I am so glad you experience was so positive! Nancy sounds like the kind of person I would expect a groomer to be. Kind, professional, and enjoys being around animals. That last one is so key and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to even be universal with people in animal related industries. That’s the biggest thing for me: does the person very obviously care about and enjoy being around dogs? Do their eyes light up, do they smile, do they naturally crouch down to the dog’s level? If the person seems at all uncomfortable or unsure, they probably are not going to do a very good job or make my dog very happy.

    Honey looks fantastic. Do you think she’ll be able to maintain this model-look for the conference?

    • I got to see the bad example when I was looking for instructions on You Tube to groom Honey myself. Some of the groomers treated the dog as if he was just meat to be moved around a plate. It definitely contributed to my reluctance.

      I seriously doubt Honey will look so pretty for long. The first game of bitey face in the doggy day care area will probably do her in. :)

  4. I am so glad you found a groomer like that! I have just been lamenting with a dog trainer friend that too many groomers just focus on getting the job done, with no clue about the slow counterconditioning and desensitization work that is so important to help dogs get through a trip to the groomer without trauma.

    And its great to hear that that was the most important thing to you too!

    • It’s crazy to think of groomer’s not taking their time to make a dog comfortable with their work. Of course it’s not good for the dog. But it can’t be much fun for a groomer either. You either put in the time up front or you put it in every time you have to wrestle a dog to accept your work.

      Of course most of us don’t do what’s in our best interests, do we?

  5. Sounds like a real gem. When I am looking at professionals to work with our Chick (vets, dog walkers, etc) I look primarily to him. I want to see how he reacts to them. Secondarily, I look at them and how they interact with him. If he’s being too pushy, are they firm but gentle? If he’s nervous or shy, do they give him the space he needs to relax before moving forward?
    I wish he could hire his own vet and dog walker, but since he can’t, it’s my responsibility to make sure that we pick one who is good with him in addition to being good at their job. Honey looks beautiful, by the way :)

    • You make a good point about if Chick is “too pushy.” I think some dog pros (particularly vets) hate to have people around because so many people object to someone being “firm” with their dog.

      While we need to advocate for our dogs, it’s also important that we don’t get in the way of someone doing what’s important for them.

      I felt very lucky when Nancy said I could sit in the grooming area while she was working with Honey. Not a lot of folks would take the risk of being observed by a crazy dog mom. :)

  6. I’m glad you and Honey had such a positive experience. I cannot stand going into a grooming facility and hearing the dogs howling because they are stuck in crate or in a drying box.

    When I am looking for someone to interact with my dogs, I observe how they are with their dogs and other dogs. I would never leave them with someone I and they weren’t comfortable with.

    She looks beautiful!

    • The Grooming Room doesn’t have a drying box. I think the main purpose of such a thing is to maximize profit so you can have one dog drying while you’re beginning to work on another one.

      While I am happy to see someone who is good at her job making decent money, I get very worried when I see too many “maximizing profit” measures.

  7. Honey looks great! The tail and “pants” look really well done (JF gets that same “curved” tail from his groomer). Speaking of, glad you found a good one. I hear so many bad stories. :( I am fortunate that JF’s groomer works PT out of my small-town, country vet’s office (and she came recommended). She takes lots of time with JF and me (before the groom) and he really seems to like her. I’d even forgive her for cutting his “pants” too short as long as his tail was wagging while she did it. :)

    I think it’s no different than bedside manner with human doctors. I tend to avoid those in the pet-service industry – who don’t have one – like the plague.

    • “I’d even forgive her for cutting his “pants” too short as long as his tail was wagging while she did it.”

      BOL. At least you have your priorities straight, Elizabeth! :)

  8. I think Honey always looks pretty, but she does look especially nice this time! I think you summed up what to look for in a person who takes care of your dog very well. I want somebody who cares about my dog and her needs, and somebody I see my dog looking comfortable with. I’ve heard too many horror stories involving Greyhounds at groomers to feel comfortable with leaving mine with one unless there were a dire circumstance. I have read of several Grehounds dying in those dryers, and I’d never risk it.

    • You’ve written a succinct manifesto for anyone looking for a pet service provider: “I want somebody who cares about my dog and her needs, and somebody I see my dog looking comfortable with.”

      Very nicely put.

  9. Congrats on finding a good groomer. Hold on to her, the good ones are hard to come by! We went through *four* groomers for our fluffy boy, Felix before we found our (amazing) groomer. The first brought me the wrong dog *twice* when we came ton pick Fe up, the second left razor burn all over his sensitive spots, the third was not a fan of animals and upon arrival at the fourth, I found a small fluffy boy wandering the parking lot. Seems he had gotten loose and no one had noticed. Our groomer now is awesome (thank goodness).

    PS – Honeybdarling, you loook stunning.

  10. I’m really impressed to hear about your experience with Nancy. And it sounds like she let you stay there through the groom? Really sounds like a one in a million groomer and I would hang on to her for dear life. Having a Poodle and ten years of experience dealing with groomers, I have to say that you’ve hit a gold mine. I’m quite sure (though never proven) that some groomers have drugged my dog, they’ve cut him, burned him, left him in a cage for hours, not to mention the horrific haircuts he’s endured. Those are all reasons why I cut him myself now (not to mention saving the $70-90 they ask for a Poodle cut).

    I was actually thinking about holding a “click to groom” class with a local groomer for puppies and adult dogs. Not sure if it will come to fruition, but it was always a fun idea

    • I think a “click to groom” class is a great idea. I wonder if you’d have many takers?

      • The groomer I spoke to said that she has a lot of “difficult” clients who would really benefit from it, and I think people with high maintenance puppies would be interested in getting pups off on the right foot, especially if the groomer pushes it. The only problem is that the groomer works for a company who’s owner is a serious PITA and might cause me a lot of problems trying to get it set up.

  11. She’s a beauty! The boys go to the “day spa” every two weeks, as nothing beats a clean, sweet smelling, soft, fluffy golden. :)

    • Ah, so that’s your secret. Zachary and Henry always look perfectly groomed. I wasn’t sure how you found the time to take the great photos!:)

  12. What a wonderful ‘dog-mum’ you are, Pamela. You are the owner every caring dog breeder dreams of having their precious pups live with and share their life with. And it sounds like you’ve found an equally wonderful groomer for Honey. More power to both of you!

    And Honey looks fantastic:)

    • Ooh, thank you, Sue. Honey’s breeder spent a lot of time “auditioning” us to get one of her pups. I felt very lucky to be chosen. :)

  13. Mike Webster says:

    A Groom with a View!? A GROOM WITH A VIEW??!!?

  14. Honey looks quite lovely! I’m sure you will both have a marvelous time at BlogPaws!

  15. Nancy is truly “good people.” She responded to an ad I placed and ended up becoming a foster home for my cat rescue (she also fosters for Cayuga Dog Rescue and has done a lot of shy dog work with the Tompkins Co SPCA). She ended up adopting a special needs kitten from me a number of years ago (Gizmo had a bad eye, was recovering from wounds, and had a real attitude). Since then Nancy has always been there whenever we have a project or need help, and she also has provided a home for a feral cat named Handsome who showed up in her yard. He is now neutered and snoozing in the house and is quite chubby! Thanks for supporting her! Have a good time at BlogPaws and stop by the Petfinder booth to say hi to Jane for me!