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Grooming Cricket

The trimmer! Grr!

The trimmer! Grr!


Grooming Cricket means taking my life in my hands. She will bite the hand that feeds her if it also tries to remove the goop from her eyes. The breeder who raised Cricket from puppyhood told us that grooming would be no problem. Just buy a man’s electric shaver at the drug store and clip away. Then hold her feet and clip her nails with the special nail clipper. Easy peasy. She even demonstrated the nail clipping on eight week old, two pound Cricket and it was simple. For her.

Just because the trimmer is on the other side doesn't make it less of a monster

Just because the trimmer is on the other side doesn’t make it less of a monster

The first shaver we bought snagged on Cricket’s cottony hair and the motor heated up too quickly and the noise upset her. When I tried to clip her nails she bit me. We bought her a muzzle but she snapped it off her nose in triumph.

Are the scissors any better?

Are the scissors any better?

We took Cricket to a groomer after it became clear that I was not a master with the clippers and she looked like she’d been attacked with a weed whacker. Cricket was frightened as soon as we walked in. I think the other dogs must have been warning her off. She gripped my shoulder with her toenails and didn’t want to be handed off to the lady with the bad disposition behind the counter. I removed her collar and leash, and blushed when the groomer examined the horrible haircut.

I thought I’d feel better back in the car, but I didn’t. I wasn’t happy about leaving Cricket with that woman. Not just because she was a stranger but because if I’d had hair on my back it would all have been standing up.

I had the flutters, like an old fashioned English lady with bad nerves, and I couldn’t leave the apartment again to pick Cricket up two hours later. She came running up the stairs with Mom behind her, and I didn’t recognize my puppy. I sat down on the kitchen floor and held her wiggly body and cried. Blubbered. Threw a tantrum really, because I was afraid I could not love this poodle looking dog.

She looked like a stranger. And she smelled like one of those frou-frou poodles with the pompoms on their asses and she didn’t look like anyone I would know, or like. She didn’t understand why I was reacting so badly. She thought she was still the same dog and I was still the same Mommy and I should have been licking her the way she was licking me (though I’d told her repeatedly that I do not do such things).

My favorite version of Cricket’s haircut is when the hair on her body and face is pretty short, but her ears are long and swing out like wings, just like her Cocker Spaniel mommy. I don’t like when the groomers shave her nose, or leave it round and fluffy like a Bichon. And I don’t like when the hair on her body is long enough to get matted and hide debris in the layers. She doesn’t need a shelf of hair on her forehead or a pompom on her tail. She needs to be well trimmed in the hygienic areas so the poop won’t stick.

Cricket tried a lot of different groomers. There was the one who put purple bows in her hair and didn’t take the hair out of her ears or clean up the “hygienic areas,” and charged us extra because Cricket was so difficult.

Then there was the groomer who was also a vet tech, and managed to cut Cricket’s ear and had to do emergency care to stop the bleeding. Then she nicked her foot as well. We were given a credit for a free haircut with another groomer, but by then Cricket was even more reluctant.

Cricket refuses to look in the mirror after her haircut.

Cricket refuses to look in the mirror after her haircut.

Cricket is legitimately difficult. I’ve watched her at the vet when they try to give her a shot, or, god forbid, clip her nails. She has to be held by two people and she still wiggles and cries and shrieks like she’s being tortured. I don’t know why she’s like this. I’ve worked hard to counteract it. I tried reflexology on her feet to get her used to having her toes touched. And I worked on small grooming tasks at home, paying her for each snip of hair with chicken treats. But she still gets very frightened and very angry. I have to believe some of this is just genetic. But I keep worrying that it’s really all my fault. I didn’t raise her right.

This last time we got a groomer who knew when to push Cricket, and when not to push her. She was the perfect groomer, except that she shaped Cricket’s tail into a pompom, like tiny topiary. After a few weeks it was overgrown and matted, so I cut it off and she’s back to her stumpy-tailed look.

Now that Butterfly is here, I’m hoping that Cricket will learn some better manners. She was so jealous when Butterfly had her bath, that she offered herself up for the second shift in the tub. Peer pressure, you’ve gotta love it.

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

25 responses »

  1. Oh that first shot is so sad. I find that combing often and treats help me get the dogs to calm down, even though I have never had one that ever ever liked to be brushed. Have you tried a groomer that comes to you home so Cricket doesn’t have to go far? If you comb her often and their is something yummy in it, maybe you won’t have to groom at all. Also, I find scissor cutting a lot less stressful on them. Good Luck!

    • She handles the scissors better than the trimmer, but my girl is ornery no matter what you try. She thinks “grooming” is code for “chicken treats” already, I’d have to give her intravenous treats to get them in any faster.

    • Having a groomer that comes to your home won’t solve it. We had one that had her “studio” on a large “trailer” on the back of her truck. Kenzie the Westie (2003-2012) screamed bloody murder and we thought he was getting killed. We couldn’t stand to hear him scream like that and were wondering about out choice. The problem solved itself-the groomer fired Kenzie as a customer. Part of it was that Kenzie “firehosed” the groomer in the face every chance he got (amongs other things). Cricket sounds tame by comparison. We finally got a drill sergeant type and left Kenzie there. Cuts weren’t the greatest but I bet Kenzie toed the line.

  2. “She thinks “grooming” is code for “chicken treats” already, I’d have to give her intravenous treats to get them in any faster.”

    I think you have to make what Cricket is afraid of the predictor of the treat–in other words, it’s not the whole grooming routine; it’s the sight of the scissors that earns the treat (and later the scissor noise, or the scissors getting closer and closer; or, in the case of the trimmer, the sight of it first, then the noise, etc.

  3. Bella HATES the groomer, but she doesn’t fight. She just sits there and stares up at you with the sad puppy eyes (‘Why are you leaving me with this stranger? What did I do?’) and makes you feel really guilty about the whole thing.

  4. I was lucky, I had one dog who bucked like an unbroken bronco when I tried to do her nails, but was docile as a lamb with the vet tech. My other dog was always well-groomed and even clipped on one side — he wouldn’t cooperate and roll to the other side.

  5. Cool, my last post on LifeInLorain was about my dog getting groomed. (More or less.) I didn’t attempt to try it myself though. Like you, it is just not my forte’.

  6. Little white dogs are often difficult to groom. My two previous ones, Rosie and Trixie, were almost impossible, even for the professionals. Chicki is much easier, but still has her sensitive areas such as one particular leg area. You can buy proper, dog-clippers, but you still need to use scissors. You’re very lucky to find the right groomer.

    • The most recent visit to the groomer was the best yet. Some combination of giving Cricket enough doggy Xanax, and the company of her calm sister, and a groomer who knows how to deal with her, all came together in one golden moment. On the other hand, when I tried to check the level of goop build up on her eyes, she bit me on the hand. Maybe I should just drug her breakfast every morning, but then she wouldn’t really be Cricket anymore, and I’d having nothing to write about.

  7. We had a poodle growing up and this brought back memories! She always got bow in her hair at the groomers which she tried most diligently to rub off. I love how she smelled after the “Canine Coifures!” (SP?) She used to eat my crayons whenever I wasn’t watching and this produced most colorful doggie-do! lol~

  8. Just tweeted this and your recent one about hairy dogs. 🙂 Lovely!1

  9. Hi, Rachel! I’ve just tweeted this and five other of your wonderful posts 🙂

  10. Tweeted this and a couple of others today. Merry Christmas…


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