If you want to know what it’s like being a Pet Groomer you’ve come to the right place. I’m a N.D.G.A.A. Certified Professional Dog and Cat Groomer for thirty-five consecutive years. No vacation, no sick pay, no retirement, and if you didn’t know, groomers are commissioned employees. I work hard, real hard, under stressful conditions where my patience is tested to the max, not just some days, but every day.
I’m expected to perform miracles on pets large and small alike that are often unwilling or unable to meet the expectations of their owner’s requests. Some dogs are old and stiff, others can barely stand and are expected by their owners to be tolerant and well behaved for a two hour grooming process.
Cats are brought to me in their elder years for a first time bath and haircut. Of course with some exceptions a task that threatens both mine and the cat’s safety and I end up sending the pet home without being groomed. It seems obvious to me that if a pet owner can’t brush or handle their dog or cat for behavior reasons, I probably won’t have much success either. Groomers are pet stylists; we have no magic wands and our job description does not include being a dog trainer.
There is a rule of sequence followed in the grooming process. It’s seldom veered from so that important grooming necessities are not forgotten, such as nails, or ear cleaning. If they weren’t done it’s highly doubtful it was forgotten and highly probable the well being of the dog was compromised by ill behavior. But kindness and compassion for Fluffy’s terror or my safety is not usually understood or accepted by the pet owner.
It never ceases to amaze me when a pet owner brings me a dog with excessive hair on their face with a big bushy matted beard and tells me to be sure and get the face as short as possible, then tells me “Oh be careful he bites and will need to be muzzled.” Did it ever occur to them that it would be impossible to brush out or shave the face with a muzzle on? I have to find a way to get the job done while dodging a dog with vicious intentions. At the same time, not injure him with a razor sharp blade attached to a clipper running at 4,400 strokes per minute. It is times like these that I have to decide if the argument is a necessary struggle for the well being of the pet. If it is, then I consider it my job to make an honest effort to accommodate the owners request and help make the pet comfortable. Should this cost more? A bite from even a small dog to the hand can put a groomer out of work for weeks. Scissor work is a skillful art, and not at all possible with an injury. I mentioned that groomers are commissioned workers; if they can’t work they don’t get paid plain and simple. So yes, difficult, hard to handle, aggressive dogs, all have a risk factor to consider and are more expensive.
Fifty dollars is the average price to have a medium size dog groomed. This price is not set in stone and can vary depending on the condition of the pet. Grooming is a luxury service, a pet that is groomed every six weeks and is maintained at home is usually very accepting of grooming and leaves the salon perfectly groomed. However, the backyard Shepherd mix that hasn’t seen a brush for six months and is a matted mess with a poop pancake the size of Texas under his tail is a bit more spendy. This is a daily norm, a long process, not at all easy, and every bit worth seventy five dollars, or more. I’m often told that the price of grooming is too high, many clients tell me they don’t even pay that much to have their own hair done. I think it’s a safe bet to say that if a hair stylist had to pick massive wads of eye crud from their clients eyes, remove sludgy ear hair, squeeze anal glands, shave private parts, clip toenails, do a full body hair cut while the client was trying to bite her hand off, would indeed charge substantially more. Not to mention their clients don’t need to be walked outside so they don’t poop or pee on themselves before they go home. Mine do, and not just once, my customers often leave their dog with me to care for all day while they are at work.
Grooming is a tough, dirty and demanding job that’s extremely physical and mentally exhausting, but there’s still nothing else I’d rather do, and that’s the doggone truth.