Grooming: It Always Grows Back

grooming a long hair catWhen my daughter was fifteen, she came home with her head shaved.  When we asked her why she did it, she said, “I was just tired of the whole hair thing.”

Ever feel this way as a pet owner?  I know that when I was selecting the breeds of our current pets, I passed on the beautiful collie and the sweet looking ragdoll, because I knew I’d never find the time for all…that…brushing.

But for those that can’t resist the pull of a long haired pet, there’s always the groomer, right?  Sure!  Except, turns out choosing a groomer is just as hard as finding yourself that perfect hairdresser.  We’ve read dozens of bad grooming stories all over the internet.  We also talked to some groomers.  Then we compiled this list of things to know and look for if you’re thinking about trusting your fur baby to a grooming professional.

1.)    Call for an appointment.  Don’t just show up in a hurry.  (In a really good salon, people schedule appointments.  Period.)

2.)    Be polite.  I know, most of you would never think of being rude.  But this happens to groomers so often, it made the list.

3.)    Let them know on the phone about any health issues your pet has: recent surgeries, allergies, etc.  I work in a medical office and I can tell you that you’d be surprised at how important these things can be, even if you don’t think they can possibly affect anything.

4.)    Don’t lie.  Tell them if the pet has fleas.  They can deal with it, but do them the courtesy of NOT infesting their facility or other pets.

5.)    Tell them if your dog has special quirks: doesn’t like its nails or ears trimmed, is afraid of the dryer, etc.

6.)    Advise them of recent home environment changes or stresses—sick family members, additions to the family, etc.  Pets are very sensitive to changes in their families, and alerting groomers ahead of time can save them getting a nasty bite if the pet is just stressed.

7.)    Be clear and honest about what you want.  The number one complaint in bad grooming stories is the pet owner did not get what they asked for.  This can happen for many reasons: instructions passing through many people before getting to the actual groomer, pet owners asking for harmful things (such as a groomer friend asked to shave a dog down in the blasting heat of summer, risking him being sunburned), or groomers who have had SO many cases of people NOT really wanting what they ask for that they’re actually afraid to follow instructions!

8.)    Always leave a phone number where you can be reached right away.  Groomers rarely need to use this, but if they do, you want to be available.

9.)    Listen to the groomer’s advice after the visit, and ask questions about home grooming.

Also be aware that…

Most states require rabies vaccines by law, prior to grooming—and some salons require proof of even more vaccines.  On every call, you should check to make sure they have your dog’s most recent records on file.  Salons will turn you away when you arrive if the pet’s documents are not in order.

Certain issues increase price, such as:

1.)    Matting (severe matting can only be removed by a vet)

2.)    Fleas

3.)    Bad behavior

grooming a long hair dogWhat you can do at home, prior to your pet’s grooming visit:

Prevent matting—you cannot brush your long haired pet too often.  Good places:

  • Behind the ears
  • The rear end
  • Under the collar
  • The butt
  • The legs
  • Anywhere the hair is rubbed together or gets petted often

To prevent behavior problems:

  • Touch their feet and nails
  • Touch their undercarriage and legs
  • Expose them to a dryer/vaccuum
  • Touch them with the handle of an electric toothbrush or razor (vibration)
  • Bring them for grooming more often, even if just for a quick nail trim.

If you sometimes groom your pet at home, try clipping a nail and then feeding your pet a treat. Clip another nail or two and feed another treat. In this way, pets learn that grooming is just part of your love for them.

A word about biting:  Tell the groomer if your pet bites.

And don’t think your pet won’t.  I can tell you from experience that some of ours have.  Behaviorists know that being physically restrained (even in human children) activates the emotional fear and rage system in most animals.  It just does.  If your groomer is bitten, they are required by law to report your pet.  If you let them know in advance this could happen or you’re not sure, they can help prevent it.

Why you are not allowed “back there”:

Many salons now offer a window where you can watch the grooming happen.  However, groomers do not encourage owners being in the room with them because pets (much like human children, I’m told by child care experts) behave differently when owners are present.  Our Brittany, Castle, for instance, cries aloud in the presence of my husband when the vet walks into the room to give her a shot, but before the woman has even touched her.

And, one way that salons keep the cost of grooming reasonable is by not paying for insurance so you can go “back there”.  Pets are often worked by several groomers at once in a rotation, depending on the stage of their visit.  Add an owner to this orderly mix and you can imagine the problems that could ensue.

grooming a long hair cat profileSo—what ever happened about my daughter’s hair?  It grew back, of course.  Despite all of this, you could still have a bad grooming visit.  But guess what?  Hair grows back.  It always grows back.

   Joy Jones is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Anderson, Ohio.  When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column called The Midwestern Buddhist as well as urban fantasy and humor.  You can e-mail her at as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Greyhounds: You Are The One

a greyhound track view inside“I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin… I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.”

“Why do my eyes hurt?”
“You’ve never used them before.”

–The Matrix

“Compassion is most important for happiness. We must treat fellow human beings as equal, that is very important, but also all beings who have capacity for feeling. So the innate desire for happiness that is the basis of human rights extends to all sentient beings, including animals and insects.”

–The Dalai Lama

When our greyhound, Seba, first came home—they call it “going into retirement”—I learned they must be taught about things like stairways, glass doors and shiny floors. Previously, this has not been part of their life experience. At the time, I quipped, “Wow, it’s like we just unplugged her from The Matrix.”

Greyhound racing began in 1912 when the mechanical lure was invented. Today, tracks still operate in seven US states (Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Texas, Florida, West Virginia and Iowa)—despite well publicized reports of animal cruelty, poor care and restricted daily lives of the dogs. How is this allowed to go on, you ask? One word: money. And lots of it.

When I was deciding which greyhound would be right for us, I was provided a link to Seba’s pedigree. Curious about her parents, I came across a photo of her father wearing a banner showing that he had won $50,000 for his owners in a race. That’s when I really got it—these dogs are nothing more than money makers.

Much like in the fictional Matrix, tens of thousands of greyhounds are bred each year for one purpose: to energize a “winning” bloodline. Their racing careers are generally over at four years, but they may be kept longer if they are fast or killed by the track at any age if they are injured or lack racing potential.

Seba was rescued at less than two years. I believe she was retired because she prefers to stay with the pack when running instead of lead it to the finish. But for every dog that comes home, thousands more are still killed each year—often by gunshot, bludgeoning, abandonment, and starvation. Only a few are humanely euthanized by a vet.

Those that are allowed to live and race spend most of their lives in cramped crates. Their kennels are not climate controlled, so they suffer from heat and cold exposure. They are fed raw 4D meat (this is meat from dying, diseased, disabled and dead livestock) and are hosed down, not given baths. They are infested with ticks.

It is unclear how many of these dogs are still destroyed each year because there are not enough homes to accept them. Current estimates range from 3,000 to 8,500. This includes culled puppies and “retirees” who were not rescued. They may be sold to research labs, used for breeding or sent to foreign racetracks with even more appalling conditions.

Unlike animal breeding, zoos, circuses, and animal transportation via airlines—greyhound racing is not governed by the federal Animal Welfare Act. The Humane Society of the US investigates industry abuses and initiates legislation to ban greyhound racing. But they need your help. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Tell everyone.
  2. Consider a greyhound if you are interested in adopting a companion animal.
  3. If you can’t adopt, volunteer your time or donate to a rescue organization.
  4. If you live in a state that operates greyhound racing tracks or your state has not yet banned it (Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Oregon or Wisconsin) write to your state officials. Contact The HSUS for model legislation to ban greyhound racing.
  5. Distribute copies of this web page:

Greyhound Racing: Death in The Fast Lane

seba 300Every time I look at Seba, out in the back yard tossing a toy around and running to catch it, leaping about like a happy gazelle, she makes my heart sing. Every dog should have this life. And just like Neo of The Matrix, YOU ARE THE ONE who can make that happen.

Don’t give up—for all their sakes.

Author’s Note, 10/15/15–Have a first hand perspective of a greyhound track, positive or negative?  Please send us your assenting or opposing article.

 Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is the Vice President of Your Pet Space, a cage free dog boarding facility serving the greater Las Cruces, NM area.  She is also a  syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave. When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.