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Heidi Anderton of BIGA and Absolutely Animals London School of Pet Grooming writes:
On the 22nd September 2022 we went to the Groomania grooming competition for a long weekend which also hosted the World's grooming competition. We drove from London the short distance to the euro tunnel, 30 minutes on the train, and then 1.5 hours to Kortrojk in Belgium.
I do so love this competition, the travelling and meeting other groomers from across the world; new and current.
Anyone who competes at this competition from the UK should be proud of themselves as there is a lot of preparation and the nerves can get the better of you, but it's still definitely worth the trip. I hope to see more UK groomers there next year - it’s worth the effort.
Huge congratulations to Groom Team England for their amazing win which really made the weekend.
Eight simple ways to stop your dog being jealous of your partner
Advice from Laura Campanella Styling Director and Head Teacher at Groomarts Dog Grooming Academy in St. Alban's, Hertfordshire
Finally getting the four-legged friend you’ve always dreamed of is a special feeling, from buying all of their toys to preparing a space for them in their new home. More people have experienced it recently, as 2020 saw a surge in those seizing the opportunity to take on a puppy – and this trend looks set to continue.
Whilst giving love and attention to our dogs is key to helping them develop and settle into the family, the other side of the coin is that, according to experts, many breeds of dogs find it difficult to step back from people they form a strong bond with, and are therefore prone to jealousy when their owners’ attention is diverted.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, and many couples having to create a romantic setting at home this year, how can you identify when a dog might be jealous of your partner? Laura Campanella, owner of GroomArts Academy, a successful independent pet styling school in St. Albans, who has over 25 years of experience in dog care and pet welfare, explains more.
Destructive behaviour, like scratching the sofa or chewing on your slippers, shouldn’t be a habit you have to put up with just because you have a pet. Try not to get angry when your dog destroys household items, and remember that this behaviour is often caused by feelings of neglect.
How you should respond
A behaviour like chewing is normal for dogs of all ages, as it helps strengthen their jaw and keep their teeth clean. However, provide your dog with objects to chew on or that they can be rough with that aren’t your own possessions or furniture. Supervise your dog during times of the day when they are drawn to destroying household items, in order to guide them towards more appropriate objects to use as an outlet.
Also, avoid giving them unwanted household items to chew on like old shoes as this can add further confusion as to what is and isn’t okay to chew.
From simple tricks to sitting on demand, to roll overs and two-legged stands, both dog owners and pups love to show off what they are capable of. However, if you find your dog regularly showcasing their skills unprompted, especially when you’re busy with another task, this is a sign that they are jealous.
How you should respond
Rewarding your dog for tricks is a great way to reinforce their positive behaviour in response to your commands. However, in order to avoid your dog crossing the line from performing tricks to engaging in attention-seeking antics, make sure you only reward the former, so your dog understands where the boundary is.
Whining for attention
Whining is a way for your dog to vocalise something they are feeling, and is especially common in young puppies who are learning the best ways to communicate. In some moments it may be harder to decipher the reason than in others.
How you should respond
In order to change your dog’s habit of whining to gain your attention, you need to support them in learning that remaining quiet is a better strategy. Calm yet clear body language such as turning away from your dog or crossing your arms can help them understand this.
If you notice that your dog is spending an excessive amount of time cleaning themselves, then this could be a way to identify their feelings of jealousy. Dogs deal with emotions surrounding insecurity through grooming, by physically paying attention to themselves to fill a gap being left by neglectful owners. Experts also suggest that it can be linked to boredom or frustration.
How you should respond
If you feel that your dog’s self-cleaning is getting out of hand, gently and quickly redirect their attention to a toy or positive activity. Ensuring you are swift and consistent with this positive reinforcement is key to altering your dog’s habits for the long term.
Just like humans, every dog expresses emotions in different ways. While some dogs may become overassertive, others will retreat into themselves by withdrawing from your company.
If your dog is usually affectionate and excitable, yet seems to have become more timid lately, then this could be because the presence of another loved one is making them feel left out.
How you should respond
You can gradually bring them back out of their shell by rewarding positive behaviour and gently encouraging them to get involved in activities that you know they love, such as a walk round their favourite park.
Picture the scene. It’s Valentine’s evening. You’ve turned on some atmospheric mood lighting, hit play on your favourite album and ordered a takeaway. You’re expecting the dog to eat from their own food bowl, or maybe sit in his favourite spot.
Just as you’re tucking in, your dog begins whining and jumps up onto your lap, asserting their presence in a way you can’t ignore. If your dog fails to respect the rules they’ve been trained to follow, such as remaining away from the dinner table, then this can be a sign that they feel you’re not giving them enough attention.
How you should respond
To set boundaries with your puppy so that they understand their position within the family unit, you can provide the puppy with certain things that are theirs, for example, a dedicated bed and food bowl, and outlining areas that are not for them, such as your dinner plate and the bed.
This can include threatening barking, snarling or repeated biting. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the distressing and often dangerous implications of this behaviour, reflect on when moments of aggression tend to take place. Are there any common patterns or triggers?
How you should respond
By making an effort to include your dog in activities you engage in with a loved one, you can prevent potential aggressive episodes before they happen. Be firm and consistent in your attitudes and reward positive behaviours to reinforce them. If your dog’s aggressive behaviour becomes difficult to manage and a danger to themselves and those they live with, then you can seek a qualified professional to help.
Going to the toilet indoors
When dogs fail to go outside to do their business, they are typically responding to their own feelings of stress, a change in schedule, ageing or other medical issues. They could also be showing jealous emotions towards your partner.
Although this behaviour is extremely frustrating, especially if you’ve already put plenty of time and effort into training your dog properly, they may still resort to these sorts of actions if their frustration or jealousy reaches a certain level.
How you should respond
If you do find that your dog has defecated inside, expressions of pure anger through a telling off can serve to make the situation worse by instilling further anxiety and stress in your dog. If you approach the issue in a firm yet understanding way, by communicating in a serious tone with your dog without furiously shouting, you can help prevent it happening again. Constant supervision and patience is key in reestablishing good habits.
Seven Ways to get your pets involved this Christmas
Advice from Laura Campanella Styling Director and Head Teacher at Groomarts Dog Grooming Academy in St. Alban's, Hertfordshire
The festive period is a time to express gratitude, bond and make memories with your loved ones. For pet owners, furry friends unquestionably qualify as a loved one - 95% of dog owners and 93% of cat owners agree that owning their pet makes them happy, according to veterinary charity PDSA’s recent report. With this year having been a particularly tough one for all, involving your pets in traditional Christmas activities is a fantastic way to strengthen your connection with them.
Why should we consider our pets’ wellbeing at Christmas?
This year’s pandemic kickstarted a new wave of first-time pet owners, who will be celebrating Christmas with their latest family additions. Whilst Christmas is a welcome break from the usual routine for us, this can have the opposite effect on our pets, making it a stressful time for cats and dogs. When pets act up at Christmas, it could be a sign that they are feeling anxious or scared, even though new owners may attribute their disruptiveness to simple bad behaviour.
The RSPCA have already expressed their fears of a rise in pet abandonment, which calls for a reiteration of how to smoothly integrate pets into family activities this Christmas, while keeping them calm and content.
One of the UK’s best and most loved groomers, Laura Campanella, who is Styling Director and Head Teacher at GroomArts, is passionate about educating new owners on how to look after their pets’ needs and why this is more important than ever before. Here she shares her advice on how to safely integrate your pets into this year’s festivities - by addressing anxious behaviours early so you can do the right things to make your pet feel happy and comfortable.
Laura comments on the importance of making pets feel included in Christmas festivities: “Sometimes dogs can be nervous at Christmas time because it’s a period where routines tend to change. Pets are part of the family so it is important to include them in the festivities so they won’t be sad. Every year when Christmas is coming and we buy gifts for ourselves, we like to buy something similar for our pets. It can be a special Christmas biscuit, a Christms toy or any special gadget. When our dog is happy the owner feels happy too!”
Laura has drawn on her expertise in animal behaviour and grooming to put together a list of effective ways to include your pet in your family Christmas fun that are safe and reliable.
Include them in your meal-time
Christmas Day is famous for indulging in a big meal with your friends and family accompanied by sweet treats and festive recipes. Use this as an opportunity to treat your pet with a luxurious meal so they can take part in the festive magic along with the whole family. However, beware that certain festive foods can be dangerous for pets to consume, such as chocolate and currants, which are toxic for pets, and turkey bones, which can splinter whilst being chewed, risking damage to your pet’s throat or stomach. By being clued up on what foods are safe to feed your pets, you can ensure their overall health and mood remains positive this Christmas.
Additionally, it may help to create a space for your pet to escape to for some peace and quiet if they get too over-excited at the table - lots of new people combined with strange decorations can impact their typical levels of calm, so allowing them to have a break from this can help restore their composure.
Make a Christmas card together
Getting stuck into some arts and crafts is even more fun when you get your pet involved! Making a Christmas card with your pet is a great opportunity to bond with them and strengthen your connection as companions. Stick to using dog-safe materials - avoid glitter, toxic glue and permanent paints, and this activity will provide a simple way to include your pet in something festive. Laura Campanella has created a tutorial on how to safely create a Christmas card with your dog so you can both follow along in the video.
Commenting on this activity, Laura states: “Pets are part of the family, so of course when we create a card to send to our loved ones it’s great to include our pets too. The other benefit is that you can have fun with your dog and build a stronger relationship with them.”
Treat them to some grooming
Over the festive season we all like to treat ourselves to a spot of grooming, and this applies to our pets too. Earlier this, Pets at Home announced that 316 of their grooming salons groomed more than 27,000 dogs in the week before Christmas, hitting a peak on Christmas Eve. This data highlights the importance that owners like to make sure their dogs are looking their best for the family photos. Additionally, this is particularly important during winter with it being muddier outside - a nice warm bath is a great way to clean their fur and keep it free from mats and knots, keeping the quality of their coat in immaculate condition.
Some breeds with very short hair may not need traditional brushing, and you can instead buy a grooming glove that gently removes loose hair. When to brush depends on the type of dog. Dogs with short, dense hair like a husky can generally be brushed fortnightly as opposed to long-haired dogs who will probably need to be brushed weekly to prevent the coat from becoming tangled.
Take them on a family stroll
Wrapping up in your best woolly gear and going for a long family walk is a wholesome Christmas activity for everyone to get involved in, including your pup. When most festivities involve relaxing and lounging around at home, allowing your pet (as well as yourself!) to get active and take in the outdoors is essential to maintaining your overall sense of wellbeing over the festive period. This could involve embarking on a tour of the best local Christmas decorations, exploring a nearby nature spot or going to your pet’s favourite play location.
Play dress up together
Mintel research reveals that 30% of millennial pet care purchasers say they like their pet to keep up with the latest trends (eg. clothes, grooming styles), which equates to an average of one in five (19%) buyers. The key things to consider when dressing up your pet is whether they can move properly, are able to communicate or and do not seem stressed (which they may express by licking their lips or panting). As well as this, be aware of any potential choking hazards and try not to leave them alone whilst in their costume.
Ultimately, when done safely this activity can be a fun and light-hearted experience for you and your pet. Laura has created a tutorial on how you can ensure this activity is carried out in the best way possible. Laura says, “If you think this activity will help you have fun with your pet then it is good to start doing this with them when they are young so it becomes natural for them. I have a fox terrier who I have just bought a Christmas jumper because it keeps him warm. When we go for a walk in the cold and I call him with the jumper in my hand he comes to me as if he’s excited to put it on as- he is more than comfortable with it.”
Have a photoshoot with them
Immortalise the special memories you are making by taking some adorable images of your pet integrating with the rest of the family. You can increase the chances of your pet being comfortable with this by making sure you avoid using a flash. Also, try and capture the authentic moments without forcing your animal into any unnatural positions. Tips for making sure these photos look as professional as possible include getting on their level, playing with different angles and using props.
Decorate the tree
This one’s for the cats! There are a few things to bear in mind when you decorate your tree so that it is a safe and fun experience for your pet. Setting up the tree a few days before decorating gives your cat a chance to familiarise themselves with it and investigate the new addition to your home. Gather together some cat-friendly ornaments and give your pet something to play with whilst you decorate the tree with your cat having fun by your side. Take note that tinsel poses a hazard for cats, with the risk of them chewing and choking on it. Other pretty decor options include paper or felt decorations, which are less tempting to kitties compared to the shiny stuff.
When attempting these activities with your pets, Laura added: “The younger your pets are the happier they will feel with being bought out of their comfort zone each year. This way, it will become natural for them and they will look forward to it as much as you will”.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Business Closures:
Key Tips to Help You Manage Your Finances and Your Customers
BIGA would like to thank all our Volunteers who have made the time and effort to support the pet grooming community in these turbulent times. They have shown true patience and sensitivity listening to, and addressing, all concerns. Their chief aim has been to support each and every groomer by sharing the latest information from Government as we receive it and constantly driving home BIGA’s advice to all groomers: Follow all Government Advice. Stay At Home. Protect The NHS. Save Lives.
In the spirit of helping us all remain united and strong during this time, another of BIGA’s Volunteers has created and shared the following KEY TIPS TO HELP YOU MANAGE YOUR FINANCES AND CUSTOMERS during your business closure. Thank you Alex Mould of iPet Network / Four Paws Grooming School.
There are many helpful budget planners online to guide you on the most effective way to plan your budget for the upcoming months. This will be a great help to balance your finances and help you decide whether you can actually afford to pay all of your bills, or not, and if you will require additional financial support.
Check with your insurance company to see if you are covered to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.
Check whether your insurance covers you for any of the following:
• Payment protection insurance
• Mortgage payment protection insurance
• Accident, sickness and unemployment insurance
These types of insurance are often offered with life insurance policies or mortgages and it’s easy to forget you have them!
Gas and Electric
You may have trouble paying your gas or electricity bill. Find a recent copy of your bill for details of the number to call to talk to your provider. They will be able to tell you about ways you can make affordable repayments and they should also check if you’re on the best tariff for your needs. You may even find a cheaper tariff or provider!
Whatever your situation, now is a good time to think about switching as you could get a better deal with another energy company.
Water companies in England and Wales have put extra support in place if you’re worried about paying your water bill because your income has reduced because of coronavirus.
Support will depend on your circumstances and includes:
• Payment breaks or payment holidays
• Special schemes, such as social tariffs
• Adjusting your payment plan to cope with a drop in household finances
Commercial Rent / Business Premises
Consider asking your landlord for a rent-free period. Reach out pro-actively. We have already heard of businesses having success simply by asking.
Mortgage lenders have announced support if you have to take time off work because of coronavirus, including a repayment holiday of up to three months. This includes buy-to-let mortgages.
The government has announced emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation during the coronavirus crisis.
Your landlord will not be able to apply to the court to start possession proceedings until you have missed rent payments for at least three months.
Instalments and arrears Council Tax is a yearly charge normally paid in ten monthly instalments, starting in April. You can request to pay the charge over 12 instalments, which will reduce the monthly payments, but you must contact your local council to do this. You may also be able to request to delay the start of the 10 months to save money now, for the next two months.
Local councils are writing to all businesses that they believe are eligible for a business support grant. If you receive a letter, you will need to complete a Coronavirus Business Support Grant application. This will ensure that the Council has all of the information needed to release funds promptly. If you do not receive a letter and feel you should, then please contact your local council as soon as possible. You can also visit your council website. Many will have the advice and application form online.
Covid 19 scams!
Believe it or not there are people and organisations taking advantage of this difficult time, so watch out! Some examples include:
Shop around and compare deals, focusing on:
If you can borrow money off friends or family this would be a cheaper option.
AVOID lending from payday lenders or other high cost credit lenders.
Some banks are offering interest free overdrafts and credit cards which could a be suitable short term solution.
Supporting your customers
As you may have already seen, a lot of groomers are doing videos on social media to show owners how to care for their dog’s coats during the lockdown. This shows you are supporting your customers and care for their dog’s condition.
Offer set times / days for Q&A sessions for your customers as they may have worries or concerns that you could easily put at bay such as, a dogs nails are too long and the owners are worried about the damage this may cause. Simple advice such as walking on more pavements will help wear them down.
Manage your bookings after lockdown
After lockdown it may be tempting to work 7 days a week to get on top of all the dogs that require attention, but you still need to look after your physical and mental health. Take this time to put in place a strategy and categorise your customers’ dogs depending on coat type, condition, health needs etc. helping you plan your bookings effectively for when you are ready to re-open. Let’s face it, a lot will be 7f all offs!
We hope some of these tips will help you and give you some guidance through this very difficult time. Thank you for staying safe!
BIGA’s advice remains: Follow all Government Advice. Stay At Home. Protect The NHS. Save Lives.
Cat grooming is rewarding and not as tricky as you might fear
Hey groomers........ Did you know?
As a dog groomer, you have the most transferable skills to take on cat grooming.
Cat grooming is rewarding in emotions and finances and is not as dangerous as you may imagine with 2 people, the right tools and skills to hand.
The call for cat groomers is huge, we now have 3 days available at Absolutely Animals in London and can groom between 20-25 cats a week in these days. Averaging at £65-£160 per cat it can be a skill well worth developing. Cats travel to us from as far as Brighton and Buckinghamshire.
A lot of the work we do is actually animal welfare rather than aesthetics’. Although we do have some cats in every month for maintenance grooms, most will come in when the owner can’t manage the coat anymore. This may be from a couple of small mats underneath to a full pelted coat. Often coats are left far too long.
I just love cat grooming and so do all my staff. We always record the grooming for each cat, as like dogs, each cat has its own personal likes and dislikes. Cats read you more deeply than dogs, so if you are scared and think they might try to bite you, that’s probably what will happen, which is why correct training is essential when grooming cats.
Have a look at the few grooming schools in the country for some cat training from groomers proficient in cat grooming. You can find them on www.mypetgroomer.co.uk
Meow for now....
We are now 20 years into the 21st Century
Find out how online Software can help your business TODAY
These days, there is a growing need for software solutions to make life easier, to automate processes and save time and money. Software is becoming more mainstream for all businesses and grooming is no exception, but what’s the future of Software for groomers? Recent years have seen new innovative Software as a Service (SAAS) platforms launched (like Savvy Pet Spa) which bring the latest technology innovations to the grooming world. Why have Saas systems become so popular and why are groomers jumping on board?
Submitted by Lisa Gill
A Fellow Pet Groomer shares Challenge and Triumph, in her own words
By Julie Goodall
I began my dog grooming career back in 2011 after training with the lovely Debby Knight at her salon/training centre in Oswestry.
I started my business shortly after, starting slowly but surely to being full-time by September 2012.
I loved my business, my clients and of course the dogs that we build such a close bond with.
So fast forward to January 2016, life was good, business was great, I had just become engaged to my now husband Mike who, I have to say, is my biggest fan.
Then early January I was rushed to hospital with a suspected Heart Attack. It wasn’t - thank goodness - but it did start the ball rolling with lots of medical tests.
I ended up seeing a Rheumatologist, who ordered a full body MRI. She was looking for Lupus, MS, ME, some very serious conditions, I’ll be honest, I was very scared.
Follow-up Appointment day arrived, and nothing would prepare us for the news we were about to be given. I had a Brain Tumour at the base of my skull around my brain stem...
So all systems go: The Walton Centre in Liverpool became like a second home. I think we should have had our own parking space.
I was watch-and-wait for around 18 months, during which I continued to work at a lesser amount and also married my lovely man.
Just after we married in April 2017, I had a severe dose of what we hoped was Labyrinthitis. Sadly it wasn’t, it was the tumor growing and causing a whole lot of problems.
So surgery was arranged for August, but was subsequently cancelled due to it being too dangerous!
I then had to make the heartbreaking decision to close my business Groomintails. I was truly heartbroken. I felt all hope had gone and my condition deteriorated rapidly.
I had 3 monthly appointments at Walton and then met a wonderful Consultant Neurosurgeon who agreed that it was time to operate. She was optimistic of a good outcome and we had a glimmer of hope again.
Surgery date was Thursday 14th December 2017.
I was scared but also hopeful. To be honest, I think I was that drugged up it sort of just happened.
I was in hospital for five days. It was a tough time, but I got through it with the love and support of family & friends and I was home for Christmas.
Let’s fast forward to January 2019. Recovery had been a very rocky road and we had also moved house.
Then through the post I received my Driving License back.
It was like a switch had been flicked. I felt able to live my life properly, not just as a spectator.
After encouragement from friends and family, I used Debby’s salon a few times to do our dogs. Then I asked Mike to set up my grooming equipment in our garage at home. Good friends loaned me their dogs to practice on. It felt like I had never been away.
So that’s when Groomintails re-opened, I can’t tell you how amazing it felt!
I contacted my previous clients to let them know I had re-opened and, I would say. a good proportion have returned.
Due to planning restrictions I couldn’t continue to work from home so I found my fabulous shop/unit.
Life is much better for us now. It is still 'little steps'. I can’t, nor do I want to, work as I did.
I am stricter with my diary now. I rule it, not it me. I do struggle with the No word, but I’m getting better and people are happy to wait for me.So the moral of my tail (see what I did there) is don’t give up hope. Even when you feel at your lowest ebb, fight as hard as you can. We only have one crack at this and it isn’t a dress rehearsal.
Love and strength to you all.
Scissor and Clipper Blade Maintenance
*Groomers should clean and oil their scissors every day
*Wipe the blades clean from the outside of the blade, clean around the pivot point with a brush, oil around the pivot point and screw.
*Check your scissor for nicks by slowly closing the blades, and you will feel the nick.
*If your scissor develops a nick, it needs sharpening under normal usage this would be every 3 to 4 months
*Regularly balance your scissor, as a slack scissor damages the ride line and the cutting edge
*To balance your scissor, hold the scissor by the finger end in both hands, with the blades pointing upwards, lift one blade half way up and loose it, the blade should stop just before the tips meet. Adjust till you have this action.
*Don’t tighten your scissor to make it cut, you will damage the blades.
Tips on when to clean and re-oil a blade:
*When blade performance is not normal, you have to force it through the hair.
*If the clipper seems to be slowing down
*Blades seem to be getting hotter quicker than normal
*If the animal you just did was dirtier than normal, you may have to even clean during the groom.
*You can’t hurt a blade by keeping it clean and oiled
*If you want you want to keep repair and sharpening costs down, then clean and oil your blades “Every Day”www.new-profiles.co.uk
Contributor: Rob at New Profiles
The Groomer's Corner
... with Helen Gasson, of Gastall Dog Grooming
Thought it was time to address a few things that I’ve noticed keep getting raised within social media chat rooms. So, let’s start by hitting one head on.
As you all know, price increases are never a welcome topic with consumers. We often don’t really notice their being implemented. Some sneak into to food bills; utility providers often try to hide them and we’re all familiar with that dreaded text from our mobile phone providers. Price increases are everywhere! They’re a fact of life to the consumer. So why is it so hard for our customers, within the pet service industry, to accept them?
To those of you, who have already braved implementing a price increase, you will know the pain of losing a few customers. No one likes losing a groom. We work hard with our customer base and it always smarts... just a little. However, normally with the correct directional increase, you will make up for what you lose, when a disgruntled customer takes their business elsewhere.
So how do you decide how much, when and how to?
Following are a few simple steps of how to increase your prices, in a professional way and hopefully go away toward damage limitation for client loss.
Firstly, how do you decide?There are many formulas out there to help you calculate an increase, but also look at the predicted Consumer Pricing Index for the year. This can be found on the gov.uk web sites and is a great way of introducing your next price increase. Customers can then check for themselves and your morals will not be questioned.
Thirdly, when to go for it?
Think of the long game here! Your have an obligation to notify your customer in advance. Allowing them if they so wanted, enough time to seek the same service elsewhere. So, for example; you have a bi-yearly groom and you advertised your increase 4 months before. With a nice in-house poster of your pending increase. That customer can argue that they were not made aware, and therefore they won’t pay said increase. You need to make sure that you have covered all your bases legally. No one wants the conflict of price war in their business.
Perhaps follow these simple steps to help avoid one.
Debby Knight is a dog groomer and business owner at The Bristles Dog Grooming and Training Salon in Oswestry, Shropshire. Debby keeps Alpacas. Here she explains what grooming an alpaca involves.
Why I don't groom Alpacas
Once a year my Alpacas need shearing and Spring/ Summer is the time to remove it. I own 4 Alpacas, Claudio 15, a grumpy old man, Germanicus, 10, Monty and Merlin (aka The Camel ) who are 9.
Alpacas are herd animals and reared for their wonderful fleeces and originate in South America. Alpacas are kept in a minimum of a trio, as one is always awake and on guard, though I don’t think any of mine have read the book on Alpacas, as they will all happily sleep in their stable, with no one on guard. They are often confused with Lhamas, which are much bigger and are used as pack animals. All, however, come from the Camelid family. And yes, they spit .
The shearer arrived last Sunday, in a down pour. We need to have dry alpacas so their fleece can be bagged up for sale, so my 4 boys were herded into their stable to keep them dry, except for the nice green saliva balls hurled at each other in protest.
For the uninitiated, watching an alpaca sheared looks barbaric. A piece of vinyl was laid on the paddock floor and the shearer grabbed the first victim by the neck and rump. He wrestled it to the ground, with a swift swing and they were laid on their side, with both back and front legs stretched out like tent ropes which were tied to either side of the paddock. The shearer then deftly clipped off all the fleece except for a little bit on the head. The teeth were checked and their padded toes trimmed. (they don’t have hooves, just 2 padded soft toes on each foot ). The whole shearing episode lasted less than an hour for all 4 boys Total cost £80 .... a bargain !!
I am often asked why I don’t do the job myself as I am a dog groomer .The thought of manhandling my 4 boys myself reminds me why I stick to dogs.
The image here is of Claudio. I added a bit of colour !!
An article appeared recently in The Daily Mail about the owners of a Samoyed who were 'horrified' their pet had to be shaved because the coat was badly matted. Here, BIGA member Katie Rourke-Dowding explains the consequences of a neglected coat and encourages all groomers to share this message with their customers. This isn't preaching to the converted or just the responsible dog owner: we all know dog owners talk to other dog owners because we meet each other when we're out walking our dogs - so this is a great way of educating the public and raising awareness.
A bit of a Close Shave - when Naked isn't Nice
Last week saw yet another painful story in the press regarding a dog that had been shaved “bald” by a dog groomer. This begs the question, why would a groomer shave a dog bald? After all, isn’t the groomer’s reputation resting at the end of their client’s lead?
The general public generally seem to have a pretty low opinion of Dog Groomers. In fact, many of them seem to think that they are only grooming dogs because they lack the ability to become a human hairdresser. There may be no regulation in the industry, but there are some highly trained professionals in this field. One thing that all groomers have in common, however, is that they have the dogs’ best interests at heart. This principle is reinforced by many of the bodies that a groomer may join. The International Professional Groomers (IPG), British Isles Groomers Association (BIGA) and the Groomers Association all have a Code of Ethics which their members must agree to follow to become a member. Dog Groomers are also bound by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which states most clearly that they cannot intentionally cause pain or suffering to the dogs in their care.
When presented with a dog in a severely matted condition there is no way that a groomer can comply with their professional body’s code of ethics or the Animal Welfare Act if they even attempt to brush out these matts. This is because a matt is not a mere tangle, where a few hairs have gracefully entwined, its more akin to felt, where the guard hairs poke through an undercoat which has become so inextricably knotted that it cannot be brushed or combed out.
If left untouched each matt joins to its neighbour and before long the entire dog is residing in a living straight jacket of restrictive fur. Unlike a straight jacket however, this is joined to the skin at the roots, so every movement of the dog is accompanied with stretching, pulling or pinching of the skin. The lumps that the matts form are uncomfortable to lie on and so the poor dog gets no rest at night. If the dog becomes infested with fleas or has an additional burden of thorns, burrs or ticks also lurking in that fur, his life becomes a living hell. But this is all happening at skin level and it's totally astonishing how many dog owners are completely unaware of the distress these matts are causing – it looks fluffy on top so everything is ok, right?
The major causes of matted fur are:
• Rubbing the coat dry (it needs to be blotted)
• Leaving the dog muddy or snowy after a walk
• Having the dog spayed or castrated (the lack of hormones really affects the coat)
• Using the wrong brushes for the coat type, or not brushing at all. (A good groomer will always be happy to educate their clients here, after all, if the client does a good job at home, the groomer can do a brilliant job on their dog.)
Experienced groomers have encountered this scenario many times and each one will have a different method of dealing with the customer who brings them a dog in this lamentable condition. The process should include a thorough consultation with the owner, a signed Matted Dog Release Form to relinquish the groomer from any responsibility and printed After Care form so that the owners know how to look after their dog, both in its present condition and how to continue forward so that this sorry state never occurs again. I personally prefer to have the customer stay and watch the entire process. They then know that even a shave-down is not “the easy option” that they imagine having watched too many episodes of Countryfile where the sheepshearers race through a flock averaging on two minutes a beast. They then see that even with the greatest care taken it still causes their dog some discomfort (though not nearly as seriously as attempting to brush it out would) and they see their “naked” dog emerging from the straight jacket so the shorn locks are no surprise. I think had XXX been invited to stay and watch her dog’s procedure, she would not have been so quick to berate the skill, compassion and care of the groomer who was left to face the aftermath of the neglect of her dog.
There are a great many inexperienced, new groomers just starting out, who are still in a position of needing to retain existing customers and are the ones who are likely to get bullied into attempting to de-matt the poor tortured hound, either not realising that they are going to cause so much distress and pain or too worried about losing the customer to care.
The truth is that until a groomer gets his fingers into a dog's coat it is impossible to say how bad the situation may be.
To sum up, a groomer should never intentionally cause an animal distress but will not earn a living by upsetting clients. It follows then, that a shave-down is not the easy option, but an unfortunate necessity.
EXAMPLE of a matted Samoyed BEFORE (credit: Absolutely Animals London School of Pet Grooming)
...AFTER... ahhh, much better... thank you...
It's Oscar season. BIGA's acting-chair Kristian Maris recalls an accidental life lesson.
And the Oscar Goes to...
Years ago, cinema-loving friends and I gathered to watch the Academy Awards in my sitting room. The big screen television was ready. Popcorn was popped. Cocktails were served. My friend Lindsay brought along a platter of the most delicious chicken satay I’ve ever tasted.
The evening was great fun as we all guessed and groaned and cheered at the actors, directors, set decorators and others winning their respective Oscars.
At one point, somebody bumped the remote control (I'm sure it was David). We found ourselves unintentionally watching a slow-moving documentary about Katherine Hepburn. We assumed it was part of the Academy Awards broadcast.
It was moving stuff. Katherine Hepburn talked about her long, unconventional relationship with Spencer Tracy. The films they made together. The lives and work they shared. He was her everything. But then Spencer Tracy died. After more than 25 years, Katherine was alone. How could she go on?
She couldn’t. She was utterly bereft. But she resolved to survive her grief.
“Get busy,” she told herself. She threw herself into her work. Made appointments. Read scripts. Kept acting. Attended industry events. Anything and everything to get busy and stay busy.
She took the time properly to acknowledge her grief over Spencer. To mourn his death. But to survive, she had to get busy. It prevented her from the paralysis of inescapable despair.
Eventually we realised that we were watching the wrong program and switched back to the Academy Awards. But we were all touched by Katherine Hepburn’s resolve. It was one of those accidental life lessons that I remember to this day. I don’t recall which film won Best Picture.
BIGA member (and BIGA's new co-ordinator), Sarah Sturley, shares her experience of mustering up the courage to attend dog grooming seminars. Thanks for sharing Sarah!
Going It Alone
by Sarah Sturley
When starting my business from home and working in my own little shed - erm, I mean Salon - in my garden, I never knew how lonely or daunting running a dog grooming business could be.
I desperately wanted to keep up-to-date with all the current Grooming gossip and trends but I soon found out that I wouldn’t be able to get that just from reading magazines. I had to find another way of meeting like-minded people, who shared the same passion for grooming as I did. But the thought of going to grooming seminars alone was more than way out of my comfort zone and I didn’t think I could do it.
I thought I would feel intimidated or under-qualified to be with other groomers who had been grooming for such a long time. That I wouldn’t have a clue who any of these people were (only the top groomers I saw in the magazines - and to think I could approach and talk to them was a definite no no, after all, they are important and wouldn’t have time for me, would they?) I also thought that no one would talk to me and I would have to sit by myself the whole time I was there.
Well, let me reassure all of you who are thinking the same way. Going to grooming seminars on your own is amazing and up with some of the best things I have ever done. Ok, so it was a little scary at first, but as soon as you walk in, everyone makes you feel so comfortable and welcome that all fears soon disappear. I have met some amazing people (who are not all groomers) at each seminar, including some of the most experienced groomers in the country/world who, I soon found out, are normal human beings after all and more than happy to chat and help with any questions and even share some fantastic grooming tips.
I have been grooming and going to seminars for just over 18 years now. Sometimes I go with others, but if they are unable to go with me then I just go on my own and enjoy meeting and making new friends. I am still gaining knowledge and tips from both new and experienced groomers but, most of all, sharing conversations and being in an environment with so many like-minded and passionate people, is certainly worth taking that jump and going it alone if you have to, because trust me, you are definitely not alone when you get there.