That was when it all became my sole devotion, and "Lisa's Pretty Pups" became a reality from what was previously envisioned as an impossible dream.
I grew up on a farm in southwestern Manitoba. I was raised to have utmost respect for my elders, family and every living animal. Animals were an essential part of our livelihood, and their care was of utmost importance. I spent every day, several hours in the barn cleaning stalls with clean bedding, good fresh water and good feed.
Animals are innocent beings, and are totally reliant of human care. I was taught that if I couldn't look after something well, then I should not enter into such a commitment. At 16 years old, I was sent to the city for parts or something for the farm, and decided on my own to find and visit what was known as the city pound. Upon arrival with all the barking dogs, I went to the holding room. So many sad eyes, it was heartbreaking. I wanted to take them all home. Some cages had tags on them with dates, dates when they were to be euthanized.
I came across a little moppy matted little ball curled up in the corner of its cage. It was impossible to know its breed, even its face was matted over. It had one more day, and its time was up. I just knew it was my dog. The fee was so small, I paid it and it never occurred to me till after that I should have called home for permission, but I felt it would be easier to ask forgiveness and hope for the best.
My Mom was very meticulous in our home, our living room had a 2 inch snow white shag carpet! I was so proud of this little helpless animal and she looked at me mortified. There was no way the dog was coming into the house unless it was clean and tidy. I would be able to keep it only if it was clean and tidy always and I looked after its every need. Vet care and food included. That was the deal. So I sat out on the lawn with Moms sewing scissors, a horse brush and a comb from the bathroom, and slowly cut thru the matts.
The stench was so bad, my heart was so angry at the neglect this animal had suffered. She knew I was helping her, she trusted me and that day changed both of our lives forever. She was a beautiful little cockapoo, and she was my loyal shadow for the next 14 years.
I was asked over the course of the years by friends and family to groom their dogs and I remember the blisters from the sewing scissors and the hours it took! I started working at a vet clinic on Saturdays to groom. The local groomer was on Maternity leave and I applied. Thankfully I was hired and although I had never used clippers before or had any formal training, it was so much easier.
The skill just got better and better! Its like knitting, the more you do, the better you get at it. The craft is just one element of the groom, the most important element is understanding and connecting with the dog. Being able to read them, and finding a mutual respect to work together to complete the job. That is a skill that cannot be taught. It's just in you, or it's not. Animals have always gravitated to me, and all kinds of animals!
Specializing in the old and frail, frightened and anxious just kind of became something that I was good at. Things happen to us all, we all have stories and specific personalities, and so do our pets. I have been able to read and understand behaviours, and find solutions to get thru.
Often its all about letting the dog have the time to decide that its okay, time to read me, and understand what is being asked of them. Being an Alpha to them in a way they understand and respect, seems to be the trick. The patience is respected and trust is earned from there. Usually success is soon to follow. Sometimes it isn't behavior issues at all, its the aging and frail bodies that hinder grooms that never used to be a problem.
The dogs take time to decide too, but they rely on other instincts as perhaps they are now blind and only see frightening shadows. Or they are unable to stand for length of time. Each is very individual, and its all in the touch and taking the time. Sometimes its the owners themselves that have the issues and share their horror stories. Some shared tears and often a hug bring comfort. Dogs feed off of their owners emotions as well, so drop off can be hard for both!
I do at times offer comfort videos or update texts to help ease the hearts of owners. Shaking and trembling is very normal. They are like kids being dropped off at daycare. Home is where they want to be of course, but they live thru it and are totally fine when you leave. I get them done and home as quick as possible without rushing. Truth be known, I shake myself going to the dentist lol. I like him and he never has hurt me, but its a discomfort I don't look forward to. I always live thru it lol!
My cuts are as per owners request, so the owners get a cut that works for their lifestyle, budget and time commitments. I work together with you (the owner) to discuss what I can, cannot or will not do. Sometimes (matting) there really isn't much of an option, and thankfully it is hair that grows!
As per style and techniques, each groomer acquires a "unique to them" skill. It can't be duplicated and as most will know, each groomer has a different result even if you have requested the same. Each groomer has a different meaning to specific words so you may think I ask you a lot of questions, but I want to make sure that I can deliver what it is that you want.
Then there is the unforeseen. Dogs being an animal move about, they can be a moving target. The face usually is where the detail is and if they zig and you zag, there now is a deeper cut into the fur that needs to be corrected. Since you cant put the hair back, it all has to be taken down to match the hole. Each cut will be somewhat different from the last or the next, its just the way it is!
I keep a very detailed file card and do my best to duplicate the style with the length you ask. Length is often decided by the condition of the coat upon arrival. Tangles are much easier to work thru than matts, but everything is discussed when you arrive. I am never offended if my style of clipping doesn't work for you, or you need to look elsewhere while I am away or booked when you need. Its never been about me, its about your fur family! I will always advocate for them. All in all, I do my very best, and that's all I can do. I am so humbled by the privilege you entrust to me.
How lucky I have been to have practiced this craft for 2 decades! I will continue this passion as long as my joints allow. My heart will never tire of looking into soft warm eyes and feeling wet noses on my cheek. I am the luckiest girl in the world!
Please call my landline and talk to me personally to book your appointment or chat with me. I take the time if time allows! I look forward to each and every one of you, every day!
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