Clare Clipperwiz groans as she throws off the covers and props herself up in a sitting position on her bed. It's 6 a.m., and Clare has to be at her grooming shop at 7:30. She's already peeked at today's schedule, and she's got four dogs to groom. Not especially busy, Clare thinks, but things don't always turn out the way you plan them. To make matters worse, her back is killing her, probably from that huge lab she had to fight with yesterday afternoon. While he was a nice dog, he was far more interested in the spaniel on the other table than in what was going on under his nose. Clare hopes somebody else gets him next time.
Clare grabs a shower, climbs into her grooming scrubs, and inhales a breakfast bar on her way out the door. Although the clients aren't supposed to arrive until 8, someone always shows up early, and Clare wants to have her tools ready so she's not madly scrambling to restrain her first dog with one hand while she roots through her toolbox with the other. This time, Clare's lucky, and she has a few minutes for a cup of super-strength java with her coworkers. She'll guzzle a 32-oz. soda with lunch, and that will keep her going through the afternoon.
Here comes Dog #1, a golden retriever with horribly matted ears, legs, and back end. Clare explains she'll need to shave those areas pretty close, as trying to demat the dog would take too much time and cause the dog great discomfort. Of course, the client won't admit that she doesn't brush her dog between grooming appointments, but Clare can figure that out. She hauls the golden onto her table, shaves out the mats, trims his nails, and dispatches him to the shop's bather. Heidi has only been on the job for a week, and hasn't quite mastered the smelly (but necessary) job of expressing each dog's anal glands in the bathtub.
Next, Clare meets Dog #2, a cute little Yorkshire terrier with a dastardly disposition. The little beast has already bitten Clare twice, which is surprising since Clare tries to keep one step ahead of him on the grooming table. Of course, the owner thinks he's an angel who can do no wrong. Clare shuttles the Yorkie off to the bather to work out his aggressions. She'll deal with him after he's (hopefully) calmed down.
Who's this? This certainly isn't the German shepherd who just needs a bath, brushout, and nail trim. Clare has never seen this mangy beast before, and he clearly doesn't have an appointment, but the dog looks so miserable that Clare says she'll fit him in somehow. His foster parent just picked him up from the rescue group's van, and the poor dog looks like he hasn't been bathed in months.
Clare knows this guy will feel better once the mats aren't pulling on his skin and he's gotten the dirt washed out of his coat. She lifts him onto her table and shaves out the mats, quite an exercise in itself. Actually, she has to shave off most of the dog's coat, which comes off in one piece like an animal skin. This will make him a lot easier to bathe, and Clare won't have to deal with mats that have tightened up after they get wet. She also cuts his nails, which were so long they were curling downward, making it difficult for the poor thing to walk. He seems to feel better after all this prep work. Now for his bath.
Here comes the German shepherd, one of Clare's favorite doggie clients. Dog #3's owner pampers him silly, which the dog may think is a bit undignified for his stature in the dog world. However, he gets brushed regularly so his baths and brushouts are a real breeze. Clare spends a bit of extra time with this guy, trimming his nails and scratching his ears, before she sends him back for a bath. The owner's also a good tipper.
Dog #4 is a cocker spaniel with a sweet temperament – except when Clare tries to mess with his feet. Then he turns into a whirling dervish who keeps spinning in circles so Clare can't trim his feet or do his nails. Good thing he's charming and cooperative for his bath, though, because that's where he's headed first. She'll tackle the nails later.
Now that Clare's dogs are all here, plus the extra rescue dog, she takes a few minutes to review her dogs' grooming instructions over a snack. This is really the only breather Clare will get all day, as she'll be on a non-stop assembly line once she starts her finish grooming work. In fact, the bather has washed and dried the German shepherd first, since his owner will be coming back for him in an hour. Clare gives him an energetic brushout combined with a back massage, and adds to his good looks with a colorful bandana. Clare thinks her tip prospects are good.
Clare grabs a sandwich from the deli next door, trying not to scratch while she's eating her food. The blasted dog hair gets into every piece of clothing she's wearing, including her bra and underwear. While her grooming scrubs are made of a smooth nylon that repels dog hair, that doesn't do anything for the hair that makes its way inside her clothes.
Now it's time to finish-clip the golden. Although Clare has already shaved out the dog's mats, now she's got to somehow blend these radically short areas with the rest of his coat. She gives him a nice brushout, feathers his legs and trims his ears and tail. This dog isn't going to look like a show dog, Clare thinks, but he'll feel better and that's all she cares about.
Clare tackles the cocker next. She lassos him with two different grooming nooses, one around his neck and the other around his back end. This tactic is reasonably successful, and doesn't seem to bother the cocker at all. She gives him a good brushout, which he tolerates quite well. Then it's on to his nails, which he doesn't tolerate at all. Clare enlists another groomer to hold him while Clare trims his nails, legs, and feet. Clare wins another round.
On to the Yorkie. Clare uses the same two-noose setup, extra set of hands, and a nice little muzzle. Somehow, she manages to get his nails done without getting hurt, and she's able to trim him up pretty well before he totally goes berserk. Clare puts him in a kennel so he can calm down, and thinks she'll take another stab at him later.
Now Clare spiffs up the rescue dog. She's surprised to see that he actually cleans up rather nicely. She gives him an all-over single-length clip, along with a nice back massage, and ties a bandana around his neck. He looks like a completely new dog.
Clare approaches the Yorkie one more time, but almost gets nailed while she's taking him out of his kennel. She can see she's not going to get much more work done, so she gives him a nice brushout and a couple of blue hair bows. Yes, they're on the sissy side, but at least they're blue. It's a Yorkie thing.
Now it's time for the owners to pick up their dogs. As expected, the German shepherd's owner gives Clare a nice tip. The golden's owner huffs in and out, not even looking Clare in the eye. The rescue dog's foster parent is thrilled. The cocker's owner seems pleased and schedules another appointment. And then there's the Yorkie's owner. She shakes her head and requests another groomer next time. Nothing would make Clare happier.
It's 6 p.m., and Clare's day is finally over. While Clare has time to meet her girlfriends for a nice dinner at that new bistro, she's simply too wiped out, and too dirty, to think about that tonight. It's home to a hot shower and some mindless TV before she hits the sack.