Anna drags herself out of bed at 8:30AM, wondering where the rested feeling went that's supposed to accompany sleep. It's not early, but she's been putting in some long hours at the pet salon. Hot weather means more frequent baths for pets and more thins and trims.
Quickly, she braids her hair to keep it out of the way and dresses in a company golf shirt and shorts. No makeup? No problem. Considering the amount she gets splashed during the day, the makeup would never last. Grabbing a soda and protein bar for breakfast, Anna heads out to work. Destination: The Pet Palace—"Where we treat your best friends like royalty."
Before becoming a pet groomer, Anna had no idea how much royals like to get muddy and play in the garbage.
At 9:20AM, she pulls into the parking lot and waves at a couple clients who've already dropped off their little darlings for the morning. Inside, Anna puts her purse in a locker and sticks the rest of her soda in the fridge. From the front, she hears the receptionist Stephanie singing along to some crazy '80s song about stray cats. She has a whole playlist of animal songs. Oh well, "Stray Cat Whatever" is beginning to grow on Anna.
"Morning Stephanie! What's the schedule like today?"
"Hey girl. The schedule? It's like yesterday and all next week—jam-packed."
Looking down today's roster, Anna spots a problem. "Uhh Stephanie, this one for Rochester—is that Mrs. Walker's Rochester?"
"Yeah. What's the...uh oh. I know what you're thinking. Not enough time scheduled, right? After all, Rochester is only the most important, smartest, best dog in the whole world. The dog that needs two-and-a-half hours of undivided attention to get his coat perfectly coiffed."
Anna makes a face. "Yes, that Rochester. Are these other appointments ironclad? Maybe we'll get a cancellation."
"Possibly. Let's see, Mrs. Brown is sweet. I'll call and put her off until tomorrow."
Anna checks off the first client on the list and heads for the holding area. Today's first appointment is a strong-willed Jack Russell named Jazz. He's the whole reason Anna started calling the breed terrors instead of terriers. He'll fight to stay out of a bath and then not want to leave once he gets in.
"Hey, Jazz. Who's a good boy this morning?" Anna prepares the deep sink for his bath and tosses a ball around with Jazz. Maybe playing with him would help. One thing's for sure: from the sound of his nails clicking on the floor, it's definitely time for a trim. "C'mon, Jazz. Let's go, boy." Anna kneels to scoop Jazz up and he runs right by her. Oh, to have that energy.
Finally in the sink, Jazz behaves well as long as both of Anna's hands are on him. As she reaches for a combm he tries to jump, sending a big splash of soapy water right into Anna's face. Yum. Nothing like the taste of soapy dog water. Anna combs through to get any small debris, pays special attention to the ears and eyes, rinses and wraps Jazz in a big, fluffy towel. "See, that wasn't so bad. Now let's clip those nails." Using safety clippers, Anna has Jazz groomed and ready to go in record time.
The next three clients are fairly easy as pet grooming goes. Two cute, chubby puppies (chuppies?) who need baths and one older Himalayan cat named Freckles, whose long fur is matted in a few places. Anna gently bathes the cat, getting out as many of the mats as possible. While she dries Freckles, she lets her clippers run on low to get him used to the noise. Sometimes that helps. Quickly, she clips off his claw points, then trims his tummy to remove the remaining mats.
After she finishes her early client list for the day, Anna updates Stephanie and calls for lunch delivery. Any time she can save today for Rochester will help. She's now earning commission on each pet and she'd much rather have a short lunch break and get off at a reasonable hour. Rochester will be her first client after lunch. Anna just needs to make sure he's not her only client after lunch.
After some paperwork, cleaning, and a short lunch break, Anna meets Mrs. Walker at the desk. "There's Rochester. How are you, Mrs. Walker?"
"I'm fine, dear. But poor Rochester is not. He picked up a flea somewhere. He's positively miserable. Look at him—I just hope there's something you can do."
Anna smiles through clenched teeth. "We'll have Rochester feeling good and rid of any fleas in no time."
"Just make sure he gets the two hours I'm paying for. In fact, I'm sure he's going to need more than that. Shelties are very special, you know. I trust you will make his visit worthwhile."
"Of course we will. Rochester is a favorite of ours. C'mon, boy. Let's get started."
Stephanie turns, catches Anna's eye, and makes a face as she leads Rochester down the hall. Once in the grooming room, Anna gets Rochester to hop up on the table and checks the fur around his face and neck for fleas, but there's no sign of them. Well, that's a good start.
Rochester is actually fairly well-behaved for a dog so doted upon (read: spoiled). But all that fur takes over two-and-a-half hours to bathe, comb, shear, and thin. Once done, though, Rochester is the picture of perfection.
A quick check-in with the desk...Mrs. Walker's only called twice? That might be a new record. Anna asks Stephanie to let Mrs. Walker know Rochester got almost three hours of pampering time. But she also tells Stephanie to only charge her for two of them—it's easier than arguing about how quickly Anna could've worked.
Anna bathes and trims nails on two more short-haired dogs, then is cleaning the grooming the suite when Stephanie buzzes her. A college student brought in her kitten for a bath, but Anna takes one look and knows it'll need more than cleaning. She calls a friend at a veterinarian's office and they agree to see her right away. After giving the student directions to the vet, Anna has Stephanie make an appointment for once the kitty is up to date on its medical records.
As they lock up, Stephanie says, "Just imagine if Rochester were to get sick while he's here."
"Ugh. Is there such a thing as medical air transport for sick pets?"
"Mrs. Walker would find a way. I'm sure."