Grooming Miss Daisy, task of epic proportions

I don’t know what it is about this winter but it has seemed considerably muddier and dirtier than usual. And cleaning doesn’t seem to do much good either.
Grooming Miss Daisy, task of epic proportions

Windows develop mud spatters and greenish streaks only days after cleaning, soggy leaves pile up around the door even when there’s no wind to blow them.

And as for the dogs, despite reams of old towels on the ready to rub them down with, I don’t think they have been properly dry for weeks.

Daisy the St Bernard was about two when I adopted her and had spent most of her life shut in a yard by owners she rarely saw. This would be distressing for any dog. But for this breed, which has an overwhelming need for human company, it can be soul-destroying.

It took some time for Daisy to relax, to realise that the woodland walks she so loves were to be a part of her life and that company — human and canine — were now hers to enjoy at will. Gradually, Daisy became a calm, easy going and very affectionate dog. Once she actually deleted a story I was working on when, in a bid for attention, she rested her enormous head on the computer keyboard.

Daisy has the bulk of a rugby halfback and if you run into her because she has gone to sleep right behind you, it’s like running smack into a wall at a high speed. But I soon found myself unable to imagine life without this affectionate giant. When it came to her coat — more like a bear’s pelt really — I eventually had to admit defeat. After several months we finally got rid of the knots that festooned her coat like grubby tassels.

However, the rapid re-growth rate soon meant that new knots formed at a surprisingly fast rate. And since Daisy had not been accustomed to grooming from an early age — essential when dealing with giant breeds that have an alar mingly fast growth rate — this grooming business was a concept that just confirmed her suspicions that human behaviour was sometimes very peculiar.

Because of the essential sweetness of her nature, Daisy’s idea of protest is no more than that of passive resistance. When she considers she has humoured the humans in her life quite enough, she simply sits down and considering that she’s about twelve stone, persuading her up again is not always easy.

During last summer’s heat wave I became concerned. She was clearly suffering from the extraordinary temperatures. I decided to take Daisy for her first ever visit to a professional groomer, a canine beautician no less and have that coat stripped right down.

She sleeps — and snores — indoors and has no intention of going out in bad weather if she can possibly help it. Daisy especially dislikes the snow, which I thought was a bit rich, since I’d been counting on her to bail me out in the event of an avalanche.

Anyway, the g rooming went really well and when I collected Daisy a couple of hours later; she was gorgeous and looked like a younger version of herself. The pile of fur that almost reached the top of the grooming table was massive and I realised what an enormous task this had been for groomer Madeline Dorrington.

Just recently I decided to get Daisy ready for the better weather. Daisy is not a dog that likes standing for long periods, but she behaved real-ly well. But after two or more hours of trimming, we decided that the usual bath and finishing trim would have to wait for another day.

I congratulated Madeline on the transformation, and asked her about her challenging work.

¦ What decided you to open up a grooming salon?

>> “I’ve been involved with the care of animals for most of my life…. dogs, horses, rescue animals and my own pets. I helped found West Cork Animal Rescue. I love dogs and I enjoy spending time with them. I had been made redundant from three different jobs before finally I’d had enough. I wanted to earn a living at something I enjoy and find rewarding, something that was mine. I trained with James Gilson, one of Ireland’s top groomers at the Kinsale International Academy of Grooming. And we were taught every aspect – bathing, different styling for shows, how to handle equipment. It was three weeks before we were allowed near a pair of scissors.”

¦ When did you open Hound Dog Hairdressing?

>> “In December 2009. We have salons in Drimoleague, where I live, in Skibbereen and at the Bantry Veterinary Clinic; we offer a complete range of grooming services for all breed of dogs, from luxury pampering to just a simple nail clip. All dogs are given a free visible health check including skin, hair, ears and teeth. All dogs benefit from regular grooming to promote a healthy coat and skin. If matting is left unattended, it can cause skin irritation and lead to infection and painful skin problems.”

¦ Do you have many dogs that are difficult to deal with?

>> “Luckily no. Some dogs can be awkward; don’t want to do anything you ask them. But I completed the course ‘Communicating with Animals’ which was run by Pea Horsley, a professional animal communicator. The course is designed to help give a better understanding of what animals are feeling and to bring calm and comfort. This has proven to be a great help to me if I need to calm and reassure dogs who might be feeling nervous or anxious during grooming.”

¦ Do you consult beforehand?

>> “Yes we do. We pride ourselves on offering your dog love, care and attention and that they will be groomed in a safe, caring environment. Dogs are assessed and the owner consulted, taking into account coat and skin condition and any health issues. We also invite anyone with a new puppy to come in with their dog, leave him or her with us for a couple of hours so that they can get used to the salon before their first grooming. People are becoming more aware of the many needs for grooming — cleanli-ness, overall health, reducing infestation of external parasites on the skin. Most people don’t realise that in 21 days, one flea can become 1,000.”

Shaggy dog tale has really happy ending

Madeline Dorrington prepared this little document for clients who may think the cost of having their best friend groomed regularly is too pricey.

¦ You do not wait eight weeks or in some cases eight months before brushing or washing your own hair.

¦ Your hairdresser does not pluck out hair blocking the ear canal and clean your ears. ¦ Your hairdresser does not wash your rear end, express your anal glands (if needed) and give you a sanitary trim.

¦ Your hairdresser only cuts and washes the hair on your head and does not give you an all-over bath.

¦ Your hairdresser does not give you a full body, visible health check to include skin, ears, eyes and teeth. ¦ Your hairdresser does not include a manicure and pedicure as part of your haircut.

¦ You sit still at the hair-dressers.

¦ You do not bite or scratch your hairdresser. 086-2036396

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