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  • need some advice!

    I haven't posted much lately because I've been busy,busy busy! But, I definitely could use some input.

    One of my favorite customers came in today with her super sweet Bichon-lhasa. I really like these people and their dog. The dog has a skin condition that is itchy, red,etc. We have changed the diet, he's on medicine from the vet, a medicated shampoo and various natural food supplements. He also comes in VERY matted up from itching.

    Today I spent 45 minutes gently thinnering out the mats because the owner likes the dog to be at least 1 1/2 inches long all over. I wouldn't normally do it that way but I don't think it would do the skin any favors to be vigorously brushed, as I tend to have a heavy hand. I also won't usually do ANY dematting at all for most people but I do like these people and they try really hard to care for their dog.

    So, today I am 45 minutes late because of the extensive matting. I call her but miss her and she shows up. I briefly explain why I'm late, (matting and the skin cond. getting worse.) appologise, and get back to work. I'm in a hurry because I am using up the next dogs time.(!)

    When she came back she was clearly furious. I thought that she was mad because I was late. Well, no that wasn't it. She burst into tears and yelled " YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A BAD OWNER!!!" Boo hoo....and on she went for about 20 minutes.

    My mind went blank except for the little cricket chirps.... I think say something you fool! to myself. I try to feebly reassure her that she is doing everything possible for her dog and these things happen it's not her fault, etc. Shes not buying it and continues crying!

    We discuss her options: 1) Coming in for a bath in between (hell no) 2) cut him short (hell no) 3) keep doing what we're doing which is destroying his coat, it looks like swiss cheese. (your work looks like ****!... no sh** sherlock!)

    Oh, and I also only charged her $ 5 extra for something I would normally charge $20-30 extra for!

    She also informed me that all this dematting, no matter how gentle is really bugging his skin. Sigh.
    She left her previous groomer for shaving the dog. Gee, I wonder why she shaved him, hmmm?

    She reluctantly sched. a bath in 3 weeks after pressure from me but I don't even know if she'll show. She was so PI**ED, and just...weird.

    So, these are a few of my concerns. That reaction was so off the charts, if I brush burn this dog shes likely to go after me for the vet bill, to say the least! And I really shouldn't be dematting a dog with screwed up skin. Also if the dog has another health prob. in the future (likely) how to tell her? The histerics totally freaked me out. I don't want to make her cry again. Ack.

    Advice? "Cause I got nothin" as my son would say. This sort of thing makes me freeze up.

  • #2
    I would be not liking her so much anymore..

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    • #3
      Sometimes there is no pleasing a client. Bottom line is, if the dog is chewing on themselves and the owner is not willing to bush out the dog like daily he is going to mat. Cracks me up that people will spend money on good food, vet shampoos and supplements but refuse to brush their dog. I just tell my clients in a case like this a shorter clip is in order, for the dogs sake! A "good owner" would drop the vainity and agree.

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      • #4
        She's got more issues than grooming! I'd tell her that you will no longer be grooming her dog and that perhaps another groomer would fit her needs better...goodbye! Really, nothing good can come out of this.

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        • #5
          I'm with Lorie

          After the fit of histronics I don't think I'd be liking her very much anymore either. I would let her know that because of the declining skin problems that you will no longer be able to dematt the dog. It's just simply not good for the skin. Let her know that in your professional opinion the best thing would be to go with a shorter style. She can take it or leave it.

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          • #6
            I prolly would have just started sobbing and gulping right back, and told her everything you just told us.
            Might have even ended w/ a huge, honking nose blow, and said "you make me feel like a BAD groomer, and you and Porcelain Poochie are one of my most gigantic priorities when it comes to taking the proper steps to take really good care of him AND you, and keep everyone happy and out of the vet's office. [Sniffle, nose blow.] Please tell me what I can say or do differently that won't result in you being so upset"! [Wail]

            I did that w/ my Collie client about 4 years ago. It redefined our relationship.
            She no longer has meltdowns about the dog when she picks up, but she does go on and on about the benefits that counseling have added to her life. In a very sympathetic and suggestive way. Oh well, at least it derailed the original "issue'.
            Often it's not what you say, but how you say it.

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            • #7
              Put the ball back in her court. Ask her "Exactly what is it you'd like me to do?" Then wait. If she says brush/comb it out, let her know that from now on there'll be an additional charge of $$ due to the fact that you'll have to take more time. If it eats up enough time that you have to book two spots for her, then charge her double. And let her know in advance. If she balks at that, ask her again, "What would you like me to do?" It's her call.

              Whatever she decides, write it down, in her own words, and make her sign it, so she can't change her mind later. Include estimated charges, and a disclaimer that you are not responsible for exacerbating pre-existing skin conditions.

              Your only other real option is to suggest she find another groomer, because you no longer feel comfortable grooming the dog.

              Last thought. Perhaps she should seek a second opinion form a veterinary dermatologist, and specifically ask about sarcoptes incognito. It's sarcoptic mange, but the buggies are so deep they can't be found in a skin scraping. Sometimes just treating for mange, even if no buggies are found, clears the whole thing up.

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              • #8
                First I'd try to explain that damaged coat is not good coat and it mats faster. Try to get the dog down to 3/4 inches at the next visit so hopefully you can grow good coat. A bath in between is a good idea. Maybe sh eknows she should do more brushing but that isn't your fault she should not try to make you feel bad because she is deficient. If you cna make it work then gradully increase the length to a littl elonger most people don't even notice the difference. i had ne client who insisted on a longer coat but didn't brush so i began to slwoly take length off..she didnt even notce then one day she came in and said she wanted it shorter it was too ahrd to maintain. So now he has a Wahl yellow and we all are happy.

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                • #9
                  It's possible that

                  she has PTSD or a mental difficulty. Allowing for that I still would refuse to groom that dog. It is indeed bad to brush out mats on a skin condition. It is bad for a skin condition to let the dog get dirty. If I'd felt overwhelmed I might too have cried like 4Sibes but since she is not taking good care of her little dog I most likely would have ended up stifling anger.

                  Even if I think of solutions, such as a brush out weekly or such, I think no, she's not treating you or her dog fairly. I've had a few beggers too. One little dog I am passing by is owned by such a manipulative "sweet" woman that I've decided a letter will work better.
                  Money will buy you a pretty good dog but it won't buy the wag of it's tail.

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                  • #10
                    awww I think some of you guys are being hard on the owner. She is obviously feeling frustration and guilt and just broke down. Owners love their pets and some are more sensitive then others to feeling like they are being criticized. It probably isn't just in grooming, but at the vet also. Skin issues are sooooooooooooooooooooo frustrating and expensive.


                    I have picked up quite a few clients who have left their groomer because "She made me feel like a bad owner" When it came down to it.. the other groomer and I told the owner the same thing, but we said it in different ways. I always try to take the approach with the owner that we are a team and I am on their team. (kind of stupid for them to get mad at their own teammate right?) I also appeal to their love for their dog by pointing out how the dog feels and how if we keep tugging on him everytime he comes in he will start to hate grooming and stress about it. It can sometimes be a process, each grooming explaining to the client "Well this time I tried this this and this" so they know I am actively trying different things to get the results they want.. Then if it doesnt work they see it is not for lack of trying.

                    I don't know. I am not quick to tell clients, especially distressed clients that I wont do their dogs because if you can work with them, they can end up being your most loyal trusted best clients who give you the most referals.

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                    • #11
                      The dog obviously has too much coat for the owner to keep up with, especially with the dog scratching and gnawing at himself all the time. If she was an owner that took responsibility for brushing her dog thoroughly as needed to prevent matting, that would be different, but she doesnt. No way would I further irritate already inflamed skin by vigorous brushing & de-matting. You are going to get blamed for that one, I can see it coming from a mile away...

                      How about this...next time the dog comes in with matts and tangles you show the owner the matts and what has to be done to get the matts brushed out. Tell her "I will be as gentle as I can be, but this is not going to be comfortable or pleasant for "Poochie" so I would like for you to stay with her and comfort her while I try to brush out these matts." After she hears her dog whimper and scream a few times, I bet she decides to go with the short clip. Some people need to see and hear it to make it real. If all they do is drop the matted dog off with you and then magically you give them a fluffy brushed out dog, they dont know what had to happen to make that dog fluffy. And how painful and hard it is on their dog.. I have had to show owners how painful it was to their dogs for them to understand that there is no magic conditioner or brush that makes the matts just fall out. It usually changes their mind about keeping all that hair or makes them conscious about daily brushing.

                      If that doesnt work, refer back to Helly's response...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jadenlea View Post
                        awww I think some of you guys are being hard on the owner. She is obviously feeling frustration and guilt and just broke down. Owners love their pets and some are more sensitive then others to feeling like they are being criticized. It probably isn't just in grooming, but at the vet also. Skin issues are sooooooooooooooooooooo frustrating and expensive.
                        Setting my goofiness aside for a moment....I strongly suspect you are right about the sense of frustration and guilt the owner feels. I have a kitty of my own in a similar situation, and it is a source of great sensitivity and frustration for me.

                        I really hope the owner/vet are aware of what Helly pointed out w/ regard to Sarcoptic Mange. I've known 3 Bichons over the years, that after all else was exhausted, were simply treated for Sarcops, responded, and viola...post-diagnosis, and happy dog, happy owners.
                        Often it's not what you say, but how you say it.

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                        • #13
                          When I read this part

                          "We discuss her options: 1) Coming in for a bath in between (hell no) 2) cut him short (hell no) 3) keep doing what we're doing which is destroying his coat, it looks like swiss cheese. (your work looks like ****!... no sh** sherlock!)

                          Oh, and I also only charged her $ 5 extra for something I would normally charge $20-30 extra for!

                          She also informed me that all this dematting, no matter how gentle is really bugging his skin. Sigh.
                          She left her previous groomer for shaving the dog. Gee, I wonder why she shaved him, hmmm? "

                          I see no wish to cooperate. I see the matting hurting the dog's skin and wanting only miracles from the groomer. I also see the groomer having to go the extra mile, taking time, but not even appreciated. I'm very kind by nature, but this would make me angry.
                          Money will buy you a pretty good dog but it won't buy the wag of it's tail.

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                          • #14
                            ..Briarpatch hit the nail on the head...she has other issues. Best solution: Prozac...for the owner. Her actions and her desired result are incongruient. There are other issues that she needs to address. Take the drivers seat, the bichon in the dog probably warrants a clip on 1" or less- push for a shorter clip.

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                            • #15
                              Poor everyone

                              I don't mean to sound like I am real knowledgeable on anything, but it sounds like she was having a meltdown because of something other than the groom.
                              Just like we all have bad days, she may have gotten upset over something else entirely and the dog issue just sent her over the edge.
                              I would give her a break and hope she comes in for the bath, and try to make her think of how you felt as well. We see our clients for such a short amount of time, and if you really liked this person before, I would say this isn't normal behavior for her. Maybe she has other issues you aren't aware of. I am pretty sure it was not you who caused the problem, I think she was on the edge of losing it, and her time came when she was with you.
                              I hope everything works out and if it was me, I would most likely wait a day or 2 and call her to tell her that you were upset about her being upset, and you just wanted to make sure she was alright. It would leave the door open and most likely she would come back in for the bath.

                              Another thing, on one of my dogs ( not a clients) was having skin issues, he was always itchy and he was always scratching or biting at it, we tried all the creams from the vet and nothing seemed to help. I also have skin issues at times, so I have Aveeno Soothing Oatmeal Bath Treatment, so I tried it on him. Haven't had a problem since. It's 100% natural Colloidal Oatmeal, and I let him soak in a sink full of it for about 15 minutes, and then just pat him dry and use cool air to dry him. No more scratching or redness on him.
                              Maybe call the vet and ask if it is worth a try on this dog.

                              Lisa

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