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When is old, too old?

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  • When is old, too old?

    Just wondering how old and feeble a dog needs to be before you finally tell the owner it's best to do minimal grooming...just enough to keep them clean and comfortable? I'm asking this becuz I have a newer customer (80+ year old woman) that has a 17 yo peekapoo. I did this peekapoo one other time before today. They (her and her grown daughter) wanted Benji shaved...face and all. Well, Benji has other ideas. He gets around ok...he can walk, but can't hear, can't see, has cruddy skin, and is a serious biter during grooming. While trying to groom him, he hated everything about it...the water, the dryer, the clippers. It was very difficult to perform the cut the owner wanted and he was extremely stressed they whole time trying to bite me. Well, before I left the last time, I told them that I wouldn't perform a full cut on him anymore. I felt for his own health and well being, that I would just come and do a bath/tidy/nails...just enough to keep him cleaned up. I reminded her when I arrived today for his 2nd appt that he was just getting a bath/tidy. Well, she started arguing with me saying that he "HAd" to be cut! "He's always been cut every 6 weeks his whole life". Well, ma'am, he's had A LONG LIFE...and now it's time to just keep him clean and comfortable. She argued some more and I explained to her that my living is based on me keeping the use of my hands...everyday! If Benji would bite me bad enough, I could be out of work. There's no one to cover you when you're mobile. Was I wrong to stick to my guns on this issue? I don't know if she'll keep her next appt, which I could really care less since he was a major PITA anyway.

    What do you use as a cut off for deciding when a pet shouldn't be stressed with full grooming anymore? jw

  • #2
    The dog usually tells me through the way they react for grooming. I groom a really old, frail Schnauzer ( I think he is 15 now). The owner really like a Breed trim on the dog but he wasn't standing for it anymore. He started getting really cranky for things that never bothered him before. It got to the point that I couldn't hardly touch him without him freaking out. So the owner and I had "The Talk"....I told her that we were going to need to think more about the dogs comfort for grooming and less about looks. She agreed and we now start with the necessities and if he still has patience I will try to do some light trimming. I also request she stays for the grooming process to help......that really enlightened her as to what I am dealing with. he is now in a 1" guard trim and really really cute. I find that the long guard still looks good even if I can't get him totally neatened up. but it is still short enough for the owner to maintain easily.
    Mandy, Birdie, Evie, Willie and The Woo
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    • #3
      When it is unsafe for you and/or the dog, and from what you say, it is time.


      • #4
        I try to approach the owner from the dog's point of view, not ours. Not, "I am having difficulties" but, "Poor Fluffy-wuffy is just getting tired so quickly. I dont want to tire her out, she is having a hard time, etc etc." That way when I slip in the inevitable conclusion the owner (usually!) understands, and also doesn't want to put up the appearance of willingly putting their old dog through stress.

        I also have a blanket policy that I will not accept new clients over the age of 14. (and I'm thinking of pushing that back to 12.) I find that a lot of older dogs that have had a regular groomer find themselves in the same predicament and then call around trying to find a new sucker to stress their dog out after having been told sometimes numerous times that their dog cannot safely be fully groomed any more!

        If your instincts tell you its not safe, it's NOT SAFE!!! Next time, think how quickly that owner will be calling for your head should the dog die while in your care even if they've been warned. That's pretty good motivation for me. At that point, it is what is best for the dog, not what the owner wants.
        There are 3 different kinds of people in this world: Dog people, cat people, and rational people who don't have a problem liking two things at the same time.


        • #5

          we get this maltese (17 years old).. and gosh darnnit i wish they would let him rest and enjoy his lift..

          hes overweight.. cannot walk.. we tries to bite but to be honest the only thing that really scares us is his breath..

          hes sweet when we put him in the cage he stays in whatever direction he is in.. i mean if he goes head in first he stays that way until we take him out.. (its really cute)

          but i wish they would stop bringing him in monthly and maybe at the last come every few months..


          • #6
            I work at a vet so they expect me to be able to groom anything! Ugh...of course I'm only one person and the techs are usually too busy to help me. Just because I WORK at a vet doesn't mean I AM a vet! A lot of the old dogs I get have seizure or heart conditions too so they can't be sedated. I have a few that I groom with a tech holding them gently on their side, gauze tying their mouths shut, and their vitals being monitored. I'll usually groom what I can, shave them down as much as possible in 15 minutes and then they go home. I usually skip the bath.

            I had one heart breaking case where the dog was so matted that it couldn't move and when we shaved the matts, skin just fell off. The owner hadn't had it groomed for 8 months because she -thought- it was going to die. After over an hour of gently shaving it, I got it clean and as comfortable as possible. Then the owner came and decided to put him down. -.- Absolutely tore me up.

            I'll try harder to groom the old poodles, maltese, etc...basically the ones that get matted to the point where they're in pain. But the old shepards, labs, etc...I tell the owners that it might be best if they just use some waterless bath wipes and keep them clean at home.


            • #7
              I have a few that won't be "with us" much longer and for them, I do what the dog will allow safely (their safety). Of course, these dogs don't try to bite me and that's a whole different situation. A dog that is trying to bite and flipping out for the grooming process is subject to passing on your table and I would probably ask the client to accept what's good enough and let that be it. If they weren't understanding about the dog's situation and the place they are putting YOU in, then I would no longer book them.

              I'm so glad I have very understanding clients that LOVE their pets and want only what's best for them


              • #8
                Originally posted by Nadu View Post
                When it is unsafe for you and/or the dog, and from what you say, it is time.

                I recently told a client who has been coming to me for 7 years that I could no longer groom her 18 year old Peke. Fortunately for me, the owner completely understood and said she had just been telling her husband that having me groom him was unfair to ME. This particular dog has a heart condition, and on top of the fact that the once wonderful dog has become irritable, I was afraid he was going to keel over on me right after he sunk his old teeth into me.

                Sometimes we feel defeated when we can't do the job, but I would rather temporarily feel defeated, then to live with the guilt when a dog dies on my table, regardless of whether or not the dog is older then dirt or has a health issue. I wouldn't feel to bad about that woman getting upset with you. If she gets that upset over you refusing to groom her dog, imagine how she will act if something happens to the dog while in your care. It will be YOUR fault.

                As for bites - I've been dwelling over THAT situation since Monday. I had a Schnoodle at my shop Monday who wigged out and nailed me on my finger. Not a "bad" bite, but it did draw blood. I put the dog in a cage to let her chill out and tend to myself, and then attempted to finish her.... because I'm stubborn like that. Got the dog out of the cage (after putting her muzzle on) put her on my table and started hooking her up to my GH. She started wigging out again, got her muzzle off and nailed me AGAIN. This time putting a tooth into my fingernail on the same finger she had already munched on. That was it for me, and I called the owner. The owner apologized, while acting very surprised, and then asked me if I would be willing to groom her again since she "really didn't get me bad". **sigh**

                Some people just don't get it.


                • #9
                  With dogs that are in "God's Waiting Room", if they are having trouble dealling with a full groom, we will break it down into sessions over the course of a week so the dog doesn't get all stressed out at one sitting.

                  One day we do any prep work that needs doing, one day for a bath, third day a haircut or trim.

                  Might be a bit of a scramble on the owner's part, but it is easier on the dog.


                  • #10
                    I had that dog of my own...his last haircut was a half inch all over-head to tail-with a clean face-I was barely able to do his legs even, I just ended up scissoring them up the best I could because I couldn't really clip them. Ugly? You bet...but a pretty haircut just didn't work for either one of us at that point. Now I can tell people that-yes, I did the same thing with my old dog-and leave it at that. How can you argue? I get really frustrated with those who think their dog NEEDS to be fashionable when it is no longer possible to do so-both for their safety and ours.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Doubledogdare View Post
                      With dogs that are in "God's Waiting Room", if they are having trouble dealling with a full groom, we will break it down into sessions over the course of a week so the dog doesn't get all stressed out at one sitting.

                      One day we do any prep work that needs doing, one day for a bath, third day a haircut or trim.

                      Might be a bit of a scramble on the owner's part, but it is easier on the dog.
                      That is not really practical in a mobile unit.
                      "We are all ignorant--we merely have different areas of specialization."~Anonymous
                      People, PLEASE..It's ONLY a website!~Me


                      • #12
                        You can't really pinpoint a specific age. A 12 year old Standard Poodle is a lot older than a 12 year old Chihuahua. So you have to really look at the individual dog and decide, based on his physical presentation, if he's "too old" to be groomed safely.

                        I'd start by just looking at him. Does he have muscle wasting? Can he stand unassisted. Is he shaking? When you handle his ears, are they cold to the touch? Is his belly distended?

                        Then I'd look a little deeper. Check for dehydration. Check his gums. Does his breath smell like urine, or rotten fruit? Does his breath smell like rotten teeth? Listen for wheezing or coughs. Does he react painfully when you manipulate his legs or neck.

                        If you're seeing signs that point to problems, you should probably ask the owner to have their vet check the dog and give you a written statement that it's okay to groom him. I'd also make that SOP for any dog that can be considered geriatric.


                        • #13
                          I just told a client I would no longer groom their schnauzer as it was no longer safe for either one of us. the dog was totally stressed during the grooming; screaming, barking, falling, just unable to deal with the whole grooming process.
                          Fortunately mom and dad were more worried about the comfort of the dog than the way he looked.

                          I think deciding when old is too old, depends on each dog.
                          ~*~*~Shawn, C.M.G.~*~*~
                          Apparently common sense isn't all that common
                          *~*~emipoo on egroomer*~*~*


                          • #14
                            I specialize in senior and special needs pets. I have never had anyone question me about what i felt was safe or right for their pet, thankfully. All have understood that I am thinking about their pets's best interest. It would drive me insane to have a client like that, insist on something that simply was too much for their poor pet to handle. I have had poodles over the years, that although were still able to be groomed, clean feet were getting to be too much so I would suggest teddy bear feet to the owners and tell them why. None ever had a problem and a few thanked me for being concerned enough to tell them. I don't understand people who put a haircut over the comfort of their pet. Whether it's age, or "it has to be dematted" kind of thing. Thankfully the only senior dog I do that's a biter is a Chihuahua, so that's pretty easy. Not that he has many teeth left.
                            Every dog I take on an individual basis. i started grooming one Westie at 15 that would still do backflips (literally) for her mom, dance on her hind legs and twirl. She lived to be over 20 before I lost her as a client. My Toy poodle was great right up to the end for the most part. She was 19 and my little girl had a stroke. But up until then she still got around very well, could see and hear. S he was slower and had some arthritis, but even the vets told me they felt she was in very minimal discomfort and probably only after a long rest she might be stiff. They were shocked at how wonderfully she aged.
                            You need to know what your, and each pets, limits are. Never feel bad for sticking up for yourself, especially when it's to try to make a pets like more comfortable.
                            What a caterpillar considers the end of his world, we call a butterfly.


                            • #15
                              I had one 16 yr old yorkie, all skin and bones, that I made the owner get a note from the vet before I would touch it. The dog passed away about 2 weeks later.

                              Another elderly poodle that I had groomed at my new shop for a while was getting to where she couldn't take it anymore. Her last groom I had her dads stay with her the whole time. They saw how she reacted to the grooming and they ended up agreeing that enough was enough.

                              Another 16 yr old Westie came in because they didn't like how the other groomer did it. The dog was stressing out, biting and teeter tottering all over the place. I got bit, and had to try to scissor the face with a muzzle on.

                              The owner called back and wanted me to take the face shorter. I said no. I told her I would not do the dog again and it was in the dogs best interest to be groomed by a vet groomer so they would be right there should the dog stress out too much.

                              My short answer is when the potential for danger to either the dog or the groomer is too high, the dog should refused. You can't groom everything.