To celebrate Spring Break this year, while my compatriots are out softening their calloused souls in Cancun and Daytona, I went to Target and bought a dog grooming kit. This is a deluxe dog-grooming kit, with two different sizes of clippers, six blades, a pair of scissors, and a DVD to explain how easy it is to give your dog a professional haircut at home. What could go wrong?
The first thing I did was show the kit to the dog, who went and hid in the Boy’s room. Then I watched the DVD. A woman with amazingly perfect pink nail polish was giving a bichon frise a haircut. For a few minutes, I actually thought the dog was dead. He lay on his side while she groomed his perfect white fur, with nary a snarl or a dreadlock in the whole business. Then she rolled him over, and he proved himself to be alive by actually raising a paw so she could trim between his toes.
She cut the fur between his eyes with the little trimmer, and he just sat there. This dog had been given, best I could tell, a puppy Percocet; he was more relaxed than a faculty member in a swim-up beach bar. When the haircut was over, he was a little snowball of fluffy cuteness, smiling at the camera and wagging.
The woman also demonstrated the clippers on some other dogs, including a standard poodle who, when she finished, looked like a complete twit, which is the natural state of poodles. Our own dog is half-poodle (the digestive half; he has a full complement of shedding from some other dog in there, but he throws up like a champion). He has long, curly hair that is as coarse as a goat’s and tends to mat into dreadlocks if it’s over an inch long.
He had not been clipped in a year.
I have refused to take him to a groomer on account of, the last time I did that, he came back looking like a Mexican hairless, with a little tuft at the end of his tail. We were both so embarrassed that he had to wear t-shirts until his hair grew out. (He also had razor burns on his tummy, which did not make us happy, either.)
Of course, this does not mean that my own attempts at grooming him are unilaterally successful. Usually one side is pretty good, and the other side looks like he’s been attacked by a rogue weed-whacker. This time, though, I had watched the DVD and knew how to approach matters.
Armed with new knowledge and a pocket full of Milk Bones, I dragged the protesting canine downstairs and hauled out the clippers. I turned them on and gave him a treat. He tried to bite the clippers. He backed away, furiously munching the treat, and attempted to hide under a chair. He soon settled down, though, and things were going really well until I realized that he only wanted his right side clipped.
This is a little bit like allowing a two-year-old to select his own haircut. I insisted. He resisted. More treats, some scissoring of big dreadlocks, and he still wouldn’t turn around. It took my Beloved and some bits of roast beef to convince him to turn the other way. I do not want to think about what’s going to happen when that fails to digest, but I am getting ahead of myself.
His doggy body was shaping up well, and I was feeling like the woman in the video, only with worse fingernails. Then came the face, which, as per the advice of the experts, I did with scissors. Unfortunately, let’s just say it can be really hard to tell what is matted hair and what is ear, and it’s important not to get that wrong.
When we got the bleeding stopped, everyone was traumatized. More roast beef, more Milk Bones, and some snuggles ensued, just enough to allow me to clip his legs and part of his tummy. The video did not explain what to do if the dog being groomed is not comatose and weighs more than five pounds. Our 55-pound dog had had enough, plus, his ear was sore.
Our floor was covered in two inches of dog hair when the back doors blew open, scattering hair everywhere and sending the dog bolting back to the Boy’s room. I let him go. He’s a little lopsided, and he doesn’t have razor burns . . . he’s got a cut instead. I am spending my Spring Break getting dog hair out of every corner of my downstairs. Perhaps this is best left to the experts after all.