I groomed a West Highland Terrier the other day. It was a rough day. You see as a groomer sometimes you get the rare moment when you are blessed to connect on a soul level with an animal. This Westie was adorable and in true to Westie form a challenge to groom. Her big round eyes looked up at me and for just a second, flashed a familiar expression. In that instant, I saw the face of a beloved long since passed customer of mine, Shelby.
Shelby was one of those Westies that groomers love and hate to groom. She had perfect confirmation. A true beauty to behold. A coat that was exactly what it should be according to the breed standard. Shelby also inhabited the attitude that she was allowed to bite you if she thought you deserved it for any infraction she deemed annoying.
When she came to me, we just connected. Eye to eye, soul to soul. Oh hell yeah she bit me, a lot. But then as she came back in time after time she lessened her hand line on touching her face, legs, feet etc. The weeks grew to years and she stopped biting all together. At least me, she bit the bather, my assistants, the receptionist, the other groomer, my mom, my apprentice, but not me. We were cool like that.
It’s been a long time since Shelby was on my table. I have groomed many a Westie since then. I am not sure why, but this one the other day just had that little extra spark to her. For that moment it brought tears to my eyes. I do think it was her. I think she popped in just to say hi to me. To let me know that old dogs may leave us here on earth to miss them, but that they are never really gone. They touch our hearts and souls so deeply that they really aren’t ever gone completely.
It made me think of an old blog post I did in 2011 about her. So to honor her again and thank her for just stopping by to say hi, this repeat post is for you my Shelby Girl. Thanks for dropping in on me my love, say hi to everyone on the other side for me. You are dearly missed still today….
I had a rough day the other day! From grooming the two whirling dervishes, otherwise known mini Labrodoodles. I swear they are the sweetest dogs around, but they cannot stand still for more than five seconds. Which makes giving them a haircut sort of like chasing a two-year-old who is running with scissors. I was exhausted after these two. Thank goodness the other four dogs I had today were a breeze. Stood still, didn't bite and actually acted like they were concerned with getting a quality hair cut at the salon. Some dogs just don't appreciate a nice relaxing day at the doggy day spa. But they do love their groomer and lavish me with kisses, nudges and tail wags all while I am wielding an electric clipper and 10 inche shears. No blood was shed, well a little of my own, but the doodle sisters left the salon looking canine chic and unscathed. Wish the same could be said for me, their groomer.
I wonder why so many dogs that I groom, just don't appreciate the luxury of a berry facial, a pawdicure, and a hand scissorrf hair do, created just for them. Possibly because the bath time massage, includes the expression of their anal glands. Some just never get past that. They look at me from that moment on as if their canine rights have been violated. Some just downright hold a grudge and won't even let me in that area for the rest of their time at the salon. I have to resort to harnessing them up on the table so they can't sit, while I trim tails and fannies and sanitary areas. All the while whipping around looking at me like "EXCUSE ME...but do I know you well enough for all this?"
Which brings me to another canine conundrum, if they are so opposed to any "beautifing" of that area, why do they insist on making that area the official hand shake of the dog world?
I just love the clients that bring in their fluffy dog and say, I don't care what kind of hair cut they get, but please make sure you shave their butt good. I have to laugh, and then I tell the dog, your mommy wants you to have the Brazilian bikini wax, or otherwise known in the biz as the baboon butt. How embarrassing to be walking in the dog park meeting head on with all your doggie friends and then going in for the canine universal greeting and the other dogs, seeing all your personal business just out in the breeze. No fur covering anything for modesty, nothing left for the imagination. I am sure it must have raised a few well-manicured eyebrows, and not just on the Schnauzers, since they always have to have a shaved behind. But you know those Germans are always very liberal with their sexuality and nudity.
Highlight of my day, I got to groom one of my favorite clients today. A little Lass, named Shelby. She is a beautiful white west highland terrier. If she could talk to me, I know she would have the thickest Scottish brogue and be bawdy and tell me limerick type jokes. She is an old girl of 15, and has weathered some storms, from a stroke, to arthritis, to a new kid brother. The brother is a Corgi Border Collie Mix. Riley is a riot. He looks like a border collie that has dwarfism. His legs are short and stubby, that's it. The rest of him is all border collie. I always tell him he can heard miniature sheep and horses, to this he barks and sits on his rump and raises his front midget legs, with a smile on his face and tongue hanging out. Sort of telling me, bring on the sheep and horses, heck I will herd household appliances if you let me. He is the bain of Shelby's existance. He came when she was all settled in to being the only dog for a total of 14 years. Talk about being the one and only. So for a few grooms I had to be careful of the bites on her ears and tail from the new baby brother. Always a lady, she would tell him off, but never broke the skin. I am sure she wishes she could say the same for his behavior. Shelby comes in every two weeks, looking like she is a little grey ball of steel wool. Full of cockleburs, sticks, grass and other objects. Even at 15 she gets out often and explores every bush, shrub and low tree in her area. She is indeed a true Highland Lass. After her spa treatment she is restored to a beautiful glowing white and sets out to do it all over again. Her walk is a little askew after her stroke, she is a tad blind, almost totally deaf, but she knows her way to her favorite crate at the salon and she knows me. She greets me with a wag of her tail and a nudge and kiss when I pick her up and ask her...how's my favorite girl. Her mom always lets me know that she must love me, since she is a Tasmanian devil at the vets and can nip at strangers, and isn't fond of everyone she meets. Some dogs, just have excellent taste, I tell Shelby.
Post Script: RIP My Shelby Girl 3/1/11 You will be greatly missed xoxo