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Beauty is Pain

beary’s new haircut

Picture this: You’re leaning back in the hair salon chair eager to get your hair cut. The hair stylist commences the session with some observations she announces loud enough for everyone to hear. “Your hair feels really dry. I see some dandruff and you have so many split ends! You know, it’s really unhealthy.” Upon trimming your hair, her shears graze your left ear whereby it starts to bleed. No biggie. Some superglue will do. Working toward the right side, the blade nips at your other ear and that starts to bleed. “No need to panic, it’s just like a paper cut. You’ll live.” More superglue. She finishes off by trimming the back of your neck when she blurts out “whoops, looks like I nicked your neck!” Some toilet paper should stop that bleeding and the blood stain on your collar will wash right off.

Assuming you look like a top-notch 10, how would you feel?

When Shannon and I took Beary to the groomer, that’s exactly what we were trying to come to terms with after such an experience. We got a lecture about his matted hair upon arrival – a very public verbal beating, if you will –  endured the screaming agony of our dog getting all of his paws bloodied and yet he looked like a winning show dog in the end. 

At 9-months old, Beary’s made three visits to two different “professional” groomers in his life. Two out of three visits have been less than stellar. Mike’s description of his most recent visit is spot on. I should mention Beary’s hair was matted because the groomer before last burned him with the clipper so he had to wear a T-shirt to prevent him from licking the sore. The vet shaved the area and he was put on antibiotics for two weeks. The hair is starting to grow back. So now back to this last experience…

We went back to the original groomer, knowing exactly what we wanted his new hairdo to look like. Shannon bought me a doggie calendar with 365 different pictures of Westies for Christmas, so we swiped a picture we liked and jotted down some pointers for Beary’s haircut on the back. But as we would soon find out, those instructions proved to be somewhat pointless.

Westie picture in hand, I tried to tell her, the groomer, how we would like to have our pup cut. Shorter around the butt, don’t shave his eyebrows and keep his face pretty full. Did I get to say any of these things? No, because she did not care or have the time to listen and she just kept talking louder and louder so I would shut up, I assume. Now this probably has more to do with her personality than with me, but it was frustrating nevertheless. We left Beary in her hands hoping for the best.

We drove to Davis for a much-needed dogless break and bought some fresh Afghan spinach bread from the market, which got really mushy on the way back to Elk Grove. But that’s beside the point. We called the groomer during our day trip to ensure that Beary’s toes nails would be trimmed, as well. Turns out, that was part of the grooming, too. Happy thoughts so far. On the drive back home, we find out that the groomers declined to cut Beary’s toe nails because he gets too upset. We offer to hold him ourselves when we pick him up, so that his nails could be trimmed… and that’s when it happened.

Thanks Mike. Let me deal the drama. Mike and I hold Beary on the table and try to comfort him while his claws are trimmed. Beary is screaming, literally screaming, for mercy: “Don’t touch my toe nails!!!” He is beyond upset. Bear bites the groomer’s diamond ring and I secretly smile because this woman is so rude, and I realize it’s more than just her rough-and-gruff persona. Suddenly, Mike notices blood on the table, his shirt and our poor dog. The groomer stops cutting and puts a chalky substance on Beary’s toe nail to stop the bleeding. Then we notice that every single one of Beary’s paws is bleeding. I don’t do blood. I wanted to grab Beary and run out the door. Mike looked as if he was about to start spewing profanities, so I said, “It’s ok. This happens sometimes. It’s ok.” We both knew it was not ok. The groomer told us to rub a bar of soap on Beary’s nails if they started bleeding again, and we paid the bill. Mike held Beary in his arms as we walked to the car. I held back urges to cry and scream. 

Point is, a lot of effort goes into beauty, and sometimes you won’t even know what your dog went through to get that every hair strand perfectly in place.  Yes, both of us are more than apprehensive about taking our Beary back to that groomer. They’d get five stars in hair styling and one star in professionalism, which comes out to just about average. But in reality, I’d associate “average” with a more corporate grooming service, and Beary’s new looks suggest way beyond that. So we’re still sulking… but at least Beary came home to lots of love that day.

Shannon and Beary cuddling

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