Unless you've been living in a cave, you have probably seen the headlines regarding a number of fatalities at Petsmart for dogs that have gone in for grooming. You can read one of the stories here:
I spoke to someone involved in the companion animal grooming industry who requested anonymity, to get their take on what was going on. For context, they have worked with animals for over three decades. Their observation was that it was most likely a training issue, i.e. that professional groomers know how to read dogs and how to handle them. I'm sure there are many very professional groomers who work at the big box stores, but if they are inexperienced groomers, that opens the door to not being able to read an animal. Since I was familiar with reading animals through my wife, and I knew her hospital takes great pride in being a fear free clinic, I decided to speak with her.
Monique, as one of the owners of Harmony Animal Hospital, agreed with the training issue angle. She said that she indeed had been keeping up with the coverage, and she said the first tip-off that this was a training issue was that a bulldog that went in for a trim was in for over one hour with three empolyees. She said that most likely the dog did not want to be there and was stressed. And by forcing the dog to participate in something that it clearly did not want to do, they were stressing it out. This would be the opposite of a fear free approach. Another issue is the brachephalic dogs don't handle heat well so the dryers can be a problem. Throw some stress on top and now you have a dog that can't cool off and is starting to have problems breathing.
I can tell you from experience that Mr. Bishi, one of our bulldogs, never had a problem getting his nails trimmed. See video below.
But Lola, our new rescue? She does not like to have her nails trimmed. So you have to be well trained to recognize when a dog doesn't want to be there. And you cannot force them to undergo something that is stressing them.
Subaru has zeroed in on individuals who share their lives with companion animals and for a good reason. What they get are the nuances associated with the breeds - in this case, the bullies. This is exactly what our bullies (we've had four of them) would have done. They would have paid half of their attention to playing, and the other half attempting to do their job. Subaru nailed this.
Creativity is a funny thing. Both Monique and I have been wanting to do our own thing for a long time, we've just had a hard time figuring out what that might be. Both of us have never had an issue with "writers block" - i.e. we have no shortage of ideas, just a shortage of time. When I was laid off, Monique and I decided the time couldn't be better to take some time to work on our business plan. We knew it would involve our love of companion animals and staying active. At the same time, I returned to doing some artwork for the first time in a long time. Ahem. Like thirty years or so.
Long story short, we ended up developing a series of designs and we've been getting feedback from people with companion animals. I, as the artist, figured everyone would think the artwork sucked and the message was solid. Much to my surprise, people really, really like them! With that being said, we're slowly rolling out the first ten designs, then we'll follow up with the next ten. Etc. Yes, we have a lot of designs, but once you start feeding the creative beast, it gets hungrier.
Sit tight because we're just around the corner from releasing our designs.
We are days away from launching what is a new product for the crew at Keep Wagging. We've had many people ask for, and now we're going to deliver, a series of greeting cards for those who share their lives with companion animals.
I can't show them to you until our photographer produces the product shots, but I can tell you about them. The first four cards in the "Life is Short" series focuses on a lesson than our companion animals illustrate almost everyday, whether we notice it or not. "Life Is Short...Play!" will show our companions in all their glory as they break down the 4th wall in our designs. It is a subtle reminder that life is indeed short and we have to remember to play. Take the time to actually enjoy yourself and take a break from work and worrying about things, that in the long run, are irrelevant to the time that we spend here.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.