In Style

Melinda Owsley  |  Professional Pet Stylist

Trends change they always do but the one thing that always appeals to the eye is balance. We are wired to recognize it. You will see it. Every home, regardless of decor. Pictures, wall hangings, curtains, etc… There is a balance to style and if there is no balance…wow it sure stands out.
I came from the corporate world where we did cookie cutter cuts. Thankfully I had the opportunity to attend the wonderful Paragon School of Dog Grooming, and I always strived for more.
What I see at many shops is the bladed all trim. #7 thru #3 3/4 all over with a round head. While this is simple, neat, and clean it leaves no room for creative flair, flaw correction, and in many cases leaves Poochie looking like a bobble head.
What about time? People don’t want to pay more and time is money after all??? How do we maintain a timely service while individualizing each pet?
I built my local popularity by doing simple trims that create balance. I use snap on combs. I generally clipper the body and jump two steps longer for legs and head. This naturally creates balance. Combined with correct product selection, I always recommend a premium line, and proper bathing and drying technique, I can do a style trim as fast as I can shave a dog down.
Espree even has products that can add volume to a floppy head, allowing for efficient shaping.
When you take these steps as a stylist you will create a following. You will set yourself apart as a groomer and will have your customers regularly commenting how their pet has never looked so good.
Find your style, find your balance, make your mark!!!

All Mixed Up!


Article written by: Melinda Owsley

In the words of the great Bob Dylan…the times, they are a’ changing.  17 years ago, when I completed grooming school, we focused our main attention in breed standards. I remember the Complete Dog Book from the  AKC as one of our primary text books.  We focused of pure breeds because that’s what we mostly worked with.  Pure bred dogs got groomed, mixed breeds ran around back roads in the country.  Today, probably 75% of my clientele fall in the “designer breed” category, and are most certainly “groom dogs”.  I go days sometimes without seeing a purebred dog.
This bothered me greatly, when the phenomena began.  I didn’t want to see us lose the value of our purebred dogs, but mostly, I didn’t like seeing my clients lied to and exploited, by the ever famous, pocket padding, breeder of the non-shedding, non-matting, doodle.  It hurt my heart to see breeders that work so hard to preserve and protect their breeds, get passed over, in search of an even more expensive mutt.  I’ve come now to just accept it.
I see so much ugliness on the professional grooming groups, in response to mixed breeds.  So much disrespect to the owner, of said mixed breed… So much personal offense and indignation. Jokes and cutting comments when legitimate questions are asked. “What is the best length for a doodle?” “A #7f all over!!!” Tons of laughter… It’s getting old, groomers.  While I agree that we are responsible for educating our clients, we should do so gently, and by leading with example.  I don’t consume animal byproducts anymore… How obnoxious would I appear if I were a waitress,  taking an order like, O…M…G… you want steak??? I hope you like diabetes, then proceed to make their order look and taste horrible, just because I could? This may seem ridiculous, but is our general attitude really that different?
I don’t support or recommend any dog be bred, sold, or bought, unless it is by a dedicated breeder that health tests and guarantees puppies.  I personally own two wonderfully bred Standard Poodles and a Cocker Spaniel.  My clients see this, my clients get my advice if they ask for it.  I lead by example.  I personally feel if you aren’t willing to invest in a dedicated breeder you should adopt.  Indiscriminate breeding didn’t start with Doodles.  Allergy ridden, bad bite, bad eyes, ill tempered, fiddle fronted, Shih Tzus made up LITERALLY 75% of my clientele for a decade. When it wasn’t them it was a warty, puss eared, pooping Cocker on my table…all of them were “purebred” but no closer to breed standard than I was… Society is never going to make sense, they are always going to go from one goofy trend to the next. Personally, I prefer Doodles and Mixiewhatsits to the Shih Tzu and Cocker of yesteryear.
I give my mixed breed clients the same care, consideration, time, and quality work as I give my pedigreed crew… I use the same product, strive for balance, and work to find each pet’s perfect trim.  Why? Because I like money, I like referrals, and I love tips.  I am a stylist, and I approach my clients in a non-judgmental way.  I have specific products I use on apricot Poodles, due to the texture of the coat.  I love Espree’s  Keratin Oil Shampoo, and Aloe Hydrating Spray as a light conditioner, then follow up with Boost spray to help lift the floppy coat…. My Doodles get the same thing…. I want them balanced and beautiful… Not shaved down because I’m too good to groom a mutt.
It saddens, me just like it does my industry peers, that we are loosing the public’s interest in the wonderful sport of purebred dogs.  However, at least in my region, I have seen a drastic increase in the quality of care and value placed on the canine family member.  This is my main concern before anything else.  My clients hire me, because I come highly recommended, and I give them the best I have, regardless of papers… Because that’s what I do;) Happy Grooming Everyone!!!

How To Grow Coat

Shannon Moore, NCMG  Director of Grooming and Education, Espree Animal Products

I am frequently asked how to grow coat on a dog?  I have an extensive background in coated breeds as I grew up raising Yorkshire Terriers, and now I raise and show Bichon Frise. I hear some pretty interesting concoctions regarding expediting coat growth.  Years ago, many people would joke around saying I could grow coat on an onion if I tried.   I thought I would share a few of my simple, yet effective ways that have worked for me.

Whether you have a show dog, contest dog, or a client dog that you want to grow coat on, keep your expectations realistic.  My goal is always about an inch of coat growth every 4 weeks.  Average coat growth on a heathy coat is an inch every 6 weeks.  But, if you want to expedite coat growth you must be consistent with whatever regiment you choose.

A very simple way to expedite coat growth is keep the coat clean.  Every time I do maintenance baths, I always condition the coat.  This helps lock in moisture and improves the elasticity of the coat making it stronger. Often, I will condition the dog and wrap them in a warm towel for about 10 minutes, then rinse.  Also, never brush the coat when it is dirty as it will break.  I typically bathe and condition a dog I am trying to grow coat on twice weekly. You must be consistent.  Trust me, there are many times I come home after a long day and the last thing I want to do is bathe my show dog.  But, I do it anyway.  Consistency is the key to success!

If I find, I am still struggling for growth, I might add some nutritional supplementation to their diet as well.  A good omega added to the food daily never hurts to keep the skin in coat in great condition.

The Magic of Aloe Vera


Shannon Moore, NCMG Director of Grooming and Education, Espree Animal Products

All Espree products contain organically grown Aloe Vera from the inner filet of the Aloe plant in place of water.  Aloe Vera provides a wholesome solution to meet the needs of so many pets.  It is chocked full of beneficial nutrients that act as a powerful skin hydrator.  Aloe is absorbed into the skin 4 times faster than water. Aloe Vera has an abundance of healing properties as well.  It exfoliates the skin helping to remove dead and damaged skin cells.  It also helps decrease itching through its anti – pruritic properties.  It also has anti-microbial properties with its ability to kill certain bacteria, yeast, and fungus.  It promotes healing so wounds and skin irritations heal approximately 1/3 quicker than normal.  The healing power of Aloe Vera is like magic.  It brings immediate relief to allergic rashes, sunburn, insect bites, and minor abrasions while simultaneously alleviating swelling and boosting immune response.

Tips to Protect Your Dog’s Paws from Hot Pavement


Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming & Education, Espree Animal Products

It’s that time of year again… the warm summer months, many owners like to take their dogs out for long walks.  It is a great way to spend some quality time with your four- legged friend, but many owners forget one very important detail.…. hot pavement will burn your dog’ s feet.  It is tempting to take your dog everywhere with you, but you can cause serious harm to your pet if you aren’t extremely careful and cautious about outside temperatures.  If the asphalt is too hot for your feet, then it is too hot for your dog’s feet.  Hot asphalt can result in horrible burns on the pads of your dog’s feet.  This is especially true if you have a young puppy with tender pads.

Here are some tips to help protect your dog’s feet from the hot pavement during the hot summer months:

1. Walk your dog early morning or evening when it is a bit cooler outside. The pavement is the hottest in the afternoon or early evening, so avoid the pavement with your pooch during this time.

2. Stay on the grass when it is hot! When you are taking your dog on walks, try to stay in the shad and on the grass whenever you can.  Remember when the asphalt is so hot that you can cook an egg on it, it will more than likely burn your dog’s feet.

3. Moisturize your dog’s feet.  Try to keep provide protection to lock in hydration to the pads of the feet.  Dry pads are more susceptible to cracking, abrasions, and peeling.  Dry pads have a tendency to be more susceptible to burns from hot pavement. Consider moisturizing your dog’s pads daily, especially in hot weather, to help prevent injuries and burns.

4. Toughen up your dog’s feet.  During the cooler seasons and cooler times of the day, try walking your dog on the pavement. The hard and rough surfaces will toughen the pads of the feet.  This will provide a natural resistance to damage from hot surfaces.

5. Use Paw Balm. Espree’s Paw Balm can be easily applied to the pads.  Paw Balm is designed to protect your dogs feet from potentially harmful surfaces by helping to provide a protective barrier.

These tips will help keep your dog’s feet safe from the dangers of hot pavement during the summer months.  Be sure to keep a close eye on your dog from any other heat related injuries as well.

Have you ever helped a homeless pet?


Sarah Drouin NCMG – Pet Tech CPR CErtified – Award Winning Stylist – www.theplushpooch.com

There are many ways you can help.

A lot of people are aware of donating money to a local shelter.

Did you know they take items for dogs; such as dog beds, leashes, bowls, blankets, etc.

These dogs are sheltered but still have no home to call theirs yet.

Dogs that you see on the street, well this can be tricky. You never know if they are friendly, and you don’t want to get hurt.

You can lay food and water out to help them. I will say that you can put out a kennel with food and water in it and safely capture them. Then you could transport them to a shelter.

If you are anything like me, anytime I see a loose dog; I always try to capture them and find their home. 9/10 they are lost, and do have a family searching for them. I provide them with water/food and a safe environment until I get in touch with their owners.

Another way, is if you do capture one and you are able to take them to a spay/neuter clinic, do that.

It’s rewarding helping dogs who are homeless, or lost.

Scissoring Spray

Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education, Espree Animal Products

One of my favorite things to do is hand scissor a dog into a beautiful pattern.  Groomers are artist. We have a gift of being able to create a gorgeous piece of work using the hair.  It goes without saying that dog must be clean and the skin and coat must be in good condition in order to accomplish this.  But, what else does it take to create our beautiful finished product?  Choosing the right equipment is necessary.  That doesn’t mean it has to be the most expensive, but it does need to be in good working order and properly maintained.  Choosing shears that work best for you and your hand is vital too. In addition,  we need to be able to choose the right products for the coat type. I also believe it is important to use a scissoring spray when styling a pet.

Rather than allowing a coat to work against you, scissoring spray will help the coat work with you. It not only will help reduce the static, but it will also allow the coat to be more pliable. Remember, you do not want the coat to be damp or wet, but rather a light mist so the coat will stand up and allow you to scissor the dog.  The use of scissor spray throughout the groom helps create a smoother finish on the dog because the coat is working in your favor.  It doesn’t fall down like it normally would if I did not use it. It also helps keep the coat hydrated and in the best possible condition.  Of course, I want my groom dogs walking out the door looking their best.  But, I also want that groom to look good next week, the following week, and so on. Keeping the coat in the best condition possible and putting a great finish on the dog allows me to do my best work.

Making A Dog Who Has Never Been Bathed/Groomed Feel Like New

Brian Tupes, About Pets Center  |  Salem VA

At some point you have seen it walk through the door. The dog that looks like it has been left outside its whole life and never been bathed or groomed. It is important to make this dog feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible during the whole process.

Having a relaxing calm environment is a must to reassure the pet.The way you talk to the dog will set the tone for the groom. Soft soothing tones from you will let them know there is nothing to fear,also call them by name as much as often as you can. The bathing ritual should be very relaxing for the dog.

I find the Espree line of shampoo and conditioners a great asset to establishing this experience. The scents in this line of products helps to calm an anxious dog during the bathing process. I personally want to make this time with the dog to be the most relaxing it can be.The shampoo make a great cleansing lather getting a squeeky clean coat. A little neck massage, circular hip rub down and a good butt rub seem to do the trick. It gets them into enjoying the bath.

When I get the eyes rolling up into their head I know it is working. Next the conditioner gives the coat its luster and softness without weighing down the hair. Really work it in with your fingers the dog enjoys this as well. Let the conditioner soak in a bit. If the dog has serious eye boogers dab some conditioner on with your finger ( Careful of the eyes here ) and gently rub on. In a few seconds it will loosen up those rock hard drainage clumps and makes removing them a snap. Rinse the coat thoroughly, dry well, and you will have a soft, clean, very relaxed dog to work with on your grooming table.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Shannon Moore, NCMG  |  Director of Grooming and Education Espree Animal Products

Every pet stylist has those strong, energetic, and determined dogs that truly test our patience when they are being groomed.  Hopefully, we don’t have too many, but we usually will have at least a handful.  After all, groomers have a passion and love for animals that is second to none.  The difficult ones need to be groomed too.  So, how do we handle this strong, energetic temperament without letting it ruin our whole day?

We need to figure out a way to transfer positive energy to these dogs when they are in the salon. Every morning, we must prepare our self for the day.  We do it for ourselves and we should do it for the dog’s that we will be grooming for the day. Try to bring your best self for the day.

When these more challenging dogs are on the table, remember to center yourself.  Try not to get upset or frustrated ( I know, it is easier said than done).  Just take a moment and breathe. We do not want to project any anger, fear, or uncertainty.  What we project to the dog, they will project right back to us. They will feed off of our emotion.  You must stay positive, calm, and be in charge.  Heavy handling is not an option.  Not only is it unacceptable, but it gets creates a negativity about grooming. We eventually would like them to enjoy or at least tolerate the grooming process. Always try to put your best food forward and do the best you can.

Puppy Grooming 101


Shannon Moore, NCMG | Director of Grooming and Education Espree Animal Products

We always see in increase in young puppies in grooming salons during the spring and early summer months.  As they appear on the books, I always find myself hoping the puppy has come from a breeder that has worked with them on grooming behavior.  Or if it is a rescue puppy, maybe the foster home has had the opportunity to work with the young dog too.  But, sometimes we aren’t so lucky for one reason or another.  It then becomes my job to teach the puppy how to get groomed and make it an enjoyable experience.  That first groom is so important.  We must keep the puppy safe and at the same time make it an enjoyable experience for the pup.

Depending on the circumstance with the pup and what I have scheduled for the day, determines if I try to get the puppy in and out of the salon quickly, or I might choose to keep it longer and put it on the table several times to get through the groom. Most often, I try to get keep the puppy for a brief period of time to help minimize stress.  I let the client know that if the puppy needs to take several breaks from being on the table, I might be calling asking for a few more hours for the visit.  When they know this ahead of time, and I explain how I want to make it an enjoyable experience as it sets the pace for grooming for the lifetime of the dog, they seem to be more understanding.  As long as I communicate with the client and let them know why I might need to keep the puppy, they are more understanding.  So not only is it our job to teach the puppy to enjoy being groomed, we have to train the client to do what is in the puppy’s best interest.

Grooming a puppy for the first time can be very scary for the young one.  If the dog is on the smaller side, I will often put the dog on my lap holding it close to my body for the first nail trim.  I lower the tone of my voice and try to comfort them and offer praise when we are finished.  I always keep one hand on the puppy at all times when on the table.  After all, being on a table can be a scary thing for the puppy.  I also take the time to massage the pads of their feet, and familiarize them with the sound of clippers and scissors.  I even will gently hold their face under the chin as if I were going to trim the face. I pet them and give them a little massage to get them to relax and begin to trust me.  If the puppy is really nervous, I might not do a full groom the first time.  Sometimes, a bath and tidy is a better choice. If this happens, I ask the owner to bring the puppy back in 2 weeks for another groom.  Even though puppies can take more time to groom, I want them in the salon every 2 to 3 weeks.  I want to take the opportunity to teach them Puppy Grooming 101 so they can enjoy coming to the salon.  After all, I plan on grooming those puppies for their life time! I want them to have fun and behave so as they mature, I can put a cute, stylish trim on them!