For Halloween I decided to dress Bonzai as Glenn Close’s take on Cruella de Vil. My three year old son, Talon, was a Dalmatian puppy. I used Chris Christensen’s White on White, Thick n Thicker, and After Bath for the first time since Bonzai was a teeny puppy. She was softer than ever… but also tangled quicker than she ever had.
Next week, I bathed and fluffed her as usual, using IOD Nutrient Masque to (hopefully) Assist in rehydrating Bonzai’s coat, which had developed more tangle than usual. She continued to tangle easily, on a daily basis, leading me to scour Google for a local mentor to teach me how to properly band and wrap her coat during this trying time.
Lo and behold, I discover a local member of Groom Team America. I write to her and she generously offers to assist me in learning how to properly band/wrap. I am on cloud nine. What follows is a thread I began on petgroomerforume.com:
I’m attending the ISCC Master Styling symposium in February, and wouldn’t you know it… Bonzai, my spoo, is tip toeing into Coat Change. At the first appearance of mats I knew I had to learn how to wrap her hair. I googled for Poodle Handlers, Poodle Show Groomers, and Master Groomers in Albuquerque. The last search was the winner, because I found [website]. I didn’t recognize the name, just skimmed the website and wrote off an email asking for advice.
I received a reply first thing the next morning. She invited me to her grooming studio and offered to show me how to properly band and wrap Bonzai’s hair. Now, I didn’t have any idea who this woman was, I don’t know what I was thinking. I suppose I expected some gruff, impatient veteran groomer who would sneer at my corporate/forum education and novice attempt to grow coat. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
I arrived to her home with Starbucks and grooming tools, and went down some stairs into her studio. I nearly fainted. The lobby area is lovely, clean with nice couches and chairs, a coffee table stacked with color portfolios… and displayed in tasteful collections around the room more grooming awards than I could count. A veritable tower of trophies, plaques, medals, ribbons, lighted display cases. I babbled out something inarticulate, shakily set down my armful of supplies, and dashed back to my truck to get Bonzai. Oh my god… this isn’t some retired handler, this isn’t some local groomer who’s competed a few times… this is a REAL COMPETING GROOMER!
As we spoke, I was still reeling from the beautifully framed photos, a different breed in every one. I still wasn’t quite grasping the magnitude of *Anon’s* career, but I was getting close. We discussed my goals, Bonzai’s structure and coat quality, and my dedication to what I’m trying to accomplish. I bathed, dried, and fluffed under supervision, learning techniques I’d only read about here [on PGF](ie ear flushing), and asked hundreds of questions. She is amazingly patient and kind while offering tips. It was so incredibly awkward, I felt like a baby bather again, but never once did she talk down to me or treat me as an inferior groomer.
She showed me how to band and wrap Bonzai’s topknot, neck and about halfway down her back. I learned that I really screwed up by trimming her back hair and have a long way to go in coat growth. I was given the titles of a few dvds and websites to order supplies. She insisted that any extra money I have should be put toward buying a fluff dryer, and expects me to have one by the next time I see her. Yes, I have a second opportunity to learn from her, I go back in January to learn how to do spray-ups.
This has been the most amazing day of my career, and it happened in Albuquerque, NM… the last place on earth I expected to meet a professional competing groomer.
7 days later, I felt Bonzai’s banded areas and my heart sank. They were solid squares of matted hair. I prayed the mats would come out with some work… I prayed in vain.
I soaked each mat in heavy-duty Dematting sprays the next day and gently picked at each mat with my trusty Les Pooch brushes over an 8 hour work day. I broke the first commandment of Growing Coat out of pure desperation and used shears and thinners to break up the chunks. I brushed gently, lovingly, and gradually more desperately until I realized that I was fighting the inevitable… and inducing brush burn despite my precautions.
I used a 2 wahl cc and removed her jacket. I used a Buttercut 5 and 7 on her crest. In less than 15 mins, I had removed the carefully cultivated coat I’d worked so hard to maintain and grow.
Bonzai is now in a Miami, about 3/4in long on her body. I am supplementing, raw feeding, and continuing weekly bathing to encourage coat growth before the ISCC symposium in Feb.
Despite it all, I have to say.. I love her in a Miami. I just hate that I failed at growing coat.