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I’m not a dog groomer, I’m a canine cosmetologist (in training)

October 22, 2010

Today during our weekly lecture course, Susan, owner of the Massachusetts Academy of Canine Cosmetology, handed out business cards to Kim, Claudia, and me.

I gave one of these cards to my 13-year-old neighbor, and she laughed at me. I think she's secretly jealous that I'm in school to do something fun while she's stuck studying algebra.

In her endeavor to “class up” the grooming industry, Susan believes that wording is key. Therefore, dog groomers are “canine cosmetologists,” bathers are “tub technicians,” and receptionists are “canine concierges.” Nail trims are “paw de cures” and nail polishing (with 32 colors from which to choose) is a “deluxe de cure.” Muzzles are “facial attire,” and crates are “condos.”

The Oster Power Bather

I might find such phrases to be laughable if Susan didn’t back up her vision with some pretty impressive services. During yesterday’s class, we learned to use the school’s bathing system–and it is indeed a system. A few years ago, Susan installed four Oster Power Bathers, which she says have saved hundreds of dollars on her water bill. All you do is fill the tub with about two to three inches of water and a cup of diluted shampoo, and a re-circulating pump produces a vigorous, penetrating, combing action that massages deep into the coat to remove dirt and dead skin.

The Prima

She also invested in a Prima, which, similarly to the Oster Power Bather, uses a pressurized system to reduce water and shampoo waste while effectively cutting through oil and dirt. The tank holds 14 gallons of water, and when used correctly, it should bathe between 20 to 25 dogs a day. (The Web site claims it bathes up to 40, but Susan said that’s a slight exaggeration.)

Every dog at the MACC receives two baths: one to cleanse and deodorize, and another to moisturize. The first bath is always done with the Oster bather, and the second with the Prima. White dogs receive an application of Les Poochs brightening shampoo before the second bath, and every dog receives an application of Spa blueberry facial scrub. Dogs who have skin allergies or joint pain receive an additional medicated bath with Susan’s own line of Zen Dog shampoo, which she makes with a blend of peppermint, lavender, frankincense, and rosewood essential oils.

Here is Sky, a Tibetan terrier, after a full "pampering session."

I was initially skeptical about the bathing system–it struck me as a bit of an overkill–but having bathed dogs for three years in college, I can attest that the Oster Power Bather and the Prima relieve a tremendous amount of back pressure. While advertisers claim both products are “hands-free,” I still use my fingers to help move the shampoo through the coat because I want to have a personal experience with each dog, and I believe physical contact is crucial when working any animal. The dogs looked absolutely stunning when they’re finished. I bathed and dried Sky, a Tibetan terrier with a full-length show coat yesterday, and I was positively amazed by the transformation.

Here’s a breakdown of my first day of grooming:

Number of dogs bathed: 3

Number of dogs dried: 2

Pros: The Oster Power Bather and Prima bathing systems are awesome.

Cons: I had to paint a bichon’s toenails. Who does that?


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