Grooming the Dogs

A few years ago Mike and I were cutting our expenses back and deciding what was a want and what was a need.  One particular expense line item we got stuck on was:

Dog grooming -$100 every three months.

$400 dollars a year to keep our two pups pretty and trimmed (or at least not completely mangey and dreadlocked).  We really wanted every dime possible to go towards paying off our debt but both of us hated to groom the dogs…and they didn’t care for us to do it to them either.  Having someone else groom them was not a need but we really really wanted it to be.

Mike and I split most of the chores around here.  We’ve been lucky that the things he doesn’t like to do I don’t mind doing and vice versa.  Dog grooming was something neither one of us enjoyed.  There was no flipping the coin on this one either because it takes two people to accomplish this task.  Now for those of you trying to solve our problem as you read this (cause that’s what I’d be doing).  You’re probably thinking: ‘Duh, don’t groom them’,… it’s not an option.  Both of our dogs have hair not fur.  Their hair grows like humans…it doesn’t stop.

Ping ready to be clipped

Ping can barely see through his bangs

Our white dog, Ping, is a Shih Tzu and his hair is fine and tangles easily.  About 5 years ago we decided to let his hair grow out like those show dogs.  The girls had the chore of brushing him every day.  I was bathing him weekly and Ping never looked better.  His hair was flowing off of him and he looked like a Harlequin romance novel coverdog.  I’m pretty sure even our black dog, Archie, was jealous.

The weeks turned into months and the girls lost interest in brushing and I lost interest in keeping after them every evening to brush him.  His hair began to knot a bit.  Just about this time we went on vacation and left the dogs with a friend.  I think I said something like, ‘I know Ping is looking nappy (I think his coat was tuning into felt about this point) but don’t worry, I’ll deal with it when we get back’.  She probably heard,’Blah, blah, blah…Ping… Nap…blah.’  While we were gone it rained and rained, the dogs got muddy like dogs do and Ping’s coat became one big knot.  My friend was feeling so responsible she took the dogs to the groomer.

The groomer decided to cut his entire coat off…even his head…down to the skin…like a sheep.  Turns out Ping is a pinhead.  Who knew?  For whatever reason the groomer did the same to Archie.  I guess he wanted them to match.  My friend spent the next few days consumed with guilt until we came home.  When she told me the story she was near tears.  I, in turn, felt so guilty for putting both her and the dogs through the entire ordeal.  From then on the dogs got trimmed  when their hair was a few inches long.  Many of my ideas are much better in theory.  This was no exception!

Archie ready for a belly scratch

This is what I call the 'muppet' stage for Archie

Fast forward a few years and Mike and I are leaning over our spending report trying to wriggle out of the inevitable.  We knew we had to groom the dogs ourselves.  We invested in a professional pair of clippers and scissors and went for it.  It takes about four hours to get both dogs done.  Four hours of sitting on the hard floor trying to contain the wiggly Ping and console the shaky Archie.  We hate it and they hate it.

To spice things up sometimes we try different hair styles on them.  One time we gave Ping chaps.  Picture him  completely shaved except his legs and head.  He walked just like a bow legged cowboy. We thought he looked fantastic!  Another time we just shaved Archie’s legs so he looked like Lamb Chop.

Lamb Chop or Archie?

Lamb Chop or Archie?

Last summer Mike was gone for a week so I thought I would surprise him by grooming the dogs.  Since you have to have someone hold Ping to cut him I decided to clip him with the scissors when he didn’t know it.  I kept the scissors out and whenever I caught him napping I’d clip a bit off.  The result was a very choppy cut, not the best.  My friend, Juliette, gave me such crap and told me I had to fix him.  Archie on the other hand was quite delightful and I was able to get most of him done.  Boy was Mike surprised (not so much in the way I was hoping)!   Eventually he helped me even Ping’s haircut out.

We love our dogs.  For all the grief they give us when we groom them they make it up to us daily.  They are the sweetest dogs we’ve ever had.  They don’t yap and their poops are always tiny. They keep up with me like nobody’s business on my uber 8 mile hike up Atalaya mountain every Monday.   I’m sure they’d have something nice to say about us too if they could speak English.  Or maybe they would just request new sweaters.

Ping and Kitty

Ping and Kitty (AKA- a gratuitously cute pic. of the cat & dog)

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  1. Mike's Mom
    Posted December 2, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    My solution is to find a groomer willing to barter for some of your eggs, chickens, honey, veggies, computer skills, etc etc — you have so much to offer!

    • Posted December 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      That’s a great idea.  We are bartering for a few other things so I don’t see why we couldn’t add in grooming!

  2. Anonymous
    Posted December 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    If you’re looking for more ways to save money is to consider a raw diet.  We have 5 dogs and 3 cats, and they all eat a raw diet.  We save a fortune by buying things like chicken backs (which we grind), trading with some hunters for deer carcasses that they’d normally leave in the field, and growing our own greens to add into the food.  I think we end up spending under $1/pound of food. For your little fellas, it’d probably be cheaper.

    It’s messy and takes some work, but if you have freezer space it’s definitely worth it. (Plus, it’s better for the dogs!)

    Let me know if you’re interested. Always happy to discuss it with folks!

    • Posted December 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      I never thought of that.  Next time we butcher the chickens rather than dumping left-overs in the compost I think I’ll grind it up.  We have tons of greens from the garden we could add in too.
      Years ago I took care of my friends dog.  They didn’t have a dime to their name but they loved this dog like it was their second child.  They feed it raw meat (very expensive) that I had to cook for the dog.  It was a total pain in the butt having to cook up 3 meals a day for this dog.  I like the idea of raw, and we do have freezer space!

      • Anonymous
        Posted December 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        We don’t cook it at all — they say cooking takes out some of the nutrients, and cooked bones are flat out dangerous (raw bones the dogs love). Best part of raw feeding? There’s usually less poops, and they get hard and crumble after awhile.  I see kibble-fed poops now and wonder how people can deal with them. 🙂

        Here’s what a typical dinner looks like for our animals (from my better half’s blog):

        Even if you supplement raw meat it can help cut some costs, and the dogs do great on it. There’s some excellent books out there on formulating a raw diet, and tons of stuff on the ‘net. 🙂 Let me know if I can help point you in the right direction at all.

        • Posted December 4, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

          I checked it out-great site.  It seems like a project worth pursuing although I think I’m going to wait til spring- we have no room in our 3 freezers!

  3. Posted December 3, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Molly, I have to tell you I had a little dog that could have been Archie’s twin sister.  Her name was Lydia.  I miss her so…  I use to groom her too.  She was a little sassy and didn’t particularly enjoy the whole process but I managed.  I know I saved a small fortune in trade for a bit of my time.  Your babies are so cute!

    • Posted December 4, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Do you know what kind of dog she was?  Archie was a rescue dog and we figure he’s got some poodle and terrier in him.
      We spent about 9 months fostering small dogs.  It was hilarious having all these tiny dogs running around our house.  Out of it we found Archie!

      • Posted December 5, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

        I got Lydia from a breeder who rescued Chinese Cresteds.  They swore she was a “powder puff” crested.  I never believed it though because I had another dog that was a crested (with papers) that didn’t look a thing like Lydia.  The picture of Archie on the couch looks identical too her.  They looked slightly different after haircuts – of course that could be the sylists – lol!  She’s been gone awhile and I still have dreams she visits me.

  4. Natalie
    Posted December 3, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Next, we want to see pics of the DIY grooming process.

    • Posted December 4, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

       You know in our house nothing goes without documentation 😕 !  The pics. turned out terrible so we decided not to post them.  We’ll try again. 

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