Monday, April 19, 2010

A Cumulative Insight to Intergroom 2010 - Part 2

Somehow, I was perfectly fine on Saturday morning, despite the fact I danced until I almost dropped! Guess it's just the spirit of the trade show, haha!

As far as shopping went, Saturday was a little more hefty for me. I was amazed at the selection at the Frank Rowe booth and ended up with a few extras. Then, I ran towards the Groomer's Helper booth with Dianne yelping, "Chuck! Chuck! We need loops!" In addition to a hug, we each got two regular loops and a little one. Man, do I love those loops! Chuck, don't stop making them!

Did I mention I now have a reputation to maintain? I stopped by the Davis booth and one of the reps asked me if I was the dancing dog at Hershey. Oh man, people are already recognizing me! Just wait until they can do that for my grooming, not just the way I bust moves, haha!

Today was the day for breed trim classes. Jodi Murphy hosted the Cocker Spaniel seminar, which I found very informative and helpful. I'm going to take her advice on holding the hair when I bevel my feet. I've never wanted to groom a Cocker so badly, haha!

In between seminars, we ran into none other than Debra and Novi from school! After some talking about how we were hoping for a few more vendors to be there (Kenchii, we're looking at you!), we agreed to meet up and hang out after our classes were over. How cool, a mini reunion!

The Schnauzer class was also a lot of fun. The little guy, Riley, kept trying to paw at Jodi and Dianne Betelak, and was just adorable. I snapped a picture of him yawning! They used the new #6 blade on him, and I knew I had to get one; it made his back coat look very natural, and now I want to try it out on some shop Schnauzers!

The best class, hands down, was the introduction to the Black Russian Terrier. Cash (short for Cassius) was the biggest dog I've ever seen in person, dense and muscular. I'd be struck with nothing but paralyzing fear if I saw one of them coming at me! Cash filled me with a sense of awe; the big beastie on the table was dignified and regal. That is, until Judi started clippering him! He got nervous, as he'd never been clippered, and began to wiggle. Soon, mama held onto one side, papa held onto the other, and Judi stood in the middle, taking off all that thick hair!

At the end of the seminar, we got to come up to get close to Cash. Dianne couldn't stop touching his hulking body. I held my hand out, completely unafraid, for him to sniff. As I felt the rush of air going into his giant nose, I also felt a sudden and strong connection to him. I truly believe that some dogs and people can form an instant bond, and I shared a special moment with Cash, albeit a brief one. Even after we walked out that door, I was still in awe over the gentle giant propped on the table.

We met up with Novi and Debra, who both bought tickets to the Best in Show and John Nash tribute banquet. We went back to the room to change; Dianne wasn't going in ripped jeans, and I donned my Nash uniform. When we went back to the Expo Center, we all felt horribly under dressed - everyone was really fancied up!

The banquet began with a rice appetizer as the winners of all the competitions presented their dogs and were named Best in Show from their respective classes. Looking at those dogs gave me a good idea of what I ultimately want to aim for. Next was a chicken entree and the Cardinal Crystal Achievement awards, hosted by Lisa Leady. She ended up winning two of them, and cried for each one. Big congrats to you Lisa, you really are an outstanding example from our industry, and give each one of us something to strive for!

Emotions continued to run high as we continued with our tribute to John Nash. Judge Joey took the stage to talk about John Nash, the grooming innovator, and John Nash, his friend. I got choked up as he talked about all the things John did in the short time he was with us; I felt like I got to actually know him, even though I never met him. Joey showed us the video of the pilot Groom School, taped almost ten years ago. I was filled with mixed emotions as I watched it: there was the school I wanted to go to; there was the spirit I wanted to keep alive; there was the team who started it all; there were the scissorcises I'm still aching to learn! It was a wonderful tribute overall, and increased my drive to strive all the more. Now if only someone can show me how to boogie with a pair of shears...

There was music towards the end, but I decided to leave the floor to the seasoned pros this time. I sat with Novi, Debra, and Dianne; we gabbed until the party ended, then went next door to the Embassy's lobby to hang out. By the time we shared our funniest stories and were ready to say goodbye until Hershey, it was already close to 2 A.M.! Once again, I crawled into bed, ready for Sunday, the last day of Intergroom.

I'm still surprised I was able to wake up on time; two wild nights since I was in school, and I was able to function! Fueled by the excitement that lingered in the air, it was time to wrap this one up.

I admit, I went a little crazy with buying scents, but honestly, who can resist trade show deals? I got Show Season's Pacific Breeze, Mutt Magic, and Sugar Cookie. Davis had White Tea, Lavender Magic, and Plum Blossom; I got one of each! It's kind of ironic that I went so crazy buying doggy colognes, and then bought a bottle of Miracle Air from Chris Christensen. Guess that means that I can just spray one cologne until I get sick of it and then get rid of it, making way for the next one... yup, I've already done it several times!

The Espree booth had Plum Perfect shampoo as well as Berry Delight, which I never heard of. I bought a bottle to try, hoping it might "get all the shit out of the coat"! Haha! My last big purchase was a new Wahl Arco trimmer. Nancy lets me use the one at the shop now, but this way I'll have my own and she'll have a backup. I opted to get the special pink one, as some of the proceeds are donated to cancer research.

Classes were good, overall. The Poodle class contained several neat tricks for sculpting a perfect Poodle build, even on a not-so-perfect dog. Jodi's Clipper Tricks had several gems of information, although most of them I already learned from Nancy! Maybe I know a little more than I realize...

Anyway, the last class was an interesting one, although not what I was expecting. It's About Time, featuring Gary Carlson, was all about ways we can cut time wasters out of our schedule to make more time for us, and then celebrate having done so. While I liked the fact that he stressed the importance of positive reinforcement for people and made the class interactive, I was expecting to pick up some speed grooming tips. Well, at least I got a few good snippets out of it, and can easily apply them!

Dianne's husband drove up from Philly to help her haul her new table back home. I waited outside the competition ring while she searched for the perfect one. I got the chance to say goodbye to Chuck and Jorge, but not Joey. It made me really sad, actually; I wanted to thank him for the night before. He's one of the busiest guys I know... him and Xavier! Hehe!

The trade show was now officially closed. Vendors began tearing down their booths. Somehow, it just didn't seem right. I knew it was Sunday, but it felt like Intergroom ended too early. That's the one thing I will always hate about trade shows, they just never last long enough. The only other thing I don't like is that the people in the audience will usually talk during a class! I didn't sign up so I could strain to head the speaker while someone goes on about something irrelevant. What's one of my favorite sayings? Shut up, listen, and learn! Good thing I have a strong willpower, otherwise I just might shout that out someday!

Other than two gripes, Intergroom 2010 was truly a blast. It might not have been as wild and big as Hershey, but what trade show can compare to that behemoth? Intergroom drew a nice crowd, had a variety of vendors, and hosted some fun classes, not to mention I got to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Aren't those the main goals of any trade show?

I'm still quite tired from my trip home. Dianne and her husband left the hotel last night; she went to see little Etta and get her brand new toys ready to groom! I'm glad I stayed at the hotel one more night - I really didn't have even half an hour in me to drive. I love that feeling of complete exhaustion after the show's close, knowing you had a great time while improving yourself. No doubt about it, I'm completely hooked on trade shows. it bad I already have a list started for Hershey?

A Cumulative Insight to Intergroom 2010 - Part 1

So I've decided to split this in two, simply because there was so much going on! Apologies for not writing a day-to-day series of updates on this exciting trade show, the hotel I stayed at didn't have free Wi-fi. Still, I made a ton of memories at my first Intergroom!

Xavier went on vacation as well. I dropped him off at the kennel Thursday, just after 7 A.M. He wasn't too eager to wake up until I told him he was going for a ride. Even then, he was just too tired to jump and scream like he usually does. I love how he walks into the kennel like he owns the place, haha!

I stopped to see my aunt, went to get a coffee, and by the time all was said and done, I was on the road at 9, on my way to Philadelphia to pick up Dianne. I will never get tired of driving through Pennsylvania's rolling hills. One of these trips, I'll need to have someone along to take pictures - simply passing by all that natural beauty is a waste! Even the unnatural wind farms, which have grown in number since my last traverse through the state, are a sight to behold. And who doesn't like driving though tunnels?

Soon I arrived in Philadelphia. I never knew the city was so beautiful! There were tons of old neighborhoods everywhere, the yards of large houses filled with trees and colorful plants. The really fun part was getting to meet little Etta, Dianne's White Schnauzer puppy. Now there was a bundle of puppy joy if ever there was one! Combine cute, smart, and bouncy, and you have Etta.

Dianne finished packing, and off we went to New Jersey! On the way there, we talked about a lot of things, including how she needs to learn snap-on combs and how we've both been progressing in our craft. The trip was relatively quick, only an hour and a half from her house. We passed several--and quite varied--areas of NJ, including an industrial area. Now I know what they mean when they say it sometimes smells funny!

Our room was waiting for us. We checked in, put our suitcases away, and went straight down to the Italian restaurant. Talk about tasty! I had a delicious chicken francais, followed by a decadent piece of real tiramisu. We agreed that as good as the dinner was, it was merely a precursor of what was to come the next day: Friday, the opening of Intergroom! Neither one of us could sleep!

We woke up several times during the course of the night before the time finally came to get out of bed and ready for the show! We got to the Expo Center just minutes after the trade show doors opened, and were greeted by none other than Frankie Brown! I wonder if he got the crowd all riled up like he did at Groom Expo? Haha!

Upon walking through the doors, neither one of us knew what to do next. Rows of vendors lined the floor, and a competition was already underway in the center of it all. We checked out a couple of booths before our first class. I got to say hi to Jorge at Forever Stainless Steel. I asked him why he wasn't speaking, as he said he was going to. His response? "I have been, jus' so busy with my salon, so I was' jus' lazy an' didn' put anythin' together!" Good ol' Jorge, haha!

Our first class was about snap-on combs. Overall the presentation was good, although I disagreed when the speaker said you couldn't use them with a Clipper Vac. They actually don't cut much shorter when you use it, the Clipper Vac just makes the hair stand up, therefore saving you some time since you won't need to back brush as much. Other than that, there was some excellent information in that seminar, such as which breeds look better when done with the combs.

In between classes, Dianne lost her wallet. We retraced our steps and one of the vendors pointed us in the direction of the judge's pit. None other than Judge Joey was walking around inside! We walked up on the stage to get his attention. I said hi; he looked at Dianne and said that her wallet was at the front desk. Awesome! There were some goodie bags that caught Dianne's eye, and this is what happened next:

Dianne: Hey what are these? Can we have one?
Joey: Eh, I think they're for the competition. I'd let you have one, but I dunno...
Dianne: What's in 'em?
Joey: (digging through a bag) Looks like a Le Pooch brush, and some whitener (handing her the little jar)
Dianne: Hmm, whitener... what's the best whitener?
Joey: Um... (reaching for the jar)
Dianne: You can have it back when you tell me what the best one is!! (Playing hardball, anyone? Haha!)
Joey: (laughing) Honestly, the best one, they took off the market a few years ago. Why, I dunno. None of the rest really wow me.
Dianne: (still holding the jar) Is there anything else I can do to whiten coats? (handing it back)
Joey: Use product stabilizer before you use your whitener, it'll get all the shit out of the coat!
Dianne: I tried that, but it didn't work!
Joey: Then you didn't do it right!

Yup, Joey's still Joey, haha!

The Clipper Art class was alright. Nothing really surprised us, but there were some helpful hints given. Apparently, the best way to work on a Poodle is to imagine a giraffe. Makes sense, as both are long and leggy. That one ran two class periods. The first one was full to capacity, but only about half the people showed up for part two.

Shopping on day one was really light for me; all I bought was a smock and two pairs of pants. Dianne, on the other hand, bought a Kool-dry and one of the competition tables from Edemco! How exciting! We decided to head back to the hotel. On the way out, we stopped by the front desk to see if there were any tickets left to get into Joey and Doc Halligan's new talk show pilot taping. Sure enough, there were. Even better, they were free! The night just got better!

I have to say, Live with Joey Villani and Doc Halligan was a lot different than what I was expecting. Sure, there were segments where they talked with us as well as pet care professionals, but then there was the shock factor - asking people on the streets what their pets think about sex, and how Doc Halligan learned to give artificial insemination to horses in vet school! I actually want to see the show get picked up, as it has a little bit of, well, everything! The pilot will be finished in May. I can't wait to see the finished project, as there were several video clips we didn't get to see.

Dianne decided to punk out (her words, not mine!) of the party that followed the taping. Now it was just me and a bunch of people I didn't know; I was hoping to see someone from Hershey there. Jorge already said he couldn't come because he had to go take care of his Pom, Tito. "He iss probably crossin' his legs, waitin' for me!"

While waiting for the room to re-open, another loner came up to me and asked if I was there by myself. We got to talking; turns out, her name was Capri, and she's new on scene, like I was in Hershey in 2008. As we stood around and nibbled little cocktails offered by roaming servers, we covered topics that included but weren't limited to mobile businesses, products, and even a little bit of ethology! Any time I get a chance to discuss it and share the valuable resources from authors like Patricia McConnell, you know I'm going to do it!

The room opened up; all but one corner was dark, with the DJ hiding in the shadows with his equipment. Party lights covered the floor and speakers blared music loud, yet no one was really dancing yet. Capri asked him to play some AC/DC, and the room came to life! We danced to You Shook Me All Night Long and Highway to Hell before the room went calm again. The DJ began playing country songs, and a few more people got up to dance. I'm more of a classic country gal myself, so I went to get a Kahlua and cream. We got back into some modern party songs, followed by a techno remix of Cottoneyed Joe. How could you not dance a jig to something like that? I started to do the Russian kick, and soon I was out of steam. Another Kahlua and cream, please!

The dancing continued between my group (three more people came and sat at our table), a couple, and the table next to us. One of the groomers was really grooving! I wanted something I could really bust out moves to, and then it hit me: go ask the DJ to play Say Hey! I could always try my hand at dancing like I did in the dream I had before Hershey. It might look funny, as I'd be doing it solo, but I didn't care; time to really cut loose and have some fun! Sure enough, the song came on and I leaped onto the floor. I'm quite sure it looked like a train wreck, but I still danced like I've never danced before. I broke a massive sweat, was completely out of breath, but man was that awesome! Haha! I went outside to get a bottle of water, and ran into Judge Joey and Doc Halligan, talking to some other people. When I came over, they looked at me funny; here's what happened:

Me: Hey, y'all missed it! I just danced my ass off in there!
Joey: Come on, you're good to do it some more!
Me: (eyes wide, shaking head) Nah, man, I'm exhausted! Oh, Doc Halligan, nice to finally meet you!
Doc: And who are you?
Me: Just call me J.C.!
Joey: Yup. She's an Xavier fan!
Me: Yup, all the way! (tapping my left side with my right hand) Hehe!
Joey: Did you post on my Facebook?
Me: I don't think so. Not yet, anyway.
Joey: Oh yeah, you're from the Animal Planet blog! This is J.C. DogHero!
Me: Yup! So how is Xavier anyway?
Joey: He's good. He's showing dogs this weekend, otherwise he would've been here.
Me: Aww! Seems like that's the way it goes, we're always so close to meeting!
Joey: Haha, don't worry, you'll get to meet him, he's just out and about a lot...
Me: Yep. Well, next time you see him, tell him I said hi and... aww, well, y'know! You know me, Joey!
Joey: Haha, you know I will! (turning to Doc) So, what are you so nervous about?
Doc: What about our reputations? Will they be hurt doing a show like this? They didn't really give us any guidelines, and I know this isn't what people are expecting.
Joey: Eh, I'm not worried.
Doc: Well, yeah, you have a face for TV! But what about me? I'm a doctor!
Others: We liked it because it was so different. I mean, it has that selling factor to it plus some good advice...
Me: A little bit of shock and awe...
Doc: Yeah, that's it! (turning to Joey) Oh, and thanks for telling me my ear thing was falling out!
Joey: Hey, I couldn't get a word in, not a word! I tried doing this (quickly gesturing to her ear), but you just weren't getting it!

Haha, it was like watching a snippet from Groomer Has It, the way those two have at each other! The conversation pretty much continued like that, then I went back to go dance. I was almost completely exhausted by that time, though. A few songs later, and the DJ closed the party with some Lady Gaga. It was raining and cold outside, which is probably what kept me alert enough to make it back to the room. I crawled in bed and hoped I wasn't completely debilitated the next morning... haha! Hard to believe that a third of the show was already gone. Two more days to go, baby!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Enough is Enough, you Whipper-snappers!

That's what two dogs would've told me the other day, if they had the ability to speak English.

Two old dogs, a brother and a sister, came into the shop for a bath and neaten. We're not talking eight or ten years old, but sixteen - each! You wouldn't have guessed it from looking at the sister, as she was the calmer of the two. Her brother drooled and panted in his crate while waiting for his bath.

Sis was OK in her crate, but was crying and whale-eyed for her entire bath. I'm guessing that it was the water that was making her panic, because she seemed to ease up a little when I blew it all off. She got to relax in the crate dryer while I got her brother in the tub. He was acting a little squirrelly, so I had the idea in the back of my head to prepare for the worst. Good thing I did - when I turned the dryer on, even with just one motor, he completely wigged out. Thrashing, screaming, and snapping at the air, the poor dog was in full-on panic mode. My first thought was to restrain him so he didn't hurt himself or me. He ended up biting his tongue and flinging a few spots of blood on the tub. Not as bad as I was prepared for, but enough to leave me a little gun-shy of the HV for a day! We put him in the crate dryer with his sister and called mom.

Now, neither one of them ever had a bad reaction to being groomed. We thought it was just that time when age caught up with them, and that their tub days should become a thing of the past. We let them relax with each other in the dryer for a little, then I got the girl out and did her nails, with no problems. Same thing for her brother, he was a total sweetheart for his paws - definitely NOT what I was expecting after his encounter with the dryer! He even gave me a few friendly nudges, as if to say, "Thank you whipper-snapper, I'm getting too old for this!"

I'm glad mom was understanding about everything, but I hope that clients in the future can be the same way. We see people's dogs more often than the vet, after all, and something like this temperament shift is not to be taken lightly. Also, owners need to know how strong a dog's breaking point is, and what better place to hear that than from the groomer? I know that those two dogs are going to have a good road prepared for them, one of ease and quiet. What more could an old dog ask for?

This has got me thinking that someday, I'd like to offer a waterless treatment for senior dogs. No tub and no dryers. Just get 'em on the table, spray 'em good, brush 'em down, towel 'em off, all done! Sure, it won't get them as clean as a regular bath, but there is only so much an old dog can tolerate. Hmm, maybe I'll end up using Dogs in Style?

Wag on, my wise old four-legged friends!