Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Odyssey of Heath the Poodle... or "Bowser the Schnauzer"

A lot of the grooms I do come from pampered pets, and others are done for rescue dogs. Each and every one holds a special place in my heart. Recently, when the shelter got a Poodle surprise, I took one little guy to a whole new dimension of style. Just how much can one groomer do with a Poodle, anyway?

Two weeks ago, I went to the shelter for my weekly rescue groom. Alyssa, our director, came running up, excited about something. I knew that it wasn't going to be an ordinary day! Seventeen miniature Poodles were rescued from a puppy mill bust; some went to get groomed, but eleven fell under my care. And so began what we dubbed as Poodle-Palooza, a two-day event of mats, grime, shave-offs, and compassion!

Only one Poodle got styled that weekend. The apricot one I dubbed Pooka was one of only three with halfway decent coat, and was scheduled to be fostered that night. I put him in a manly German trim. As for the others, they were matted beyond saving, and there were several that had corded. With the help of my German Red clippers (now known as the B.F.G.), all of the Poodles were freed from their hairy straight jackets. Some topknots were saved, some came off with the body coat. One stood out from the rest: a little male Phantom Poodle. While I couldn't save his topknot, the hair on his face was in good shape. I left it to see if there might be something I could do for him.

Originally, Poodle-Palooza was to be a three-day event, with baths and styling on the last day. However, all of the Poodles went to foster homes early. Boo. I had ideas for styles on the ones with some coat left, and they were all gone. I also thought of the Phantom boy.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Who's waiting for me in one of the kennels? None other than the Phantom boy! Now designated Heath, the little rascal was sitting quietly in his kennel, looking like a ragamuffin. Suddenly I bubbled with excitement - there was one that I could still work on! I decided to make him look like a little Schnauzer; the hair on his face was still in good shape, and I figured I could fashion eyebrows and a beard out of it.

Heath was very shy at first, slowly climbing into my arms, then whining in the tub a little. Once he was dry and saw the clippers, he immediately relaxed. Must've remembered how good he felt after his last encounter with them! At least this time I didn't need to take a #10 blade or shorter to him! He grew quickly; I used a #6 to set his pattern and still got quite a bit of hair off. Now Heath was starting to gain some confidence, barking at passers-by. "Get out, it's MY turn!" he seemed to shout, haha!

As I was finishing him up and putting the final details on his head, one of the other volunteers walked in. He howled at her, definitely playing the part of a Schnauzer! I asked, "Doesn't he look like a Schnauzer?"

To which she responded, "I didn't know we had a Schnauzer! Is he up for adoption?"

I had to chuckle. "This isn't a Schnauzer. He's one of the rescue Poodles!"

Honestly, I was proud of myself for doing such a good job on him. Nothing about the cut said Poodle. A second volunteer came in and declared him "Bowser the Schnauzer." Afterward, we sang The Look to him, because he definitely had it! There wasn't anyone who saw him without cracking a smile. Plus, he was prancing and waving his paws all around joyfully; he knew he looked good!

It really IS amazing what you can do with a Poodle!