Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday - a Good End to a Great Show!

I'm sitting here now in my hotel room, gazing at all the bags that litter the floor, thinking not only about the treasures that they hold, but also about how much fun I've had. Groom Expo doesn't disappoint, and this year was certainly no exception!

Tosha and I waited outside the trade show doors until Frankie let us in one minute early - thanks Frankie! :)
I picked up some last minute goodies, including moisture magnets, backup ear buds, flea spray, and some of Espree's Plum Perfect for my coat, hehe! At their booth, I saw Judge Joey walking by. Hoping I could set up something with him this afternoon, I asked him what he was doing. Turns out he too is involved with SuperZoo and was on his way out of town! I have a feeling that we'll be able to sit down and talk someday, but now he's really got some work out out for him - my portfolio is only going to get bigger from here! ;D

Somehow I managed to snag a front-row seat for the first class, Poodle to Portie. Michell Evans showed us all kinds of tricks to take an elegant little body and make it look blocky and powerful. Now if only I can find a Poodle to try this out on!

Sunday's luncheon was full of giggles. Mr. B hosted once again, this time bringing a green screen and several TVs with him. Volunteers put on green capes and their heads were projected onto a body of a professional dancer, all complete with animated backgrounds and music ranging from guilty-pleasure country tunes (Sparkly Barkleigh did Achy Breaky Heart with the hotel staff!) to Sir Mix-a-Lot! I was hoping there would be a bigger screen so I could get some pictures, but it provided a good laugh nonetheless. There's a certain element missing from the luncheons now that Judy Bremer Taxman is retired, but Mr. B definitely keeps the spirit alive!

While thoroughly enjoying a pecan-encrusted chicken with peach sauce (I'm starting to drool just thinking about it!), I spoke with columnist Kathy Hosler. She will be featuring several of our comments about the Expo in next month's Groomer to Groomer; look for my name when you open up that magazine!

A new friend was sitting at my table as well. We shared a table at the Cocker class on Friday night, and she said that she was inspired to come for the whole show next year, just by talking to me! I can't help but feel honored that I've helped someone to improve her confidence. It's one of the best feelings in the world! Speaking of helping others, I think I sent about five people to Gilly's booth; just like me at Intergroom, everyone has to have those awesome shear bracelets! Hope he has some cool new stuff for me in April! ;)

Off to the next class! I heard that Daryl Conner's 101 Practical Grooming Tips was a good one to take. All of the reviews were spot-on: the seminar itself moved at an aggressive pace, and although many of the tips were common sense, there were plenty of gems hidden in there. I've got some new techniques--including the "Vulcan death grip" and twisting drop ears to achieve an even scissor finish--to put into practice right away!

The Kenchii booth held a very special raffle today. Several months ago, Lisa's daughter was killed in a car accident, and the other family's medical expenses have been going through the roof. The Leady family decided to raise as much money for them as possible, and so Kenchii held a special drawing for a wine basket and two special brushes, each framed and containing colored dog hair - one from Lori Craig and one from Dawn Omboy. Guess who won Dawn's brush!

I'm glad to have something that needs to hang on my wall, but also very honored to help out Lisa's cause. She is one of the biggest sweethearts I know, and I'd always be ready to help her out however I could. Lisa, we love you! Don't start crying! ;)

I wanted to get Dawn to sign it, but she won the wine basket; we speculated that she ran off to her room to have a little private party, hehe! I'm coming for you with that awesome brush at Intergroom, Dawn!

The last class of the day - and the Expo - was already upon us. Tosha met up with me at Nancy Ward's class on being your own boss. Plenty of good business tips were shared, which is what I'll be needing someday. I can't say that I'm the most business savvy person out there, and since becoming that was one of the tips, this was perhaps the most useful seminar - the best for last!

Tosha is driving home as I continue to type. After saying our goodbyes, I felt a familiar lump in my throat: it was officially over. Through hell and high-water--literally--groomers from every corner of the country came to celebrate the profession, and were now heading back. Booths were being broken down, extra merchandise packed away, and Groom Expo 2011 is now nothing more than another blissful memory. Although I might sound like a broken record when I say this, there is so much truth behind these words: I am blessed to be in an industry where everyone can come together and have the time of our lives with people we've never met. One weekend makes all the difference in the world, and there's a new invigorated flame lit inside our hearts. Where else but Hershey can one get a feeling exactly like this one? I can only hope that other groomers share in the magic I feel, combined with the hope that the next year will be even better.

The end of Groom Expo is bittersweet. Although a great event has come to a close, it only means that I get to be reunited with Xavier tomorrow and take new knowledge (and toys!) home to the shop. A bright new year is just starting to poke over the horizon, and with the experiences I've shared here, I say, "Bring it on, baby!"

See y'all next year!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday Night Fun, Saturday Spending and Showcasing!

Ah yes, where were we? The Friday night preparations were made, which involved me putting on my 2011 costume...

Originally I wanted to do an off-duty lifeguard Portuguese Water Dog. It was brought to my attention that it wouldn't be a tourist. Darn! My mind went back to all things tropical and landed on the hula skirt. What happens when a Schnauzer isn't groomed right? Put on a Hawaiian shirt and a lei and you have...

Tropical Schnauzer!

So how surprised was I when three other dogs came walking in? Don't get me wrong - the costumes were cute, but dog suits are my style! Guess that makes me a trendsetter. That was the group that won first place. My hat goes off to them, but just remember one thing: you guys may have gone wild, but to paraphrase one of the first songs of the night, baby I was born that way! ;D

Anyway, the main attraction of the night was the green screen jet ski. Complete with air to blow your hair back, everyone was eager to hop on and take a ride!

And what's better than a Schnauzer riding a wave? ;)

Tropical themed groomers from all over hit the dance floor. There wasn't as much of an island music selection as I would've imagined, and it was mostly rap, but Mr. B kept the tunes spinning all night. Thrown into the mix were classic Groom Expo party songs like Michael Jackson, Cottoneyed Joe, Thank God I'm a Country Boy (complete with the bubble wrap stomp!), Cupid Shuffle, and others. All in all, it was a great night!

One thing I do have to say though: I felt so much better after taking that stuffy beard off! :)

Tosha and I woke up Saturday morning, groggy but ready to learn and shop! Our morning began with a seminar on setting yourself apart from other shops, but it wasn't really what either of us expected. A lot of the advice given was good old-fashioned common sense: keep your shop clean, hand dry all dogs with coat, and the like. However, the one thing that made the seminar worth it was the Christmas idea: a clear bulb with a lock of hair and tinsel inside, possibly painted with the dog's name on it. What a great memento! Maybe we can do that at the shop this year?

The trade show was in full swing with the feeling of energy and insanity vibrating down the rows of booths. After picking up some shampoo orders for Nancy, I ran around in typical J.C. trade show fashion: every and any direction, like a maniac! ;)
After buying some nail pens from Show Seasons, I went to the Groomer's Helper booth to see Chuck... and to paint one of Mark's nails blue! Gotta love my wacky trade show buddies; where else could I do something like this?

The second seminar in my day was hosted by Olga, who demonstrated a trim on - you guessed it - Bichons! The most impressive segment included her detailed explanation of those little puffball heads, a point that most anyone would love to brush up on... figuratively speaking! I feel like she was absolutely right when she said that the proper finish can only be achieved with shears; snap-on combs can come close, but there's nothing like carving out and then shaping that little fluffy ball.

Saturday's luncheon was not only delicious, but fun as well! After a buffet of delicious pan-seared chicken and potatoes, Mr. B. hosted a version of Minute to Win It. All of us contestants were given a different wacky activity to do, everything from putting a lampshade on our heads with a fishing line to shaking all the tennis balls out of a box strapped to our butts! Me? I got off the hook easy, yanking all the tissues out of a box! Everyone got a Barkleigh bag. You can never have too many of those!

This is what handstripping from hell must be like!

Still stuffed from lunch, I headed down to Diane Betelak's Wonderful Wheaten class. OK, so the Wheaten wasn't so wonderful, as he had peed all over himself. Ah, not only a Wheaten, but an un-neutered male! At least Diane was able to put him in an exquisite, modified show trim.


I can't quite remember in what fashion I bought things from the trade floor. Whether it be something I needed, something for the shelter, or just something that looked good, I was very bad with my credit card! While making the plastic melt, I saw my old classmate Novi in the competition arena with his toy Poodle, Ozzi. He ended up taking first place. Congrats again Poodle Guy!

The last class of the day was all about mixed breed makeovers. After viewing the slideshow of adorable mutts that Cheryl Purcell put together, I knew I had to get a DVD to keep them for reference. One of my favorites included a Maltese/Poodle mix groomed to look like a Westie; apparently, those little ears stand right up when you take the hair off! I also loved the Lhasa Apso turned Dandie Dinmont. Looks like I've got a new style to learn, because I fell in love with that little puffy head and tasseled ears!

With the night coming to a close, I decided to drop by the Aesculap booth to have my German Red Clipper blades sharpened. After talking to the reps about how I loved the Favorita II, especially for those pelted rescue dogs, they decided to give me the clipper that haunted my dreams: a Fav5! I'm still reeling from the fact that I now own the clipper with the power that I thought I was years away from owning! I cannot thank them enough, and neither will my little matted friends!

After showing off my new favorite toy (hehe!), it was already time for the Saturday night dinner. Best in Show awards allowed the competition winners to show off the best dogs the industry had to offer! Different this year was the exclusion of the Dancing with Dogs presentation. In its place was a lineup that was just as fun, if not more so. The night began with the retirement roast of Frank Rowe. Dirty jokes abounded about who slept with Frank and raucous laughter filled the dining hall. Frank even let fly with some jokes of his own, then offended everyone with his Elvis impersonation; he just stood in place with his arms crossed!

Next was something that I was involved in on Thursday night. Todd Shelley took the stage and waited for the emcee, Jay Scruggs, to appear on stage. When he didn't show up, Todd pulled out his cellphone and pretended to dial him. On screen, a video presented to look like live feed showed a very busy Jay selling DVDs in his booth. He took off, leaving a customer with one of them, and ended up in the room where the Internet Social was held. At that moment, all of us yelled in unison, "Oh my god, it's Jay Scruggs!!" He asked which way it was to the award show; we all pointed in a different direction, and off he went again!

Further editing of the video featured Jay stopping at the Bear's Den restaurant to play video games, running by a wide-eyed Ellen Ehrlich, cleaning up with hand sanitizer, and also included Pet Groomer's own Dirty Hairy pointing in every direction possible. Jay came running into the first Barkleigh Honors Awards - what a great show they put on, and that was only for the introduction!

Winners of awards included Daryl Conner for best blog, Frankie Brown for hospitality, Lisa Leady for congeniality (who also had us all crying - love ya, Lisa!!), Chuck for contribution to the industry, and Dawn Omboy for creative styling... and that's just to touch on the list! About midway they featured a spoof of Groomer Has It. The "up-and-coming" third season would feature the Barkleigh dog pooping in his trailer and a groomer using hedge clippers to style a model dog. While I was laughing, a small voice inside my head was silently cursing - this was an indication that there most definitely will not be a third season. Damn. At least the spoof was wonderfully entertaining!

The final award of the night - the Sally Liddick Lifetime Achievement Award - went to Sam Kohl for his many years of service and improvements to the industry over the many years. Ellen didn't win any awards, although she was nominated for a couple. Just remember Ellen, you are running with the big dogs now, and you should be proud!

A great night after a great day - how could I ask for anything else? Tomorrow is the last day, already! Why oh why does time have to fly when you're having this much fun? ;D

Friday, September 9, 2011

Busy Breeds on Friday!

Today marked the beginning of the trade show at Groom Expo 2011, and was also filled with five different breeds for me! Oster Theater, led by Chris Pawlosky, provided useful insight into trims for Bichon, Wheaten, Schnauzer, and Poodle - some of which can be used in the competition ring or on pets. I can't wait to try some of these tips out!

Oster's Fab 4!

Although I missed Frankie's spirited opening to the trade show, that didn't take away from the rising excitement flowing from booth to booth. People darting this way and that, carrying bags and boxes of goodies - ah yes, this is just the beginning!

After walking the entire floor, taking it all in, and planning my attack, I went to the Forever Stainless booth to play "Guess My Age" with Jorge. He originally guessed 21, then said I looked more like 15. Love ya, Jorge! :)

Tosha attended a creative seminar; the pictures she showed me of quick tips were wonderful. Dogs with leopard and zebra stripes that were applied in less than 5 minutes? Yes please!

After dinner, I spoke very briefly with none other than Judge Joey! I hope we'll be able to talk dogs this time around!

The last seminar of the night featured Irina Pinkusevich and her tips for the $32,500 groom on the American Cocker. I have a parti-colored client much like the one she worked on, and I would just die to try some of her carding techniques. If only I could get Mommy away from that terrible ten blade... I realize some of you shuddered when you read that. I'm the one who has to take her down! Oh, for a stripping knife! ;)

Gorgeous guy!

That's all for now, because tonight's the big party where I unveil my newest doggy costume... stay tuned!! Pictures coming too!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wet but Wonderful... Thursday at Groom Expo 2011!

Wow, what a start to the biggest grooming trade show on earth! Both myself and my roommate Tosha got caught along the highway due to torrential floods caused by remnants of hurricanes Irene and Lee. Yikes! This caused all kinds of delays for us, but some of the people in Pennsylvania have really been going through hell. My heart goes out to them :(

Tosha and I originally planned to go to Chocolate World, but all of Hershey's attractions were shut down. Huge bummer, especially considering that today is also my birthday. We grabbed a coffee and talked in the lobby instead, viewing sights including screaming toddlers and other groomers. Another groomer came a day earlier for her daughter's birthday, also today. Since they couldn't really do anything, that's two birthdays threatened to be wrecked!

We didn't let the canceled trip get us down though. Lunch at Bear's Den followed by a Chris Christensen seminar put us back in the Groom Expo spirit. I enjoyed the class, but I feel like I would've enjoyed it more if the Q&A was saved for the end. Y'all know how I feel about people just randomly yelling out stuff. Like my two-legged muse once said, "Shut up, listen, and learn!" Hehe! :3

Anyway, Thursday night also meant the Internet Social! Dawn couldn't make it this year, so I, Tosha, Ellen Ehrlich, and many others help bring it all together. And who should happen to come along and help out with the prizes but good ol' Jorge! He hasn't changed a bit, claiming that the sets of Breathe Healthy masks that were donated to the raffle would keep hair out of your lungs, but not your panties! Some things never change! :)

He's "Jorgelicious"!!

All of the money we raised in the raffle is going to Missy Arnold, a groomer battling breast cancer. Tickets sold out within half an hour! I was able to score two gallons of Tropiclean shampoo, and a shedding supplement for Xavier! At the end of the raffle, I got on the mic and gave Dawn a shout-out, then invited everyone to have some cake:

After all, my friends should all have cake on my birthday!

Overall, all things considered, it's been a good start to the show. Hopefully the rest of the flood waters are receding and everyone can make it here safely!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Products in Review: Himalayan Dog Chews!

You're probably thinking the same thing I did when I first saw these for sale: "What the HECK is a Himalayan Dog Chew?" I could tell you about how wonderful it is, that it's quite possibly the ultimate treat and boredom buster, but it's easier to take it from a true critic:

...oops, looks like he's a little preoccupied at the moment :)

Last Sunday was the annual Steel Valley Cluster dog show - one of the biggest in the nation! While checking out the vendors in between the wonderful Westies, Schnauzers, Cresteds, and more, I happened upon one booth selling a wide variety of chew toys. I've been looking for the perfect chew for my picky little connoisseur, Xavier. He's the kind of dog who will only play with a rubber toy if it has something delicious inside, gets stomach upset from the wrong ingredients, and doesn't see any point in chewing on a Nylabone. I, myself, have a few hangups about giving him processed bull pizzle, which by the way, comes from Old English. And we thought rappers were being original with "izzle" speak. Hehehe. Anyway, was there a magical treat out there for my dog?

Yes, indeed there is. Off to the side was a display of bags containing different sizes of Himalayan Dog Chews. Intrigued, I picked one up and began reading the label. Basically, it's a slab of cheese made from cows and yaks, smoked in old Himalayan style. Don't let the description fool you - these things are solid! I decided that since Xavier loves cheese, it was something we just had to try. Not sure of what size would suit him best, I picked a bag of mixed chews and proceeded to checkout. The slightly higher price for these tasty sticks paid off. Xavier grabbed the smallest of the bunch, made a beeline for "the den" (that is, under the table!), and began gnawing away. Four hours later, one worn out dog put a decent-sized dent in the stick and could chew no more. Once his jaw was no longer tired, you knew exactly where to find him: chewing it again!

The smallest of the bunch kept Xavier happy for about three days before it got too small. Imagine how happy he'll be when he digs into the large and extra-large ones! There hasn't been any digestive upset, but this would be a concern for lactose-intolerant dogs. Oh well, guess they'll just have to shizzle the pizzle all over the hizzle, fa-zizzle!

...OK, new use for the Himalayan Dog Chew: bop myself in the head with one next time I try "izzle" speak! Never again, haha! ;)

Stay tuned, only four more weeks until Groom Expo!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I usually like to do a complete overhaul on all of my tools every month and give 'em the works: spray, shine, polish, and pick out all of those pesky hairs we groomers must deal with. From slickers to shears, clippers to blades, everything in my grooming arsenal got some TLC, even things I hadn't used in a while. Nothing could prepare me for what I was going to find on the inside of my clippers though!

I remembered a tip I received at Groom Expo: take the bottom base off of the Oster clippers and blow out any hair that may have become trapped inside. Not only were they supposed to run better, but doing this would prevent a short circuit. Well, today I discovered a screwdriver long enough to reach down into those holes and gently removed the base...


I'm sure there's little bits of hair dating back to some of my first Shih Tzu shavedowns in there! Why haven't I burned these poor things out yet??

Taking the nozzle of my HV dryer, I hit the switch to low power and blasted it all away...

Ah, yes, much better!

God only knows how much longer my clippers would've gone with all that fuzz lodged deep within. And when I turned them back on, they sang like they did the day I eagerly took them out of the box for the first time.

I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to take extra special care of your tools! Learn the proper ways to clean them and increase their productivity and longevity! Nothing would suck any worse than that busy rush coupled with a pair of shorted-out clippers or nasty shears!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

...and Back Again! Intergroom 2011

I think the second and third days flew by the quickest. Saturday was the perfect warm-up to the crazy insanity that was about to ensue!

Before things got too wild, my first class was all about reiki. I was expecting a presentation on pet massage, but it turned out to be a brief introduction to energy work. I do believe that there is some merit to reiki, but I just can't seem to get past the "new age" aspect of it. I believe that we are all one in the same and can influence things with the right techniques and materials, but I prefer to use methods that are grounded more in science. Guess I'm just a dork like that, haha.

After dragging boxes of shampoos back to the room, it was time for Scott Wasserman's presentation on the Kerry Blue Terrier. I'm not sure which I was more impressed with: the gorgeous trim he put on the dog, or the fact that she was ten years old!

The last class went a little slow for me. It was a presentation on Sporting breeds by Jodi Murphy and Diane Betelak. They covered every single sporting breed, and presented the sporting jacket and sporting saddle patterns at the tail end. The Power Point presentation was a little heavy; I was hoping to see more of how to set the patterns. It was a nice review though.

I met up with Sharon at the show's close. We went to dinner with other groomers she met, all of them friends of Dawn Omboy. The waiter at the Outback was a charmer, plus we got a free appetizer from the night before. A good start to an increasingly wild night...

Then came Chuck's alcohol-fueled dance party at the Holiday Inn! Dawn was already there, and was already drinking. So I decided, what the hell, and went straight for the cash bar. Got Kahlua? Nope. Got any amber beer? Nope. Jack and coke? Third time's the charm! I ran outside, glass in hand, saying, "You guys are really in trouble now, I'll be flying soon!" Then I told the story about how the night before I graduated grooming school, I had three of those bad boys. More drunken groomer stories emerged, and the party temporarily moved out into the hallway!

When we went into the conference room with the DJ, dance floor, and party lights, the tail end of rap was coming to an end. A little Bob Seeger and Cottoneyed Joe ushered in a storm of dancing groomers. Plus, it didn't hurt that most of us had just downed our drinks and were feeling happy! The air was filled with Madonna, Rick James, MJ, KC and the Sunshine Band, and other
party anthems throughout the night. Mostly, I just remember busting moves like no one's business, then bumping into Judge Joey in the hallway and announcing, "Hey! Judge Joey! I'm dancin' my ass off!" Drunk groomers are the best ;)

Even after the music stopped, we continued the party as we walked back to our respective rooms, calling each other awesome. As I said, drunk groomers are the best! It's almost surprising that all of us were able to function just fine on Monday, the final day already!

The day began on an extremely pleasant note. Hayley Keyes, president of IPG, gave a presentation on belligerent dogs. After the "experience" at Groom Expo, I was hesitant to take any class that was geared towards handling. However, Hayley used pressure points to help stabilize a biting Cocker Spaniel. Her handling was gentle and professional, the dog slowly relaxed: a true moment of zen. It was a surprise that I welcomed wholeheartedly. In fact, I went over to the IPG booth to personally thank her.

I ran into my trade show buddy Poodle. When I told him I'd be back, he walked over to someone else. Ah, I see how it is! ;)
Another Poodle held my attention near the Davis booth. Irena Pinkusevitch put on a demo about Poodle tricks. When she suggested using chunkers on the legs instead of shears, I knew that I was meant to have those shiny new Osters! ;)

Afterward, I ran into Judge Joey and asked him if he had any downtime. We were to meet up after my last class on the Bichon Frise, hosted by Vero DaSylva. She began the class by giving us a pep talk about entering the competition ring and how difficult it can get, because once you hit level three "everyone theenks you are beetch... and zey are right!"

Ooh la la... Bichon!

While the class was very helpful, it ended up running long. By the time it let out and I ran into Joey again, it was time to start breaking things down. He gave me a hug and apologized for not being able to talk. He definitely said it best: "Things are crazy!" Seems like every show I go to gets crazier and wilder. Guess that means I'm growing! Now I'll have to chase after him at Hershey ;)

After saying my goodbyes and making one more round through the booths, I couldn't help but feel a little sad. I'm never ready for when a trade show comes to an end. With one last look at the expo floor, which would soon be completely clear once again, I felt an intense burst of satisfaction; Intergroom 2011 was perhaps one of the most fun shows I've been to so far, and things are only looking up. Who knows what adventures are waiting for me?

As I was loading up the Puppy Waggin' with all of my new treasures, the radio was playing Frank Sinatra's New York New York. It was fitting, even though I didn't visit the city itself. I'm making a brand new start for myself in the world of grooming, and I'm going to make it! This show confirmed it. I'm not where I thought I'd be, but I'm right where I ought to be!

...and I couldn't help but feel a little teased when my GPS tried to take me through Hershey. Not until September!! ;D

There... Intergroom 2011!

Some things were never meant to last, especially the good ones. It seems like these things are here and gone by the time we turn around. Nonetheless, the memories that we make and the lessons we learn from them are lifelong. This year, Intergroom was no exception; bigger and better than last year, it was a weekend to remember!

Friday, after dropping Xavier off at the kennel, cruising the turnpike, and having some words with my GPS, I found myself gazing out the window of the seventh story of the Hampton Inn - the Meadowlands Expo Center was just in sight! Going through my lists, looking over my class schedule, wondering what kind of fun and wacky experiences I was about to embark on... there was no way I was sleeping easy!

The Meadowlands at night!

The sun rose early on Saturday morning and woke me up before my alarm clock. Even though I was still tired from the drive, my mind began to race. Day one was now in swing! Here we go!

After a short walk, I picked up my badge from the front desk and walked into my first classroom: Pet Profits with none other than Chuck Simons. Together with his friend Mark of, he gave an informative speech about the ways to get your name out there, make yourself known, and have a strategy to retire with comfort. Right before he got started, he asked me how I was doing - all eyes were on me. I couldn't help but think, "Wow, I got public recognition from Chuck!" Hehe!

While in the class, I ran into my friend Sharon from Groom Expo last year. We headed over to the expo center's double doors, now thrown wide open. Frankie Brown sat in his rightful place, near the table of Wahl bags. We each grabbed one, walked in, and let the sensory overload begin! Products, tools, tables, and an array of miscellany as far as the eye could see with the competition ring in the center of it all - now THIS was a slice of heaven, baby!

It didn't take too long before I ran into another familiar face: Dawn Omboy was selling a bathing system! Ellen Ehrlich was a few booths away, and good ol' Jorge was with Forever Stainless. The show had barely begun and already I was catching up with so many friends. I continued to walk around and let myself be overwhelmed with nothing but goodies and pure bliss from every direction, all the while devising how I was going to be bad with my credit card!

My second class was extremely useful: "Other" Sporting Breeds with Anette Quick. Using a Bravura clipper, she put a stunning sporting jacket trim on a rather antsy English Springer Spaniel. In addition to becoming more confident with my pattern lines, I picked up some useful tips to help utilize my thinners to the fullest. Awesome!

Georgia the Springer and Anette

Back on the trade show floor, I discovered a booth that was selling Kenchii shears, including the new Flame series chunkers that I was eyeballing. Upon trying them, however, I decided that they didn't fit my hand just right. No worries - I'd just go to the Oster booth and get some of their chunkers. I was going to weigh the two out at Groom Expo this year anyway, now I'd just have them sooner!

The third class of the day - Geometrics in Canine Design - was full of useful tips, some of which weren't even relevant to the subject. Gotta love when those little gems pop up! Featuring the "Best of the Masters" Pam Lauritzen, Vero DaSylva, and Scott Wasserman, we all learned and laughed as they took little snipes at each other. It's great when you have a teacher with a sense of humor, but three at once was downright hilarious!

At last, the zero hour arrived: five o' clock began a slew of deals from vendors, and free alcohol on the trade show floor! I'm not kidding. At the Show Seasons booth, I ended up with a few extra colognes after being poured two blueberry cocktails. As for how they tasted, in my own words that made all the reps laugh: "This. Is. INCREDIBLE!"

I made a new trade show buddy at the Espree booth; a beautiful standard Poodle. He came right up to me, gave me a huge nuzzle, then tried to follow me! I assured him that I would be back to love on him some more.

At the Jarden/Oster booth, a gorgeous pair of chunkers sat on display, begging to be bought. I knew that I had to have them. Now here's where the twist comes in: it was buy one pair, get another free. I really didn't need another pair of standard shears... until I saw the 10" straights. And on top of that, I got the last pair! I wished I had a Poodle right then and there just to try them out on!

Swinging by the Tropiclean booth, I got some more colognes there too. Looks like I'm stocked up on smelly stuff for years to come, haha! I also ran into Judge Joey, and his wife! I asked him if we could get together sometime and talk dogs for a bit. So many questions needed answers! He said he had some downtime on Monday; I was excited to finally get some much needed information. As we parted ways for the evening, I asked him, holding up all my bags, "Hey, do you think I bought enough shit yet?" Haha!

After a few trips to several other booths, and many swipes of my credit card later (haha), it was already the end of day one. And of course walking back, I got caught in a sudden deluge of rain and wild winds. It's all because someone said, "Hey, the rain let up!" as soon as everyone walked outside. Go figure ;)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bringing up to Speed...

I was just thinking the other day that I haven't written anything here in a good, long while. And I was right. It's almost as though I have a nasty case of writer's block, in which everything just kind of comes up at once and clogs my thought processes completely. Kind of hurts my head, really :P

Life continues to be fast-paced and sometimes intense. Xavier's lost some weight, and I've gained even more grooming know-how. Intergroom is but twelve days away - expect a full report!

Maybe afterward I'll figure out how I want to organize all the random crap that is cluttering my head and come up with a few good posts ;D

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Second Look at the Puppy Bowl

It's that time of year again. Game fans are gearing up with a bounty of snacks and cold ones, eagerly awaiting the day where they all gather around the TV. I'm talking, of course, about Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl! What else could there be? ;)

I have to say that I am a big fan. People are shocked when I tell them that I get a real kick out of watching puppies play for almost two hours. What the heck is so fascinating about puppies playing, anyway?

There's plenty, especially if you're interested in canine body language. In addition to some instances of utter cuteness, as well as the occasional sight gag from Animal Planet (who could forget the streaking Chinese Crested?), Puppy Bowl is a gold mine for students of the dog. Of course, the best way to learn from this event is to have a text nearby or at least read, such as Roger Abrante's Dog Language or Brenda Aloff's Canine Body Language; both are excellent reference materials that I would recommend to anyone in a heartbeat. Once you know what to look for, you begin to see this puppy playtime as a giant social experiment and experience for them: what happens when I do this? What happens when I do that? That puppy is doing that, I'm going to try that too! Oops, shouldn't have done that. Oh well, what's that? The subtle cues dogs give each other--every lift of the eyebrow, tail tilt, or body shift--suddenly jump out at you, and you are now learning along with the puppies. Talk about a trip! How can you not get excited for Puppy Bowl now?

Yes, it's a great learning experience for we the students. The puppies are the ultimate beneficiaries, though. Every year when I watch the Puppy Bowl, I can't help but think that a whole handful of pups is going into the world with better social skills that most dogs severely lack, and will most likely never see. I think of all the "cute" dogs who were bought as a fashion accessory or a cuddly toy and will grow up terrified because they missed out on the critical socialization period in puppyhood. No, Puppy Bowl won't guarantee a perfect pup, but it will certainly get them started in the right direction.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm rooting for the Nordic puppies this year!