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