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!