My dear wife Jody got a good chuckle recently when I asked about her “beauty parlor” appointment. Seems as though I’m so behind the times that I didn’t know that expression went out of style probably in the days when Jimmy Carter was president.
So yesterday when m’lady scooted down the driveway with our hirsute Sheltie, Mr. Sheldon, in the front seat, I was sympathetic and in solidarity with him that he was being dragged to a “dog groomer,” the equivalent I’m sure to a trip to the vet to be neutered. And being an especially scrappy little lad with a country boy delight in rolling about in natural stuff like deer poop, he certainly would have had his tail between his legs had he even thought he was being ferried to a sort of canine beauty parlor, or worse yet, some place called a salon, a design studio, a hair stylist or a clip joint, of all places. Something about getting our hair cut that makes many of us males uncomfortable.
Seems as though all the groomers at the local Pet Smart are young ladies. They now have a dossier on Sheldon, who’s gotten a good report card in the past for being patient, sweet, and compliant when it comes to standing still and not fidgeting. He’s not especially fond of the hair blower, though, but keeps a civil tongue and doesn’t snap at it.
The ladies are quick to say they prefer dog grooming to styling the hair of their fellow females. Once they have proof of rabies vaccination, there’s nothing in the way of establishing a brief but intense relationship with their temporary wards. They’re especially happy dealing with dogs since they don’t have to listen to any personal woes, are not made privy to intimate secrets, never hear about jealousies, and are not forced to lie when asked if their new hair style will make their butts look smaller.
Sheldon’s hair grows a bit like my beard… he becomes rounder and rounder with each day of growth. With too much hair, he appears to be as fat as a full tick. Of course, his coat doesn’t grow grey as my beard does at an alarming rate. Neither of us use a color, though, so that’s another bond of solidarity between us. It’s debatable whether he’s better looked after at the groomer than I am when Jody lassos me and fires up the hedge trimmer. In my case, I’m reduced to a ninety eight-pound weakling in no time after my locks are lopped off in a wholesale way. Shortchanged a bit, I don’t even get a nail trim, tooth check, or have the inside of my ears cleaned.
After a good trim, though, we both appear to have lost about twenty-five pounds. But Sheldon usually has the “vantage” of smelling like oatmeal cookies afterward thanks to a “special” shampoo mix. When Jody picked him up, he was of course raring to go and almost forgot to give the girls a kiss goodbye for all their efforts. They are a competent crew who listen closely and want to please as they get their instructions. They all got a good laugh out of a story Jody told them about a lady on Judge Judy who was suing a groomer for the mental anguish her dog had suffered due to a bad haircut. It was a great program just for the look on the judge’s face and her absolute delight in not only tossing out the frivolous case but ordering the plaintiff to pay the groomer money for having to put up with this nonsense.
The staff is young and down to earth. No airs and no superior attitudes…the mutt mix is just as important to them as the thoroughbred poodle. No one pretends to be anything they’re not. When they talk to the pups or tell you what good kids they’ve been, they really mean it and are not just angling for a big tip. Our shop even has a sign displayed prominently that proclaims,
“If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around…”
Since Sheldon is a canine male from his perky little alert ears down to his newly clipped nails, he usually can’t walk more than ten feet without peeing at least a dozen times. Of course, when on a normal walkie, that’s fine, especially out here in the country where there’s so many neat places that have new smells on them since last we were there. Getting from the back of the shop where the groomers work to the front of the store where the cashiers collect our money is a trot fraught with peril. So many aisles to look down, so much stuff…pull toys, rawhide bones, beds, bags of food, crates–to see and inhale. And if there is something to the palindromic truism that God is just dog spelled backward, maybe momma will miraculously let her guard down and leave a inch of slack in the lead, a glorious chance to pee on something!
When the two of them finally get home and Sheldon has had a chance to hop out of the car, roughhouse with the other two hoodlums in our pack, and take a roll in some wet leaves, his sidekicks give him a thorough sniff over. The looks on their faces are priceless after inhaling that oatmeal aroma. You can almost imagine them ordering him back out to the leaf pile for another thorough roll about to get that skunk smell off him.
Jody just rolls her eyes as though to say she had hoped to enjoy his new pampered elegance a bit longer rather than see him ditch his “beauty parlor” hair-roller locks in record time. All she can do is sigh, though, since she knows there simply is no force strong enough to rein in his drive to get back to his dogginess. The bloom on the rose had faded at an astonishing speed.
Then I noticed Jody scanning my mop, making mental notes and applying a visual grid work to my scalp as she plotted my next haircut. That far-away planning stare then broke with the announcement that she had brought home a surprise just for me… none other than my own personal bottle of oatmeal shampoo!
That leaf pile was looking more and more inviting.