Groomed For Failure

, , , , , , , | | Working | June 12, 2019

My dog was a lab-retriever rescue who was six or seven when we got him and slightly… special. I loved him, don’t get me wrong, but for a dog and in particular, a lab, he had some interesting personality features along with the fact that he had medical issues like arthritis. The biggest one: he basically hated water. He’d drink it just fine, but giving him a bath was painful because he didn’t like water hitting his chest and he hated being dried. If we tried to blow dry him, he’d bark and snarl, and towel drying took too long because he’d think it was a game and constantly try to run away.

We finally found a groomer at a pet store who could handle him. When we took him in the first time, we explained everything to her — all his issues and troubles we had. She told us that she could handle it; it would just cost us a little more and take a bit longer. Considering that giving him a bath at home usually took at least three people and a few hours, we figured it was fine. So, she bathed him and did a great job keeping him calm and getting him taken care of. Basically, she bathed him in whatever way she did and groomed him and then let him crate dry with a couple of fans blowing gently if needed. And he was fine. So, whenever he needed grooming, we always made sure to talk to her and schedule on a day when she was going to be in.

Fast forward a few years down the road. I’m now in college but living at home and I take a lot of responsibility for him when I can. He’s obviously a lot older, like 14 or 15; we were never entirely sure how old he was because his previous owners couldn’t give us a straight answer. The age was the best guess based on what the vet said. He still has the special neurosis, but he still can get bathed just fine by this one tech. I have scheduled an appointment with her and things are good.

The day of his appointment comes and I get him to the groomers only to see that the tech isn’t there. I ask about her and she has apparently had a family emergency. No big deal. I just explain to the groomer who’s there all about my dog and let her know how things normally go, because she is looking at him a little warily. Again, at this time he’s well into his teens; it’s a lot more obvious that he’s got arthritis and just that he’s an old dog in general. She tells me that it’s fine, and I hand him off and go about running various errands.

About thirty minutes later, I get a call from the pet store. When I pick up, it’s the tech and she tells me that I need to come and get our dog because he’s freaking out and she thinks he’s about to have a stroke. I finish up the errand I was in the middle of and get back to the store as fast as I can. When I get there, she brings him out and he’s soaking wet. When I ask her what happened, she says that she got him into the bath and when she turned on the water, he freaked. I explain that I mentioned this when I dropped him off, and try to see if she handled things the way the other tech usually does, but she refuses to walk through anything, maintaining that I need to take him because they can’t be responsible. She tells me that because of things, she isn’t going to charge me, but she refuses to let him dry and tells me that we aren’t allowed to bring him back.

So, I have to get my sopping wet, freaked-out dog into the car. While he likes car rides, because of his arthritis and everything else, sometimes getting in and out is difficult, and this is one of those times. But I manage to get him in and mostly calmed down enough so I can get in the driver’s seat and go. I get him home and dry him off, dry out the backseat of the car, and give him some treats and love before getting him back into the car so I can go get his nails trimmed at the vet. I get him taken care of at the vet and then get home, where I give him some more attention and treats.

When my mom gets home, I tell her what happened and she calls the pet store. She talks to the same tech I had, who gives her the same story about him freaking out and now being basically banned. She calls back a few days later and gets the tech we’d been trying to schedule with. The tech apologizes and then explains that because the tech who’d banned him is her manager, she can’t change the ruling and is going to be sad to see our dog go. My mom is frustrated although she doesn’t blame our tech. She speaks to the manager again, wondering why it was okay to a) not listen to the special care instructions I’d mentioned, and b) force me to take an obviously worried animal home — not that he would have hurt me on purpose but… — especially when he was soaking wet. The manager just maintains that she’s done what she could in trying to care for him and in not charging me for the work she started.

We’ve never gone any further with that store, although we probably should have. But we have found a groomer/doggie daycare that will take him. They love having him around because he was super friendly and one of the oldest dogs they regularly take care of. He loves going there because they always give him a new squeaky toy to bring home. We aren’t always thankful for that portion of the grooming.