“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius
The more I learn about dogs, the more I am convinced that I’ll never master the Art of Grooming. It is my art form. I practice it daily, and wholeheartedly. I am an artist. I met another artist working at K9-Lifeline in Draper, Utah (http://www.k9lifeline.net). Her name is Danielle Wiley.
After grooming Danielle’s dogs for her I received an amazingly generous tip from her once, and the second time around I refused to accept it! She looked at me and said something that really made an impact on me. She said, “It’s worth it to me,” and she meant it. My heart swelled. I felt so appreciated and valued at that moment, and I’ll never forget it. I knew at that moment I was in the presence of another Jedi Master. You should see her with a half-dozen dogs on leashes walking smoothly around the center. The Force is Strong with this one.
I’m currently grooming next to the break area for the employees so I get to bug them whenever they go in there to sit and relax. 🙂 Sometimes I can tell people just want to sit there and eat in silence, but I can’t help myself. I chat it up like it’s Saturday Night, baby! I really like them all though, and they know it, which is why I haven’t been stabbed by a fork yet. On one of these occasions, Danielle and I were talking about bread. I have no idea how we got on the subject, but I rarely ever know how a lot of my conversations get started. Maybe because I really love bread. White bread, toasted with butter.
It turns out that she is a passionate baker, and a member of the ABA as well (http://www.americanbakers.org).
“Baking is an art,” she told me. “There’s a science to it.” She explained that the ingredients can’t just get mixed in all at once. There is a process that needs to be followed or the bread won’t turn out right. The yeast can’t come in contact with the preservatives or the preservatives will kill the yeast. That’s just like why we can’t use shampoo and conditioner on a dog at the same time. One strips and the other seals; they would cancel each other out. Michelle Knowles has an amazing course that explains all that much better than I can, and I highly recommend it: http://isbusa.com/certification-programs/certified-pet-aesthetician-program/. I gained so much from this conversation with Danielle about the Art of Baking. It really is an art form and every loaf is an expression of the baker’s heart.
“It’s so amazing that the people way back in history just knew how to do this stuff, and bake bread without knowing all the science behind it!” I said excitedly. She thought for a second and replied, “I don’t think they knew how to bake bread like the kind we can today. I’m not completely sure, but I think that the bread was mostly flatbread. Like Pita bread, and other more dense bread than what we’re used to eating.” Wow! This totally relates to grooming as well. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, when pet grooming businesses started becoming popular, we didn’t have the tools and the technology we have today. The grooms were coming out alright, but they’re not the kind of grooms that we are able to produce today – out of the pet grooming shops. I don’t mean the competition dogs. We all know they’ve always gotten top-notch treatment. But the dogs coming out of the pet salons, not so much. Even though they may be using the same “ingredients,” they may not be using the same process. Just like my mother’s bread, the results are just not that enjoyable. Sorry, mom. 🙂 But at least we now know why!
I asked her, “If the baking time and temperature was set properly, putting the bread in the oven and letting it bake is the easy part, right?” The answer was, of course, “Yes. Everything is in the prep.” I only asked to reiterate a point that I always like to make. When grooming a dog, if the prep and bath was done properly, the haircut and styling session is the easy part. When we do a proper job grooming the dog, all the body parts flow and connect, making the dog look like a beautifully balanced work of art. The lasting results will be felt by the dog and the owners to enjoy. By the work of our own hands, we can create memories of joy and happiness for the families we serve that will last a lifetime. This is what makes us artists. We are creators. Just like when a baker bakes a delicious loaf of bread for a hungry family.