Does Grooming Make the Dog?


A Puli has dreadlocks.  A poodle has curls.  Joey, on the other hand, is your basic low maintenance dog.

Frankly, he prefers it that way.  Places that involve kennels, immersion in water, perfumey smells or invasive procedures to remove body parts or fur are all worthy of an application for protection by Amnesty International.

His friends, Wagsy and Poochy, get bathed weekly at home.  His late friend Jean Pierre got shorn seasonally.  His bud Denny gets a regular Mohawk.  But Joey’s short to medium fur isn’t adaptable to much styling.

Does such a dog even need grooming?

We set out to find the answer.

Make Over Day

We selected Sam’s Green Paw. At a former location, we’d had a positive experience with doggy day care.  At their new Studio City location, they have a certified green facility.

The photo on the left is Joey moments before he disappears behind the green door for his make over. The photo on the right is $40 of grooming later.

What you can’t see is how much softer his coat was afterward.  And he had a light trim that neatened up his lines. He’d had a pedicure at the vet’s recently so we passed on that. His complimentary green kerchief was a debonair addition to his usual attire.

Was It Worth It?

Some aspects of grooming — claw clipping, for example — I’d rather leave to the trained professionals. I’ve done it myself, but it’s a two-person job and nerve wracking for both me and Joey.  I’d rather let someone else be the bad guy.

Tasks like bathing I can handle myself.

At least for Joey, I think home care is just about the same — and more economical — than professional grooming.

I did come home with a greater appreciation for regular grooming sessions.  Here’s why:

  • It makes the most of Joey’s handsomeness.
  • It’s a pleasure to brush him.  He’s soft and golden. He relaxes and nearly nods off. It’s wonderful together time.
  • Brushing makes his coat soft and shiny.  The brushing stimulates the circulation under the skin.
  • It helps control shedding.  Brushing collects the loose (or about to get loose) fur before it falls on my furniture, carpet, car and clothes.
  • I can monitor his health.  I’ve noticed that he’s developed a small lump on the side of his neck.  The vet says it’s probably a fatty tumor.  I check it every time I brush Joey to be sure it’s not growing or multiplying.

Nail trimming is one aspect of grooming where I’d rather have the professionals do it. I’ve done it myself, but it’s a two person job and scares both Joey and me. I consider it a necessity because it can cause the paws to sit on the ground poorly and makes walking difficult or uncomfortable. Some dogs, like Joey’s friend Red, can keep claws short just from daily walking.  But Joey, who does just about as much walking as Red, always ends up with long claws that need attention.

I liked Sam’s Green Paw. The staff was understanding and managed Joey well despite his panic. They claim to be the nation’s first gold green certified pet care facility due to the way they constructed the facility and use resources on an ongoing basis.

According to Joey, we’d be greener still if we saved baths for rare special occasions. For myself, I’m resolving to pick up the brush more regularly.