Friday, 28 September 2018

Cocker Spaniel Masterclass

Mike Wildman started grooming at 12yrs old
Last Sunday I attended a Cocker Spaniel Masterclass with Mike Wildman ICMG in London. A rare opportunity not to be missed, since Mike is actually based in Chester and only makes occasional visits South.

Both my husband and my brother have to attend CPD (continued professional development) for their various professions and claim their sessions are invariably a waste of time &/or money amounting to box ticking exercises. So I feel really blessed to be in a profession where Master Groomers like Mike are so generous in sharing their knowledge & experience on a huge variety of topics. I generally find grooming seminars to be fun and interesting and this one did not disappoint!!

During the morning Mike took us through the traditional method of grooming a Cocker Spaniel, hand-stripping. A hand-stripped coat is breed standard for show dogs (no clipping allowed) although sadly most pet owners find this method too high maintenance &/or too expensive so will opt to clip. Also many pet spaniels do not have suitable coats for stripping due to neutering, which alters the coat texture as a result of hormonal changes.
For a silky coat in top class condition Mike recommended monthly grooming appointments. He warns against being tempted by any short cuts or quick fixes as once these are used on a spaniel coat sadly there is seldom any going back. For both owners and groomers, PATIENCE is a necessary virtue!!

Clipped Spaniels can be glamorous & practical!
Happily, although clipped spaniels have a different texture to their coat, it is still possible to make them look glamorous, retaining their spaniel character and the afternoon was spent showing us how best to achieve this.

Mike also shows, judges and breeds Cocker Spaniels so was able to give us some expert tips on how to scissor on both hand-stripped and clipped dogs to show the dog's physique off to best advantage. A judicious snip in the right places can really enhance the deep chested and square build of my favourite breed. And now that tails are no longer docked Mike showed us how to trim them for a neat, practical finish in keeping with the breed style and character.

Just bought a Cocker Spaniel puppy? Want a practical groom which doesn't make your dog look like a Labrador pup? Call Babs on 07555207128 for more information.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Southend Scalliwags Customers - Wonky But Wagging!

As an In Home Groomer, inevitably much of my client base consists of nervous, anxious dogs &/or senior dogs who tend to find the hectic or unfamiliar atmosphere of a salon or grooming van overwhelming (no offense intended to my fellow groomies ). Or I am grooming puppies who have not yet learned how to stand patiently on the grooming table.
Toothless dogs tend to look lopsided
Unfortunately this sometimes means I have to lower my expectations of the finished groom because, well, it is blooming difficult to get a neat finish on a foot when the dog is tap dancing like Michael Flatley and I have noticed that dogs with no teeth tend to always look lopsided!
However I have a mission statement to fulfil, which is that every dog should leave the table clean & comfortable & easier for the owner to maintain for the next 8 or so weeks.
With Southend Scalliwags every groom is approached with the same energy and enthusiasm as though the dog is appearing at Crufts next day, regardless of the outcome.
Why? Because I understand that there is no such thing as 'just a dog'. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to every owner, their Scalliwag is a unique and beautiful soul.
And over time with regular appointments we find the dogs relax more and we are able to achieve better results.
Have your dog groomed in the comfort and familiarity of your own home. Call Babs at Southend Scalliwags on 07555207128 or checkout

Monday, 3 September 2018

What Is Hand-Stripping?

Sunday is usually a day when most of us look forward to putting our feet up and doing something relaxing. For groomers it is a day when we can get together to connect, share, compare and pass on technical skills (Continued Professional Development in corporate speak!) So I jumped at the opportunity to attend a seminar on hand-stripping and hand-strip breeds, hosted by one of UK's premier groomers, Sue Pratt.
What is hand-stripping?
Before electric clippers became the one size fits all method of grooming, many dog breeds were Hand-stripped, where the coat is literally pulled out by hand. This sounds painful but done properly only the old, dead hair is being removed and should not be any more uncomfortable than tweezering our eyebrows. The two main coat types it is used for are wire haired and silky coats.
Wire Haired Fox Terrier

Any C&G trained groomer will have covered hand-stripping in their training. Unfortunately for many of us opportunities to use this knowledge are few and far between. It is time consuming and therefore prohibitively expensive for many customers. Also hormonal changes as a result of neutering render many coats unsuitable for stripping, meaning it is inappropriate for many of our pet customers.

So Sunday was a fantastic opportunity for us to extend our knowledge. Sue advised on: the best grooming programme for a hand-stripped pet dog; recovering a coat; how stripping can be blended with clipping & scissoring on pet dogs to attain the best of all worlds; the nuances of stripping a wire haired v a silky coat & what is involved in developing and maintaining a full show coat on a silky breed.

American Cocker Spaniel- Before
Two valuable pieces of advice I learned were:
  • It is sometimes possible to continue hand-stripping a dog after neutering provided the dog was stripped regularly before and provided the dog is not neutered too young.
  • To keep a hand-stripped wire haired dog looking sharp with their coat in top condition they should be stripped out at regular 6 weekly intervals NOT left until the coat is blowing before seeing a groomer again.
Which Breeds are Traditionally Hand Stripped?
Wire coated breeds include many of the terrier family: Fox, Irish, Borders, Jack Russels, Cairns & Westies are among the most popular. The coat should feel harsh and wiry to the touch and this texture is practical for these outdoor working breeds because it is to an extent water & weather proof. A hand stripped coat will maintain a vibrant colour and pattern and is normally less prone to matts and tangles.

Silky coated breeds which are hand-stripped mainly belong to the gun dog family, including spaniels & setters. Their coats were also initially designed for work & weather proofing in the field, however these days have become exaggerated to a degree that has rendered them somewhat impractical. However hand-stripping is still the best way to stunning results if you can spare the time and the money.

If you want to discuss having your dog groomed to breed standards call Babs at Southend Scalliwags on 07555207128

A.C.S.-Bathed, Brushed Out, Stripped & Scissored to Perfection by Sue Pratt