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Wiping the slate clean...

I've spoken previously about Pixie and the Pink Pig... or rather Pixie the pink pig... which was the time I had to wipe the slate clean with my own dog... (see previous blog post) and when I talk about wiping the slate clean... I am talking about when a dog's coat has to be removed due to extensive matting, which can not be brushed out.

Matting occurs when the hair tangles and wraps around itself creating tightly wound clumps or both dead loose and alive hair. If, these if not brushed out effectively can continue to trap more hair, getting tighter and closer to the skin eventually covering the dog.

Matted hair on a dogs leg

You can see in the photo, the matted hair on a leg, the matted hair becomes a solid piece and literally peels off the body.

Even though we use very effective methods to remove a matted coat, the process takes longer, because the matts can be so close to the skin that I can be hard sometimes to tell what is hair and what is skin, and so we have to go very very slowly and carefully.

This picture and the one below it are the same piece of matted hair and came off this dog in one piece and it almost covered my table...

The 'Top Side' the side we 'see' doesn't look that bad, and appears to not be matted... and looks like it could be brushed out quite easily.

It contrast, this is the 'under side' view, the side that is closest to the skin, and you can see how tightly the hair is matted together, and it starts to resemble a wool fleece, and is not possible to be be brushed out.

Making the decision to remove a dogs coat, is never an easy one, and as groomers, we don't do it, out of callousness, laziness or as a cruel way to 'pay back' an owner... for not brushing their dog... we make the decision to remove a dogs coat out of necessity and kindness, we uphold the 5 needs of the animal welfare act, one of these is to ensure the dog is free from discomfort and pain. A matted coat, will pull on the skin every time the dog moves, like someone pulling on our hair, each time we move our heads.

As this picture shows, removing the coat comes at the risk of exposing the skin to the elements and so the decision to undertake this arduous task does not come easily, as groomers we know that the coat helps to keep the dog warm, and protects the skin from the sun, the rain and other things that could irritate it like allergens. But, leaving the matted coat will cause bigger problems, like trapped bacteria which can cause skin infections etc.

From my perspective as a human being... the task of removing the dogs coat, is an emotional one, and in honesty, each time I do, it makes me cry, because I feel for the dog being in an element of discomfort from the matting, but I also feel like I have let the owners down, when I am unable to keep 'Fluffy' fluffy... even though I am and will always work to ensure the dogs welfare, there is an element of guilt that the dog will not look 'cute'. And yes that is vanity speaking... but lets face it and as an owner of 2 fluffy dogs - I completely get it! We all want them looking adorable...

The stark truth is though, our dog's are not just what their coats look like... they are so much more, they are love, companionship, fun and so many other things (some unmentionable!) And just because the coat may need to be removed does not mean that they stop being our dogs, so still greet them with enthusiasm, and love and excitement because they will be greeting you with all these things...

These are my fluffy and not so fluffy girls... both have had to have the 'slate wiped clean' so we could start again... and I love them both the same regardless to how long their hair is...

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