Here is Jacques in the utility room, on his grooming table, with his dog shower in the background. He’s pretty scruffy right now, isn’t he? It’s my fault.
Jacques turned four in December. That makes it close enough to four years that I have been less than thrilled with his grooming. The good guys are booked. The others, eew. The last time I took him to the groomer, only to have him turn tail and fight to get away, was once too many. I decided to find another solution but of course being me, I put off any action for quite a while.
My other dog, Piper to me, AKC Champion Legacy Pipes A’ Callin’ to you, was a Wheaten terrier, a sort of strawberry blond color dog who stood about knee-high. She got me through fourteen pretty difficult years, falling ill with cancer for the third and final time just about the time I met Robert. She was put to sleep on 9/11, yes, that 9/11. Years later, when Robert died and things looked bad again, I knew it was time for another dog. But no more showing. I can take only so much.
Most show dogs look pretty good, pretty close to the standard. Besides, often the judges don’t really know the breed standards all that well. This means your ribbon often depends on extraneous factors, which I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say that grooming, which should matter hardly at all, matters a great deal. Fortunately Piper’s breeder was willing to groom her for free, so I sat and chatted with him and watched. This went on for years. I learned that grooming requires patience, but it’s not rocket science. So when Jacques obviously, seriously wanted just to get away from those sweet young women who were so happy to see him, I knew it was time to step up, do the dirty work myself. And I knew I could handle it.
I think maybe he has spent too much time on the table, so I’m starting with short sessions: 10, 15 minutes. That’s part of why he still looks so bad. I found a dog brush with rubber tips, so he’s not being scratched by the metal ones. It’s working. He leans into the brush, loves it, and is now okay with my going after the mats. Obviously I could do a little more with the mats. No bath just yet. It’s about 10 degrees out, which is balmy for France right now, but still, it can wait. We are pneumonia-free and I’d like to stay that way.
Westies have a double coat. The groomers use an electric clipper to remove the outer layer, in the process removing its insulating and dirt-shedding properties. I’m going to let that grow back in. It takes a few months.
Meantime, I’m watching Westie grooming videos on YouTube. I found out I’m supposed to have been brushing him every single day. Oops. I’m sure Jacques will forgive me. When all is done, he’ll be a shaggy little dog, with all that extra hair, but I think he’ll be cleaner and a lot happier. Will he have a show groom? I don’t know and I am grateful beyond measure that I don’t have to care.