It’s not just about fashion. It’s about health. Some people would scoff at the notion of having a mountain dog professionally groomed, brushed, bathed, clipped and blow-dried. Jim Johnson and Curtis Lender would disagree. On Monday afternoon, April 2,the owners of Clark, a six-month-old cocker spaniel, brought their puppy in to Kelli LaFollette of Peak to Peak Grooming for his first grooming session.
The two men are from Texas and have owned Chihuahuas in the past, but four-and-a-half months ago they added double-coated, long-haired Clark to the family mix for a change of pace. A local veterinarian suggested that the pup get groomed and recommended Kelli.
“He needed to be groomed because the hair on his feet was getting all tangled up. He likes to be brushed, but we didn’t know how to do the grooming things. Clark is mostly an indoor dog.”
Kelli opened her grooming business behind Peak to Peak Veterinary Clinic on Jan. 20. A former vet tech, she decided she wanted to be on the happy end of things and took a 300-hour grooming course in Loveland.
“I like working with dogs, and I like keeping them happy. It is a better match for me,” Kelli said. She has lived in the Nederland area since 1992 and owns a Bernese Mountain Dog, a Plotzhound and a Springer Spaniel.
Clark stood still for the initial brushing while his owner Jim held him. Clark is young and shy and Jim seemed to need the cuddling as dog and groomer became acquainted with each other. Kelli trimmed his nails and checked his ears looking for hair in the ear canal.
It was time for the bath. Actually it was a shower. Clark was placed in the large tub, which has a door for big dogs and while Jim held him, Kelli soaked the dog with warm water and then scrubbed him with Nature’s Specialties Organic Shampoo, which she likes the best.
She gently massaged the soap into his coat saying that dogs of Clark’s breed will need to be groomed for the rest of their life because their hair will keep growing, like a poodle’s.
“When dog hair becomes matted, debris collects under the mat and can cause itching and infection. The mats become tighter and tighter and the skin underneath can’t breath.”
Tearless shampoo is used for Clark’s face and the long hair on his ears curls. Kelli dries him with a towel which he doesn’t mind, but then he gets the blow-dry treatment, which wasn’t so much fun for him, but his coat fluffed up into a soft mass of good smells.
During Clark’s grooming, three women carrying three small dogs lined up at the door to the office. Locals Shelby, Sophie and Elizabeth brought in their Bischon Frizes, Talia and Arjunna, and Chihuahua, Paco. They said they came to check out the new grooming facility, glad there was one locally. “We have to have the dogs groomed every six weeks, or the hair grows long and fuzzy,” said Shelby. The dogs peered curiously into the room, while Clark finished his session with a trimming of his toe hair to keep snowballs from forming.
When Clark’s grooming was pronounced complete, Kelli tied a bandana around his neck. Jim and Curtis gathered up their clean, shiny, trimmed puppy and headed home.
Kelli then introduced herself to Dallas, a St. Bernard, who is just heading into the shedding season. When Dallas saw the brush in Kelly’s hand, he rolled over onto his back, waving his massive paws in the air and then groaned with pleasure as the brush smoothed the long hair on his belly. If he had his way, he too would get groomed every six weeks.
Kelli said a good grooming will help get out the undercoat that seems to emerge like cotton for about a month. She said eliminating the majority of the hair shed is a boon for everyone, the dogs and the owners. She said that many people bring their dogs in for a twice a year shave down, which isn’t a good idea for several breeds, including labs, whose coats were not meant to be shaved.