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Where do you sit on this scale?

Today's missive was prompted by a video I watched at 6 am this morning.  You know I love a challenge, and, having been sent disappointingly to St Aldates College Oxford instead of Art School (which was my passion) I decided to join The Bonny Snowdon Academy last week... (It's taken 40 years, but better late than never, eh?). 

You've seen some of my watercolour work - all the technical knowledge was gleaned from Mrs Richards, my inspirational art teacher at Luckley Oakfield School and Bill Collier, who runs a fabulous little art class in Fifield, Berkshire on a Tuesday evening.  But recently, a couple of my friends who paint have suddenly seriously upped their game and the work they're posting online now is quite simply amazing.  Both of them have joined this academy and, having watched the first couple of video modules I was suddenly reminded of a lesson learned 30 years ago at the Volhard Instructor (Dog) Training Camp in the USA about The Four Stages of Learning.

I recognised that when I signed up for the BSA I was definitely in the first box of the diagram above, and having watched the first series of videos on materials I've now moved into the second and very scary box - that of Conscious Incompetence and this made me think about my clients; about how many people out there actually understand the art of competent home maintenance?

The Four Stages Of Learning - applied to a Dog Owner with reference to grooming are: 

Unconscious Incompetence which is the state of the brand new (1st time) puppy owner.  Typically they've just spent the content of a pocket-sized gold mine on a puppy and they have been told that the puppy is 
  • hypoallergenic
  • non-shedding
  • low maintenance
  • should not go to the groomer before it is a year old
  • must be cut with scissors not clippers
  • does not require training to be on a grooming table
  • is a mixed breed and therefore full of hybrid vigour and will not suffer from any inherited diseases from the parent breeds. 
Conscious Incompetence occurs pretty much immediately after the client dials my number from their phone and hears those infamous words, "Hello, Katie speaking..."

Conscious Competence is the state which, in my humble opinion, is the responsibility of every groomer to put their clients into. This will involve teaching the client
  • what the composite breed of dog that they have purchased actually means.  Ie: High Maintenance Poodle x High Maintenance Show Cocker = High Maintenance Cockapoo, or Low Maintenance Whippet x High Maintenance Bedlington Terrier = Medium/Low Maintenance Lurcher.
  • which tools are appropriate for their dog's coat
  • which products are required to keep the coat clean and unmatted in between grooms (and who is responsible for that bit)
  • the correct interval/schedule for
    • the dog's type
    • the family's lifestyle 
    • the amount of time available after every walk
  • the most appropriate hairstyle for the level of skill and time they have
  • how to train their dog to behave on the grooming table
Any groomer who says, "it's not my job to teach all this" is, in my humble opinion, either in the wrong profession, delusional or both.  If their clients aren't at this stage fairly promptly after joining their client base, they'll swiftly be joining the ranks of groomers posting in private groups about their hatred of mixed-breed dogs, the emotional drain of the shavedown and/or the delusional requirements of their groomer-hopping-owners.  "Groomer-Hopping" by the way, is deserving of an article in itself, given the damage it does. This is of course, because their owners, in their naive state of Unconscious Incompetence, will be bringing their untrained matted monsters in once every 12 weeks - always expecting miracles, always to be disappointed yet again by another shavedown experience which leads to a hop to the next groomer - and the cycle continues ad Infinitum.

Unconscious Competence is that glorious state that most of my clients are in right now and that other groomers aspire to achieve with theirs.  These clients know
  • what line brushing is and how to check their work with a comb
  • how to use professional quality shampoo at the correct dilution when bathing their dog at home, how often they need to do that and how to dry their dog properly
  • the importance of always drying a poodle/bichon/cross coat and never leaving it dirty to dry naturally
  • getting their dog trimmed short before they go on holiday and leave it with someone else
  • their dog's hair doesn't stop growing because they didn't book ahead - and that booking a year ahead is actually a good idea
  • when life conspires against them (and it sometimes does) that the coat will grow back after a shavedown
  • and that a Good Groom is NEVER Cheap and a Cheap Groom is NEVER Good  (thanks Jackie Grimmett). 
I was notified last week that predictably, dog food prices have increased.  This is therefore the new price list for your next ProDog Raw order. The freezer is currently fully stocked (12 x all flavours) and will be replenished once a month.

This is what the next couple of weeks look like currently. 
Free appointments are in yellow text
and the complete list is at the bottom of this section

Tuesday, 3rd May

9.00 Bullet Taee and Looby Jackson
1.00 Frankie Weaver and Cloggy Perry

Wednesday, 4th May (May the fourth be with you 🤣😉)
9.00 Oakley Knight and Eric Keeble
1.00 Macey Player and FREE

Thursday, 5th May
9.00 Toto Pidgely and Wolfie Kerr
1.00 Maya Hopkins and Lucy Wilkie

Friday, 6th May (don't get excited, its only because there's no Monday this week)
9.00 Patch and Freddy Day
1.00Sebastiabn Travina and Scarlet Ghedia

Monday, 9th May
9.00 Lily Rolls and Elsa Castle
1.00 Michaela Rizou and Coco Buxton

Tuesday, 10th May
9.00 Evie Attwater and  FREE 
1.00 Poppy and Ivy Higgs

Wednesday, 11th May 
9.00 Scrappy and Willow Bambury
1.00 Betsy Holloway and Koda Castle

Thursday, 12th May
9.00 Darcy Gill and Lily Durose
1.00 Zavi Hamilton Andrews and Hattie Morris

Monday, 16th May
9.00 Bobby Ross and Oscar Kirby
1.00 Max Thompson and Flash Scott

Tuesday, 17th May

Wednesday, 18th May
9.00 Moo Wylie and Dave Abrahams
1.00 Yashi Bull and Wolife Buxton

Thursday, 19th May
9.00 Hopper Hujan and Daisy Cochrane 
1.00 Florance Jonas and Teddy Martinez

Friday, 20th May 
CLOSED - CPD Scissoring with Melanie Winters-Holmes and Charlotte Howard

Monday, 23rd May
CLOSED - CPD Canine First Aid with Sophie Bell at 2 Left Paws, Crowthorne

There are still some spaces on this invaluable course.  If you don't know what you'd do if your dog injured itself on a walk, swallowed something totally inappropriate or had a seizure in front of you - get booked on this invaluable course.  Kayla tells me there are a couple of tickets left.  This isn't just for canine professionals - everyone who owns a dog will benefit from it.

Tuesday, 21st May 
9.00 Maggie Blundell and FREE
1.00 Teddy and Snoop Dye

Wednesday, 22nd May 
9.00 Reggie Braccettie and FREE
1.00 FREE and FREE

Thursday, 23rd May
9.00 Lily and Rollo Durose
1.00 Red Thomas (Double Appointment)

Monday, 30th May
9.00 Leia Cook and Toto Pidgely
1.00 Frankie, Dixie and Domino Amabile

Tuesday, 31st May
9.00 Buster Brown and Cloggy Pelly
1.00 Amber Morris and Frankie Weaver


Free Appointments May 
Wednesday, 4th @ 1
Tuesday 10th @ 9
Thursday 12th @ 1
Tuesday 21st @ 9
Wednesday, 22nd @ 9 and 1
It's available in both the App Store (iPhones) or Play Store (Android).  Just remember to use the same email address as you get your appointment notifications from! 

Looking forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

Many thanks and kind regards
Katie Rourke Dowding
International Certified Master Groomer
T: 01344 291465  M: 07767 341424 E:
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