How To Get Through a Challenge

April 15th, 2014 by ificore

Blog PicEvery one of us, at some point in our lives, questions whether we made the right decision. You hastily agree to something. Weeks, or even months later, you really begin questioning your decision.

I just had that happen to myself not long ago.

Many of the upper echelon of the grooming world have officially ‘retired’ from competition level grooming. But we were always being asked to step back into the ring.  Those making the request were always met with, “No way!!” from every one of us.

It takes a lot of practice to stay in peak technical form. Most of us do not actively compete anymore. A few still groom a little at their salons for pet clients. Others, like me, have not physically groomed a dog in years. For most of us, we have become much better coaches to the grooming world than actually grooming the dogs!

Months ago, my good friend Teri DiMarino came up with a brilliant plan to get us ‘old-timers’ back in the competition ring. The question was, “If we held a rescue rodeo, limiting the number of entries to select retirees, would you accept the challenge if you were invited?”

Most people who know me know my all-time favorite grooming classes are rescue rodeos. This is real-life grooming. This is the type of thing we see in our salons every day. It’s a well-known fact that if a dog is as clean and attractive, it stands a much better chance of being adopted into a new home.

When it comes to grooming dogs, we are all softies. This is the most rewarding competitive level grooming class I have ever seen. So when I was asked if I would compete if I were invited, my immediate response was, “Absolutely!!”

A few months later, reality started to sink in. I started to second-guess my decision. Yes, I groom every day in my mind with my work. However, I have definitely come to a point in my life when I’m a much better coach than an actual groomer. Sure, in the 80s and early 90s I was on top of my game. I groomed every day. Unfortunately, physical limitations forced me away from the grooming table and a job I loved.

 I was able to redirect my career by helping others learn how to groom, advance their skill set and achieve their goals. I went from being an occupational athlete to being a desk jockey. To step back in the ring was going to take more than just wishful thinking. You have no idea how physically demanding the job is until you don’t do it anymore.

Fast forward to Intergroom 2014. The Celebrity Rescue Rodeo was upon us. Ten of us were invited. It’d been so long since I’d last groomed a dog, other than a small collection of shears, I had no equipment left.

Luckily, I was able to beg and borrow all the tools I needed. I did a little bit of practice grooming prior to the class. But as we entered the ring – all those old butterflies came fluttering back. I really begin questioning – what the heck was I doing in the ring?

I think all ten of us were feeling about the same way. But you know what? Once they said, “Groomers start!” all of us went right back into our competitive Zen-like zones. We put our heads down, focused, and got to work. We blocked most everything else out except the job at hand and making a strong connection with our rescue dog.

There may have only been one trophy. That’s OK. Everyone one of us thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I think all of us walked out of that ring proudly. We still had what it takes to make a pet appealing.

Concentration was the key. No matter how rough, tough, or challenging your grooming day might be – stay focused. You can get through it – you might even find the challenge rewarding — just as all ten of us ‘old timers’ did.  All of us were worried we couldn’t pull this off, but as we left the ring of the Celebrity Rescue Rodeo competition at Intergroom 2014, all of us felt like winners – and so did the dogs!

Happy Trimming!


P.S. Special Note:  About 30 minutes before they called ‘scissors down’, they said we could call in a ‘lifeline’ to help finish our dogs. I called for Suesan Watson. This is her signature head style. I told her I was going to do ‘her’ head style on this adorable little dog before the contest even started. I had seen her do it repeatedly in our video lessons and love it. Thanks Sue!