Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brew's New Friend (in which Brewster keeps his tail up)

At the risk of damaging Brewster's burgeoning celebrity with the overexposure of two blog posts in less than 24 hours, I want to send a public thank you to Brewster's new good friend, Susan Cascio, who runs In the Neighborhood Dog Grooming.

Brewster has been going to Rags to Ribbons in Valley Center for several months, and I thought that was about as good a grooming experience as we were likely to get for him. At least I knew that the groomers were kind, even though the environment was loud and there were other dogs around that stressed him out. But after I posted about my terrible experience at Pet Haven and happened to mention that Brewster gets his grooming at Rags to Ribbons, Susan contacted me to let me know that she might have a better situation.

And oh boy is it better!

I should stop right here and say that I have no complaints about Rags to Ribbons. As I said, the groomers are kind and they've always treated Brewster very well. But for a puppybutt like Brewster, walking into that frenetic environment of barking dogs, loud blow dryers, and ringing phones couldn't help but be terrifying. The last time we went, he refused to walk in by himself. I had to pick him up and carry him in, and he's not that frightened even at the vet.

Susan runs her shop out of the back of her home in the Riverside neighborhood. She schedules specific appointments so there's never more than one dog in the shop at a time, and she does everything she can to make the environment soothing, even down to lavender aromatherapy and quiet music that drowns out outside noises. And for all the extra care she puts into creating a quiet environment that focuses on one dog at a time, her prices are the same or lower than most other shops in the neighborhood, including Rags to Ribbons. How could I not give her shop a try?

So for the last month, Brewster has been participating in Susan's puppy training program. The program is designed to get puppies used to being groomed in the least traumatic way possible, but it's done wonders for 6-year-old Brewster, too. We started with a 15-minute appointment, followed by a second 15-minute appointment the next week. During those appointments, Susan got Brewster used to being in the shop without actually doing any grooming. He got to sniff around, check out the clippers without actually having them used on him, and even examine the bathtub with no water in it. Since the appointments were very short, he learned that even when I left, I would be right back. Today we went back for the final "training" appointment, a 30-minute appointment that included a real bath.

And, people, when Brewster walked into the shop this afternoon, his tail stayed up. He was nervous--he'll always be nervous--but he wasn't frightened. He sniffed around and happily accepted a treat from Susan as if she were an old friend. Which I guess is exactly what she is now.

So I want to publicly thank Susan, and let her know how much I appreciate the time she has spent learning how to work with nervous dogs like Brew. Now, instead of having to go to a stress-inducing grooming appointment, Brewster gets to hang out with his friend, Susan.

Thank you, Susan!

Looking fluffy after his bath.

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