I found a single white dog hair in my coffee this morning. Ten minutes later, I was on the phone with Chad Davidson of the Pawlished Paw Mobile Grooming (619-792-7138; pawlishedpaw.com).
“When you’re looking for a groomer,” said Davidson, “you should ask them where they were trained. Also, do they sanitize their equipment? Are they trained to do anal glands? Will they clip the dog’s nails? Some groomers skip that step.
“I’ll do everything they’ll do in a salon,” continued Davidson. “That means washing, drying, brushing the hair out, grooming with clippers and scissors, clipping the nails, cleaning the ears, and brushing the teeth. The goal is to make the dog look really nice. It’s an art. I’ll groom the dog according to its body type. If the dog has a slumped back, I’ll leave the hair longer in the middle to minimize the visual effect. If a dog has a crooked leg, I’ll groom the hair to conceal it. Most dogs run $55 to $65 to start — the price may increase due to breed, weight, or temperament. And I’ll do cats if the cats allow it [$65–$85].”
Davidson told me about that nail-cutting step that some groomers skip. “Dogs have a quick, a vein that grows out into the nail. If you neglect to cut the nails, the vein can grow out past the pad, and then you have danger. If the quick is long, I’ll take a sanding tool and sand around it. The nail gets hot, and the quick will retract a little bit.” He also recommends that people walk their dogs on rough surfaces such as concrete to help wear the nails down.
Teeth require a less esoteric technique. “The dog toothbrush looks like a human toothbrush, with a flexible head and some bristles missing in the middle. I use an enzymatic toothpaste that breaks down bacteria on the teeth. If someone has a brush and toothpaste, I don’t charge extra. Otherwise, it’s $5 for the toothbrush and toothpaste. I’ll also train them on how to use it — it doesn’t do much good for me to brush the dog’s teeth if people don’t do it on a regular basis.”
Davidson works along the I-5 corridor from Coronado to Oceanside; I needed someone who visited East County. So I called Valerie Everard of Cherished Pet Mobile Grooming (619-925-5594). “One of the nice things about mobile grooming,” she said, “is that your pet doesn’t have to sit in a cage before getting groomed. Also, in salons pets are usually cage-dried after grooming — they’ll sit in the cage with a fan or a dryer attached. I take the pet directly into my van, and there are no cages, no other pets barking; it’s less stressful for both the pet and the owner. Especially as the pets get used to me and the van over time.”
The van, said Everard, is equipped with a two-tiered table that allows her to groom animals of different sizes. “From the table, the dog can walk into the tub. I have a hot-water heater and a 30-gallon tank. And a generator for when I can’t plug in anywhere. That runs my clippers and dryers.”
Besides washing, drying, and grooming, “I’ll check and clean the ears and make sure to remove hair in the breeds that grow hair in the ear canal. As for teeth, I don’t clean them, but I do check to see if something is rotting or infected. Some breeds have long hair that the strands will actually wrap around the tooth and start to pull it out. And I’ll check the anal glands to see if they’re impacted.”
Cats? “A lot of mobile groomers won’t do cats, but I’ve done a lot of them over the years, and I’ve found a groove. I do a lot of baths, drying, nail trimming, and teeth checks on cats. You have to be quick but also give them a little leeway. Make them feel like they can move without letting them go too far. You can’t just restrain them because they’ll get upset. I’ll give them lion cuts, which is where you shave the body and leave a sort of mane. A lot of cats won’t tolerate being combed, and the lion cut helps prevent fur matting.”
Everard’s prices start around $65 for a small dog and $75 for a cat. “A medium-to-large dog will run $75 to $85, and something like a fancy cut on a standard poodle might be $100.”