Updated: Jan 22
I have used a cattle blower for years on my donkeys. It worked great on them and did me absolutely no good with the dogs. Yes, the hair would blow around, but that didn't accomplish much. In the photo below, you can see that my two white dogs left hair everywhere in Rheanna's shop. ALL of the hair you see on the floor was simply lifted off the top of their coats after the blower separated the fluff of their winter coats from their silky summer hair. We washed both dogs and used the blower to dry them. The blower untangled the mats in their hair almost entirely. We did work on a few tough ones, but mostly the dogs were comfortable while we worked on them. This is in contrast to what most Maremmas go through in grooming, with tugging and pulling on their mats - that hurts! This does not.
I did not want to purchase a new blower! I had a perfectly good blower, or so I thought. After this educational session with my patient friend, I bought the blower she told me to. Using it here at home has made SUCH a huge difference in the amount of time it takes me to groom my dogs.
In the photo below, Lili's coat is still very damp, so a lot of her skin is showing. Notice the rows of fluffy hair. This blower is powerful enough to get under the matted hair, untangle most of it, and blow it out to the ends of the silky hair. At that point, it is very easy to just lift the loose fluff off the dog - no uncomfortable pulling required.
Really look at their expressions. At this point, we had been at Rheanna's shop for at least three hours. The dogs had climbed the ramp into the bathtub, which of course, was an experience they had never had before. They had never been inside a shop like this before, and they certainly had never heard the roar of a blower or felt such a thing on their bodies. I did not give either dog Trazodone, as I often use it here for grooming; honestly, on this day, I didn't think of it. And I was much more nervous about trusting the process than the dogs seemed to be for most of it. At one point, when we had Boni in the tub, Rheanna told me that if I didn't settle down and remember to breathe that I had to leave Boni because, according to her, I was making him nervous. Could be. I had never seen any of this process before, either, so I didn't know what to expect of Rheanna or my dogs. She has been grooming my Mini Schnauzer for several years, but she doesn't let me watch that because Josie fusses if I stay.
I am convinced that there must be very few groomers such as Rheanna. She has such patience and kindness in her gentle handling of the dogs. She uses a loop around their shoulder and on one front leg, diagonally, rather than tethering the dogs by a collar because that can frighten dogs. When we first used the blower on the dogs, she had me turn both dogs loose in the back portion of the shop. She sat on the floor and blew air up, down, around, glancing off a dog or two, and back up and around......and on and on until the dogs were no longer worried. All of this is why the dogs are smiling in the photo rather than showing stress.
Where I am going with this is that, as a trainer, I know how important this careful handling is to the trust relationship a dog has with humans. I would NEVER entrust my dogs to a groomer I didn't explicitly trust, and since that circumstance is unlikely in most people's lives (because groomers don't readily share their secrets), I think it makes good sense to own this equipment, as an owner of the dog, and to learn to do this grooming yourself. If you don't feel that is possible, do your dogs a favor and ask your vet for Trazodone for them. This drug is like Valium for people. It takes that upper edge of fear off of the dog while still allowing them to learn from the experience and to fear it less as time goes on. For most of the dogs I have groomed at home, I have only had to use drugs once, or maybe twice, and by the third time, they are willing to trust me a little - or even a lot. And for a groomer such as Rheanna, finishing the whole dog is necessary. For me, at home, I can give the dogs breaks as needed, even over different days as needed. This sort of wise handling makes a big difference to dogs. They can learn that grooming means treats and cuddles!
In the video below, you'll see the blower in action - it's a super short, noisy video! I suggest you watch it with the sound off!!
Benson Maremmas - Lili & the Blower - The Grooming Series