Grooming for older dogs and those with disabilities is a great way to promote good circulation and manage the hygiene.
Fate always rewards those who work hard and are sincere and genuine, this is certainly how I felt when I received a phone call from the owner of Zook – a local legend.
Zook is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and is the mature age of 16 years! He has lost the use of his hind legs but still has a passion for life. Staffordshire Bull terriers suffer from a bad image, a common icon associated with violence and aggression here in the UK. For anyone who has been fortunate enough to have a ‘Staffie’ in their lives will agree that they are the most loyal and playful characters and I would go as far as saying not aggressive by nature, unless abused.
Zook and his owner, have been searching for a local groomer but without much success so far. Of course the need for gentle handling is important and very significant with all dogs, but more importantly for older dogs and dogs with disabilities. The typical use of restraints are really not practical. Grooming the toes are also important as the typical methods will result in trauma and bleeding due to the longer Quicks as walking is reduced. A clean and sterile environment is also a must as the there is a higher risk of infection and a lower immunity for the older dogs.
Assessing the needs of Zook from the first phone call, it was nothing different to me, I use a chemical & palm free soap and do not like commercial shampoos as it damages the coat significantly, causing irritation and frazzled hair. The soap I use is hand made from high quality ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, castor oil and olive oil as the base with ingredients that add flavour and scent – organic and pesticide free. I decided that I would use a soothing and gentle Soap bar with Banana & Coco for Zook. This will wash and cleanse the coat as well as giving it a good conditioner. You can find out more & buy these soaps for yourself from Willow & Plum Soap Co. based in Fife, Scotland.
After a gentle introduction of myself to Zook by using some gentle massage and reiki techniques, I decided to trim the nails gently. Using the nail clippers to only remove shaving amounts until the start of the quick could be seen, this ensures a minimal risk of bleeding and discomfort.
The pre wash rinse was made up of Earl Grey tea and filtered water. The tea will help to clean the coat and skin from oils with its natural acidity and the filtered water will ensure that there is minimal levels of fluoride and limescale as well as be free from water based bacteria.
After applying a rich thick layer of creamy lather on Zook, fresh filtered, Tea free water was used to wash out all the soap and grime. The important thing was to ensure that the wash process was done as fast as possible so as not to cause too much of a temperature change and to allow the delicate skin to become soft and prone to tearing.
Drying was done with high quality dryers with a nozzle to ensure a gentle and warm air gets to the skin as well as the hairs. I use Aloe Vera to help ensure that any irritation from the process of drying and grooming is reduced to a minimum so dogs’ don’t suffer from the post groom itch! This is sprayed onto the coat and skin before drying.
Finally once Zook was completely dry, all that was left to do was to use a finishing blade to skim the coat and remove any dead dull hair and make the coat look glossy and vibrant. A final spray of cologne (alcohol free) made Zook smell like a distinguished and refined Gentleman again – a true ambassador for his breed & Charity!
Finally I presented a gift for Zook to his owners, a bed that is much more suited for dogs that is waterproof, breathes and has a removable cover for washing. This will help with supporting Zook and keeping him free from cold and damp. This will also help his owner to get some quality rest in his own bed as the need to keep moving Zook is done with the new bed – courtesy of A1 Grooming Ltd , TK-9 and the makers – Tuffies Dog Beds