You might never guess it from looking at our sweet, droopy-faced hound, but Electra can be a bit of a handful. Most of the time, she is good as gold. She doesn’t bark incessantly. She doesn’t lick compulsively. She’s not in your face and hyper (in fact, she just might be the laziest dog on the planet). She is sweet, mellow, patient (except at mealtimes), and she has one of the most adorably sad faces that you’ll ever see.

In many ways, Electra is the perfect pet. Her faults are so few and far between that it almost makes them more pronounced in contrast to her normally angelic behavior. And one of her few shortcomings is her aversion to grooming.

Perhaps aversion isn’t even the right word. I don’t think Electra really hates being groomed. In fact, she seems to sort of like having a bath. She’s not really a big fan of being put in the bathtub, but every time I have ever bathed her, she has been a perfect lady. She stands patiently while being lifted in and out of the tub and shampooed and rinsed. And, like most other dogs, she takes off the moment she’s set free to do several frenzied laps around the house, pausing only to roll on her back and rub her face on the carpet.

It was the toenail clipping that I could never seem to get a handle on. First, I tried one of those Pedi-Paw contraptions, which is little more than a battery-powered cylinder of spinning sandpaper. At first it seems to do the job, but then you realize that the sandpaper is completely used up after the first toenail. By the time I would get to the third toenail, Electra’s patience was wearing thin and I was all out of treats. So, to save both of our sanity, I purchased a pair of toenail clippers and gave it a go. The first time I clipped too close to the quick, Electra gave a window-rattling yelp, and that was the end of in-home grooming for both of us.

So, we decided to take Electra to Petsmart to be groomed. We should have known that plan was destined for failure. Electra tends to get pretty anxious in new situations, and too much noise and activity can make her cringe. There were half-a-dozen other dogs in the room–some being bathed, others clipped or blown dry. After signing her in with the groomer, we left to do a little shopping and grab a bite to eat. Like a nervous parent dropping her child off for the first day of school, I wondered how Electra was managing in our absence.

When we returned, we saw Electra huddled beneath one of the grooming stations, her tail tucked so far between her hind legs that it almost looked as if she didn’t even have one. She was shaking so hard you would have thought she was having an epileptic seizure, and there were two thick ropes of drool hanging from her jowls all the way to the floor.

We waited patiently for our turn, and then finally stepped up to the counter to pay and collect our poor traumatized dog. The minute Electra saw us standing there, she began to pull against the leash that held her to the table. The groomer quickly untied her, but not before Electra started wheezing and honking loudly–the infamous “reverse sneeze” that Beagles are known for. By then, everyone in the room was looking at us and our poor distraught dog.

As we settled the bill, the groomer filled us in on the events that had transpired in our absence. Less than ten seconds after the groomer had lifted Electra onto the table, Electra jumped off. Because the groomer had Electra tied to the table, she had managed to strangle herself when she bailed off the side, and it took the groomer and two assistants to stop her from thrashing around help her back up onto the table where she belonged.  At that point, Electra was so scared that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with the groomer, even when the groomer began pulling treats out of her pocket. Somehow, with the help of one of the assistants, the groomer managed to finish the job.

Obviously, we decided that Petsmart grooming–or any busy public grooming location like it–was not an option for Electra. So, when we moved to Lincoln, I started examining our options and looking for something that might be a bit easier on our dear dog’s nerves.

Back when I had my Shih Tzu, Angel, we used to have her groomed by a woman who ran a small dog grooming business out of her house. It was always a quiet and relaxed atmosphere with only one appointment scheduled at a time. And instead of being tied to a table, Angel was suspended in harness that kept her from flailing around and hurting herself. In all the years that we had Angel groomed, we never had a problem with her being frightened.

When I first ran across the ad for Critter Clippers, I knew it was the perfect choice for Electra. The mobile grooming company rolls up to your driveway in a state-of-the-art van that has everything your pet needs for a complete grooming experience. The groomer comes to your door, takes your pet for 30 minutes or an hour (depending on the extent of the grooming), and then returns them to your door clean, clipped, and looking fantastic.

So far, Electa has had four appointments and she has yet to attempt to strangle  herself. In fact, our groomer, Stephanie, has given Electra consistent A+ grades at all of her appointments. Atta girl!

Tonight’s 365 Project is dedicated to our dear Electra and to our good friends at Critter Clippers who keep her looking beautiful without making her crazy.

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