When I got the call from Zoe Zimmer of Zoe’s Canine Designs I braced myself for bad news.
Sure enough, Zoe was calling to tell me that in compliance with state laws, she wouldn’t be able to groom my poodle, Merlin, until after the stay-at-home order was lifted.
I looked at Merlin, whose fur was so long he could barely see, and knew I had to do something.
“I’m ordering a dog-grooming kit from Amazon,” I told my family over lunch that day.
“OK,” said my teenager, “but don’t be one of those Gen-Xers who blunders into something without bothering to study it on YouTube first.”
“Of course not,” I said, failing to admit that YouTube hadn’t occurred to me.
The grooming kit arrived a week later. It spent three days quarantined in the garage before I Lysoled the heck out of it and brought it into the house. I plugged in the clipper charger and sat down in front of my computer, ready to learn Poodle Grooming 101 from YouTube.
The groomer I watched made it look easy — at first. But when she got to the part about lifting up the poodle’s tail and shaving the backside, I got nervous. When she demonstrated plucking fur out of the dog’s ears, I became scared. By the time the groomer shaved the dog’s genitals, I was in full-on panic mode.
It took another 24 hours for me to build up my courage to groom Merlin. I put on my favorite leggings and a comfy top, and spread out a huge blanket on the floor. My daughter had bathed Merlin the night before, and brushed him out so he was ready to go. “Here, Merlin,” I called. I patted the blanket and he trotted over like a lamb to the slaughter.
The clippers hummed quietly as I pulled them across Merlin’s back. Clumps of fur fell to the blanket and little bits of fuzz flew up in the air. I quickly realized why the YouTube groomer wore a mask, because it became hard to breathe. I looked down and saw that my favorite leggings were covered with fur, and my sweater might never be the same again. Stupidly, I hadn’t thought to wear old clothes and an apron.
When I held the scissors to Merlin’s ears, I was too afraid to trim the fur around the leather like the YouTube lady did, and no way was I plucking anything. But I was brave enough to lift Merlin’s tail and clean up his rear end. By the time I was done, my once-posh poodle looked like a scrappy mutt from the pound. He had a neck beard, and fur on places where fur shouldn’t be.
“Well, Mom,” said my son when he saw the results, “you did the best you could.”
Ain’t that the truth. Merlin will just have to sport the quarantine chic look until Zoe can work her magic again.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at email@example.com.