Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Perfect Puffs

If you know me at all, you know I'm a little weird about my dogs.

And you know that my life is one dramatic disaster after another.

So it should come as no surprise that finding a good groomer for her Royal Highness, Princess Snowflake Sassypants, has been a bit of a challenge.

I was taking her to Petsmart but then we had the Unfortunate Balding Incident of 2014 when I went in to pick her up and wasn't even sure they were giving me the right dog:

(It is interesting to note that when I sent Opie
 this picture at work he asked "Did you ask them to do
 that?" Like I would ask anyone to bald my dog.)

The groomer assured me that this was totally necessary, that underneath her topcoat she was a matted mess of dreadlocks. So, idiot that I am, I actually took her back one more time and THEY SHAVED HER EARS AGAIN.

"You really need to brush her ears," the groomer told me while I was still fighting the urge to beat her to death with a pair of hair clippers.

"I do brush her ears," I snapped. "I brush her all the time.  I brush her, I put her hair in bows to match her outfits and she's probably the best-dressed dog in Oklahoma! I can't understand why this keeps happening!!"

The groomer had no explanation but I think it's fairly obvious she was secretly a neo-nazi skinhead who was trying to populate the world with skinhead dogs as part of some sick subversive skinhead rebellion.

Opie calls that kind of conclusion "over-reacting" but he's always been a little naive about the nefarious ways of violent fringe groups.

In any case, we both agreed it was time to get a new groomer.

And then I remembered that my friend Paula has a Maltese named Charlie and she recently bought a pair of clippers and began grooming him herself. "Maybe I should do that," I said. "Think of all the money we'd save!"

After we stopped laughing about the sheer ridiculousness of that suggestion, we asked one of our neighbors who they took their dog to.

Which is how we met Stella Faye.

On the upside, Stella Faye is a great groomer. She's a sweet older lady, probably in her 70s or so, she and her daughter run their shop out of a converted garage and she's been grooming small dogs for over 40 years.  And she has so many clients that she doesn't even need to advertise, she's not even in the phone book for the love of heaven,which is why we had never heard of her before.

On the downside, her name is Stella. So every time I go into the shop, or talk to her on the phone, or mention her to Opie, I am nearly overcome by the urge to scream "STELLA!" over and over like Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire.

The other downside is that I'm pretty sure Stella Faye thinks I'm crazy.

As you may have guessed from the fact that she has two first names, Stella Faye is as country as a turnip green. Sweet and nice but not the kind of person who appreciates things like a fabulous leopard print puppy coat with matching collar.

This was not noticeably helped by the fact that one of the first things I said was "If, for any reason, you decide to shave her ears I'd appreciate it if you'd call me first."

Stella Faye stared at me for a long minute and then asked "Honey, why would I shave her ears?"

Since this was our first meeting, I decided not to share my skinhead theory and just muttered that we'd had some problems with our last groomer.

The second issue was that she has two Maltese puppies herself and assumed I wanted one of the traditional Maltese haircuts which look a little something like this:

"Not exactly," I said.  "Those are too masculine. I want something a little more lady-like. I want the body cut really short but I want her ears, topknot and tail left long."

"I can do that," she said.

"And I want boot puffs."

At which point Stella Faye stared at me for another long minute. "What are boot puffs?" She asked.

"You know, puffs of fur left long around her ankles so it kind of looks like she has boots on."

"If that's what you want," she said dubiously.

But the first time she tried it, she only left the fur long on Sassy's paws.  Like she was wearing strange, dustmoppy, bedroom slipper puffs--NOT the look we were going for at all.

So, the next time we went in, I tried to explain better. "I want the puffs to go further up her legs," I said. "So when I put socks on her, the fur puffs out over the top of them and it looks like she's wearing fur-lined boots."

"You put socks on her?" Stella Faye asked.

"Only when it's cold," I lied.

At which point I'm pretty sure Stella Faye was so horrified by the thought of a sock-wearing Sassy that she couldn't really concentrate on appropriate puffs. That time when I picked her up, she was puffy all the way up her she was wearing thigh-high puffy boots like some sort of prostitute dog.

It's kind of hard to tell from this picture
 but these are the ridiculous full puffs.
But the third time was a charm!  I found a picture on the Internet, took it in with me, and Stella Faye created the perfect puffs:

She always looks so serious in pictures!!!

"Yes, yes, YES!" I gushed when I picked her up.  "Those are the perfect puffs! I have a perfectly puffed pup!"

"Honey," Stella Faye said. "I've been grooming dogs for forty years and NO ONE has ever asked me for anything like that for a Maltese."

"Not yet," I told her. "But just you wait.  You know how people are always copying royalty...I think this is going to be the next big thing in canine fashion statements."

And Stella laughed.

But I'm pretty sure she still thinks I'm crazy.

So, to summarize, boot puffs are awesome but hard to explain, you should always ask people you know before getting a new groomer, and if you know what's good for you, you'll be on the look-out for a subversive skinhead grooming rebellion.