If you or anyone you know has ever had a dog, this ought to crack you up. You see, our dog was a mess, bless her heart – and she taught me some lessons this week. Our black Cocker Spaniel is going on ten years old, and she has always been a wonderful, loving, playful dog. You can guess what age and stage my daughter was in when we got the puppy and named her Jasmine. (Disney Princess anyone?) Spaniels are known for their beautiful long sleek hair that makes a flowing skirt around their bodies. However, the reality is unless we keep her in the house and brush her morning and night, that skirt will get um… a little dirty and tangled. Let’s just say her princess dress is not always so pretty.
You might not know this, but spaniels are bird dogs. Behind our home is a vacant lot that birds love to frequent – and so does Jasmine, by way of nose under the fence and bum in the air. Jasmine likes to run the perimeter and make sure our house is safe from those loud obnoxious birds. (Poor robins, sparrows and killdeer!) She’d never hurt one, but she lets them know who is boss without barking a word.
In our backyard, we have a big pine tree that was once shorter than the fence but is now taller than our two-story house. It has shed a few needles over the years, and they aren’t the kind that mend Jasmine’s skirt very well. Add the grass and weeds and mud, and trust me, it’s no fairy “tail”! Not only does it not look very nice, it is not a fragrance any princess should wear.
Soooooo…. about twice a year, this poor pup goes through a humiliating ordeal…. called grooming. No matter how hard we try, she gets matted feet and underarms and ears, and the only solution is to shave her. I get disgruntled looks from the groomers, but hey, that’s what they get paid for. We drop off Jasmine looking like a filthy mop and pick her up like a brand new puppy.
Now, Jasmine has several responses to this routine. One is, you know she’s horribly embarrassed because she has got to feel naked without all that hair. On the other hand, it has to feel SO much better to not have that hot and heavy coat with so many mats pulling on her. Thirdly, she’s probably just relieved to be off that grooming table and away from the lady with the scissors.
The first thing she does when she gets home (well, after running the perimeter!) is roll and rub and scoot in the grass. What is that awful (clean) smell on her that she must scrape off somehow?! Then, of course there’s the obligatory once-over from her partner in crime, our Chocolate Lab with the uniquely-spelled name of Cokoa – who has gratefully never set paw in a groomer’s office. Jasmine no longer has the skirt for protection, so it can get a little awkward, but she knows how to stand her ground.
After a couple of days, though, Jasmine gets used to her new look and starts to feel more like herself again. (See her Before & After pictures below!) And a couple of months later, her skirt is mended and starting to flow in the breeze as she runs her bird check. And you can tell that she feels like a happy young pup once again. Then, here comes winter, and we get ready for the whole rigmarole once more – this time with clumps of snow turning her into a poor example of Olaf.
This is a true story! So what’s YOUR story? And I’m not talking about dogs anymore. What needs to be SHAVED from your life so you can feel like a happy young pup again?
Here are 6 Life Lessons from Grooming a DOG:
- Brush out the tangles often. We all have mats – circumstances and people that contribute to creating messy knots in our lives. They start out as small irritants and grow ever-so-gradually, so we barely notice them – until they become so thick that they are painful. The key to avoiding the mat is to tackle the snarls when they’re small and not let them get too big.
- Quit looking under the fence. Sometimes we put our noses in other people’s business or look over (under) the fence to see if the grass is greener. When we compare what we have to what someone else has (or doesn’t have) we complicate our lives unnecessarily. In reality, chances are they’re wishing they were you. Be grateful for your own situation, whatever it is.
- Shave it all off if needed. When things get out of hand, it might be time to consider cutting the losses. It can be liberating to get a fresh start. If there is a habit, a relationship, a job or something else that is toxic and damaging other areas of your life, have the courage to get the razor for a clean shave. It will feel funny at first, but you’ll come back stronger.
- Accept the consequences. Life didn’t get this way “just because.” If you’re honest, you made choices and actions that contributed to the way things are. When we get to that point, it can be embarrassing, because we don’t like to have our weaknesses exposed. However, there is also peace in the truth, and it can be a relief to have that pressure removed. Admit that you had a part in the way things transpired, and know that it will get better.
- Seek support from friends. Make sure the people you trust have actually been where you want to go. If they’ve never set foot in your field, don’t listen to their nay-saying. You will get questions from people, some who will be supportive and others who won’t be. Invest in someone who can believe for you even when you can’t believe for yourself. Approaching something new in life isn’t always easy, but it’s usually necessary in order to move forward.
- Prepare for the future. It may take a little time to get used to things being different, but the rewards are so worth it. Remember to have the brush handy to comb out those potential tangles, keep your nose at your own fence, be courageous when the mats build up, take responsibility for your participation, and be willing to accept assistance when offered and needed – because there will inevitably be another grooming appointment in your future.
The biggest life lesson from dog grooming is that DOG spelled backwards is GOD, and He’s ultimately in charge of the grooming. Give yourself the gift of time for reflection and self-care. Developing healthy habits is the best way to make the next trip to the groomers a more pleasant one. I’m curious – what is the groomer doing in your life? Please share it below! And if you’d enjoy more “Life Lessons” periodically, remember to subscribe (and you’ll be sent a gift!)
P.S. Here’s the Before & After of Jasmine’s trip to the Groomer. What a difference, huh?!