The Nightmare Before Christmas

13 Dec




“Hey Charity, are you up for a challenge?” My boss strolls into the salon on Saturday with a smile, knowing my answer.

“Maybe. It depends on what it is.” I know him too well to say yes. He’s given me a 16 year old senile and aggressive Bouvier that was a solid pelt and couldn’t stand without the assistance of 2 men and a second groomer manning a clipper. When he says challenge he means it.

“Puffball’s mom is on the phone.” The Bichon I dyed orange all over and turned into a jack o lantern for Halloween. “she wants to know if you can take her in 15 minutes. She has a party tonight and wanted a Christmas dye job, candy canes or Christmas trees or something.”

“is she still orange?” I ask, as the vivid orange we use qualifies as a permanent as far as I’m concerned.

“i don’t know, she’s on the phone. I haven’t told you the challenge yet. She needs her out by 5.” I glanced at the clock. It’s now 12:15 and I have half a dog to finish and two to start. One of the prerequisites of my Extreme Makeovers is NO TIME LIMITS. A couple of dyed ears or paws is simple and takes minimal extra time, but creating a whole new look is a challenge and occasionally a dye doesn’t take well and has to be reapplied and requires additional setting time. Most colors are foolproof for me by this time, but some are touchy and only set when they feel like it. Makeovers can be a pain in the ass, and now she has a time limit?

“okay, ill do it. She’s on line one?” I’m a sucker for a makeover on a client I know is good.

15 mins later she arrives with an orange nightmare. I warned her that this color sticks around and she waved me off, after all I had said the same thing about Hot Pink and it faded in 4 weeks.

She says I can shave her if necessary to get rid of the orange, but she wants a Christmas theme. Whatever I want, she says, just be done by 5… 530 at the latest.

Oookay. I send my boss to the store for red and green dye and run to Walgreens myself for Head and Shoulders, which I heard was detrimental to crazy colored dye. I shampooed with H&S, rinsed. Some color bled but not enough to stain a cottonball. Applied Neem shampoo and rinsed. More bleeding, I now have a damp neon orange cheetoh in the tub. One more application, this time a gentle Whitening shampoo just on her rear legs, which I plan to use to create a 3rd shape. Immediate rinse and towel dry, followed by a thorough dry. Why dry by hand? Because I wanted that hair as long as possible so I could leave as much white new hair growth after clipping the orange.

I planned on 3d hip candy canes and green pom pon boots. I had an inkling that green wouldn’t cover orange, past experiences with two different brands had had zero results when rinsed (I’m ordering Avatar come spring). I suppose I was praying for a miracle.

I finished a shih Tzu haircut in half an hour and his matted yorkie “sister” most of the way through before I had to pause the yorkie and get Puffball processing. I used MP Vampires Red and Electric Lizard green, pressed saran wrap on the canes and wrapped processing foil around the legs. Another of my bosses stood with a hand under Puffball to support her and keep her from sitting while I finished the Yorkie. About half an hour later my boss handed the responsibility off to my 3rd boss (3 owners of the business, all awesome) and escaped to pick up her kids.

I put the Yorkie away and rinsed the two color swatches I’d made from Puffball’s hair clippings and applied color to. This is a foolproof way to test if your dog is ready for rinsing BTW. The red was vivid and gorgeous. The green washed right away.

Crap. Decision time. Do I let the dye set longer and hope for a miracle? Do I rinse and use red? Do I just shave the feet and leave the canes?

I run it by Boss 3 and she nods and says to rinse now, it’s better to get her done than waste time hoping. I agree. However, while drying I can’t stand how unbalanced she looks with exaggerated canes and nothing else. I .can’t dye her ears, she’s bratty for it and shakes her head too much.

I decide to do red front poms and shave the rear, finishing the rest of the haircut while her front feet process. Dyeing all four feet will be too messy to finish the rest of the haircut. It’s now 4.

At 430 I have the canes carved and shaped and the rear feet trimmed. They look orange/green and pukey but too late for that. Mom knows the risk of covering one color with another. I have her face finished by 445. Her head, once trimmed short, looks like an orange and white globe made out of orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream, but short of shaving it, there’s nothing to do.

I quickly rinse her front feet, dry, and shape them. Festive Red feather bows and a quick photo in the back has me done by 515. I have a maltese to shave now, so I ask our receptionist to call and set aside a personalized mini stocking filled with upscale treats (i give these to all my regulars at Christmas).

A few minutes later, Mom squealed with joy and laughed and lAughed as puffball danced around to show off. I told her that by Valentines day the orange should be grown out enough to snip off, and we could do hearts for the holiday. She laughed again, thanked me, and left.



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