Getting AJ groomed has always been a nightmare.  Partially, because he becomes defensive and mean and thinks that we’ve abandoned him, and partially because it’s hard to find a groomer that doesn’t make him look like a little girl, show dog.  I think groomers lose their minds a little bit when you bring a poodle in.  A poodle?!?!  Fun!?! When in actuality, I just want my little bundle of fur to look like a puppy.  I eventually learned that this is called a puppy cut, and you have to specify that you don’t want him to look like a poodle.  I LOVE poodles, but I really don’t want AJ to have a huge fluffy head, a ball on his tail, a shaved face, and shaved paws with puff balls above them.  It’s embarrassing for him. And me.

I still vividly remember the first time we had AJ groomed.  We had just adopted him, and he still had bad separation anxiety.  I could hear him screeching the minute we walked in the door.  They tried to tell us he wasn’t too bad, but his screams and his haircut said it all.  He looked horrible.  (I clearly didn’t specify I didn’t want him cut like poodle….) He fought with them so much that he was unevenly shaved, he had a huge uneven puff on his head, and he was shaved to the skin in all the wrong places.  I kept telling James it was fine, but the whole drive home he just continued talking about how horrible AJ looked.  It was so bad that our next door neighbors who were strung out on drugs all the time took one look at him and told us we should never take him back to that groomer.  They then showed up at our door ten minutes later with their shaving kit and told us we should probably fix our dog’s haircut. Awesome. Even the druggies thought he looked horrible. So with that sad news, we took scissors and the razor to him and fixed him as best we could.

In the past five years, we have had some special experiences at the groomers, including a groomer dumping our dog out of the kennel and telling us she couldn’t groom him because he tried to bite her and an uncountable number of haircuts we have had to fix.  One of my biggest fears about moving to Japan was that we wouldn’t be able to find a groomer for AJ.  1) AJ is horrible at the groomers.  2) AJ usually doesn’t like women, especially Asian and Hispanic women (sorry….) and 3) We don’t speak enough Japanese to profusely apologize for his behavior.  But thankfully we have found a place that seems to be able to work with him.

Dog Freaks! (Ummm…best name ever?) The first day I dropped him off at Dog Freaks, he cried like I was abandoning him forever, which was something he hadn’t done since he was a puppy.  I motioned to them that he bites, and they seemed to smile knowingly.  For the entire three hours, I was so worried AJ was going to bite someone and I was going to have to go to the hospital to gomenasai to the poor groomer.  Thankfully, no phone calls and I picked him up three hours later.  When I showed up, he was behind the front desk with all of the other dogs, just sitting there smiling.  He looked amazing and happy.  Two things that had never happened before!  I paid the woman (a small fortune) and she handed me an adorable picture of AJ surrounded by toys and balls. So cute! I was thrilled.  Finding a great groomer was a huge burden lifted off of my shoulders.  It seemed perfect…

The honeymoon didn’t last long.  Every time AJ goes to Dog Freaks, his behavior seems to be getting worse and worse.  He still looks fabulous though.  I really don’t know how they do it.  I had AJ groomed in the states this spring, so he just now went back to the groomers in Japan.  The last time he had been groomed there, he was crying when I showed up, and everyone came from the back and thanked me and bowed when I picked him up.  He wasn’t playing with the other dogs this time, and he didn’t get a picture.  I felt bad that they had to deal with my crazy poodle all day, and though they didn’t say anything, I could tell they were happy to have him leave.  When we returned from the states, I tried to make an appointment, but the lady hesitated and went to the back to talk to someone.  I thought, maybe they are very busy, even though I could see the calendar which looked like it had openings.  She came back up front after talking to someone in the back, verified my name again, and pulled AJ’s file.  She asked me if I was free for an apt the next week and I said yes.  Then she glanced at AJ’s file, apologized, and went to the backroom again.  I was getting confused, as this had never happened before.  I glanced at his file when she was in the back, and all of it was in Japanese, except for one word in all caps.  ANGER.  Huh.  Anger.  My adorable little poodle?  Sigh… Probably…. Eventually they did make AJ an appointment, but I was getting very worried we would need to find a new groomer.  I feel bad that AJ hates the groomers so much, but they do a fabulous job with him, and I would recommend them to anyone!

Angry Poodle a video by WanderingHokies on Flickr.