It’s possible that the only things Denise Kramer loves more than “The Lord of the Rings” are her miniature schnauzers.
Kramer’s son named the oldest of the four dogs Jasmine, after a Disney character. The other three names are taken from the pages of Tolkien – Luthien Tinuviel (Lulu for short), Elbereth Gilthoniel (Gilly) and My Precious.
Under normal circumstances and coronavirus-free, Kramer’s schnauzers are perfectly groomed by two local stores, Best in Show Pet Grooming and Classic Tails. Lately, however, dogs and cats are having as much trouble getting a decent haircut as humans. It may seem like a frivolous need at a time when thousands of Sonoma County residents are being laid off and people are struggling to find toilet paper and sanitizer. But pet owners insist that good grooming, especially for some longhaired dogs, is anything but cosmetic.
âSchnauzers have a two-layered coat,â Kramer explained. âThe underlay is soft and cottony. The top layer is threadlike. If the underlay is not cleaned, it can cause carpeting, chafing, and irritation. My sister’s dog is part schnauzer and he got irritated under his arm. He contracted an infection and it cost him $ 450 at the vet. These mats should be removed regularly. A good groomer does this.
But good groomers are hard to find these days. They do not fall into the category of businesses that Sonoma County health worker Dr Sundari Mase has allowed to reopen following his initial stay-at-home order. This worries some families.
On the one hand, the matting problem is real. As the fur twists more and more, it can pull an animal’s skin and even tear it. And it’s not just tied hair.
Shaggy dogs like doodle mixes can catch fleas, ticks, and foxtail, all of which are potential health problems, and can be prone to overheating as the weather warms. If dogs don’t have their ears cleaned and shaved, they can get ear infections. If the anal glands are not expressed, they can rupture. Uncut fingernails can split or possibly bend enough to pierce the pads of an animal’s feet. Some dogs and cats are treated with prescription shampoos due to skin allergies.
The obvious solution is for pet owners to take care of these grooming tasks themselves. But not everyone has the right space or equipment, and some aged or compromised guardians may not feel up to it. Also, have you ever expressed a dog’s anal glands?
Many pet owners have become amateur stylists in recent weeks, but that can lead to photos like the one Sonoma County supervisor Lynda Hopkins posted to her Facebook account on Tuesday. Hopkins, a seasoned sheep farmer, took a clipper to his standard poodle, but the engine died halfway through the hum and the dog ended up looking like a college mascot victim of rival pranksters. Hopkins has become an advocate for pet groomers receiving some form of relief from the current restrictions.
“People are concerned about the well-being of their pets, in light of rising temperatures and the prevalence of pests and insects, as well as weeds and foxtail and things that can burrow. deep into the coat and cause problems, âshe said.
Mase noted on Wednesday that if a cleanliness issue becomes a health concern for a local pet, a veterinarian can refer the animal to a licensed groomer. But that’s another level of spending for pet owners at a time when many have little to no disposable income.
With stores officially closed, groomers are among the small business owners losing income. Amy Cadogan, co-owner of Hair of the Dog Pet Grooming on Stony Point Road, said she had to lay off her eight employees as soon as the stay-at-home order landed in mid-March. She has since received both a Paycheck Protection Program loan and an emergency advance for an economic disaster loan, and is preparing to rehire all workers.
âSo we’re good,â she said. âBut when we come back, if it’s mid-June, that money will be gone. It’s gonna be weird.
Some traders have used a small number of customers. Mercury Muse, who along with his mother runs Chez Jeanne Dog and Cat Grooming in Santa Rosa, admits he’s one of them.
âI understand we’re on the fringes, pet services, in terms of the basics,â Muse said. âIf someone came and said no, we would stop. I’ve been preparing for it since we started. It is for dogs who need it medically.
Demand is exploding. Cadogan said she had around 150 phone calls to return. Muse said Chez Jeanne could be “absolutely slammed” if allowed to open fully.
And all think they could groom pets safely, with the same sort of distancing requirements the county places on other retail establishments. In fact, an anonymous groomer, who requested anonymity because she always sees customers and worries about being flagged by competitors who aren’t, said her shop is already doing so.
âCustomers don’t come inside,â she explained. âThey are on one end of a 6 foot leash. The dogs run towards us and we grab the leash by the collar. It’s a split-second exchange. Everyone has masks. If we handle leashes, we spray them. We are careful when handing over any payment. I check in with my employees every day, I ask them, âAre you comfortable? “”
Mase is not convinced that these precautions are sufficient or that grooming animals is essential. In addition to the owner-customer interaction, both would touch the animals. At least two domestic cats in New York City and one dog in North Carolina have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
âSo it’s the same type of physical distancing requirements for animals as it is for humans, which is why dog ââparks have been a bit of a problem,â Mase said. “What the CDC is saying is that your pet should not come into contact with a stranger, someone they are not normally part of the household with.”
Mase said more research needs to be done on the transmission of the virus to and from pets. One point she has been clear on: While she continues to review the eligibility of pet groomers, she is not about to take them off the shortlist.
âRight now we’re probably looking at this after looking at the retail businesses that open for curbside pickup, after looking at some of the outdoor activities,â Mase said. âBut it’s along this continuum. Somewhere after that, we’ll be looking at things like pet grooming. “
You can contact editor Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or [email protected] On Twitter ? @Skinny_Post.