We recently met a groomer from Costa Rica named Lin. While visiting our shops in Louisville, Kentucky, she marveled at the large, combination coated dogs that were standing on our grooming tables everyday. (On the day Lin visited our Lime Kiln store, there were 14 doodles on site to be groomed that day alone!)
She ran her fingers through their coats; she remarked about the differences in texture from dog to dog; she picked up combs and brushes and tested each on dogs scattered throughout the grooming shop to see how they worked. Looking at the array of dogs- from color, to size, to coat type, and finally temperament differences- from her eyes caused me to take a step back and reflect.
Was there ever a more polarizing pet in the last 50 years? As a seasoned pet professional I lived through the 101 Dalmation years as well as the great Husky explosion of the 90’s. I even remember the Lady and the Tramp boom from my childhood. But never, and I repeat never, have I experienced a phenomenon to rival the Great Doodle Decade.
Why are they polarizing? Why is this an epic thing? My opinion is simply that this was not a natural evolutionary step in dogs and therefore there was not an evolutionary system in place for dog professionals to be ready for them. Because of the unpredictable nature of producing hybrids, coats, size and temperaments are not easily predictable. Many a family promised a non-shedding 45 pound dog ended up with a shedding enthusiastic 80 pound pet. Their dream of a shaggy fun dog obliterated by the costs and demands of an unforgiving coat that would stop even the bravest Poodle aficionado in their tracks. And that’s where the need for pet professionals arises.
Groomers are playing catch up to myriad issues that accompany the doodle- fur, hair, matting, pelts, coat change, products, tools, HV drying techniques, client education, best practices for removing mats. Groomers and owners of doodles can find common ground on these issues- although communication is key to understanding everyone is on the same team.
Trainers have a mixed reaction as well- they are a family dog and come with lots of children. By design, children and dog training are naturally at odds due to the need for consistency in behaviors. Spend a few hours with a 3 year old and you will appreciate this.
The veterinarian community is racing to educate clients about the health concerns for Poodles, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and a host of other breeds which are being crossed. We occasionally meet the unfortunate furry soul who inherited his mother’s hip problem along with his father’s ear, skin, and allergy issue.
But alas, love or hate them- the Doodle has created a niche for itself in American families. Meanwhile they are employing pet professionals and tasking us to step up and learn to deal with their special issues. As professionals, we greet the challenge with a smile and welcome the scores of Doodles still to come! I, for one, am a professional groomer and welcome the onslaught of dogs headed my direction who will need to pay for my services and expertise for the lifetime of their dog. I choose to Doodle.
“Still don’t own one but I’ll cash your checks to groom yours.”