Pampering Pets to the Max

Whether in the grooming salon or at home, customers want to give their pets the same exquisite spa treatments they like to get themselves.

These can be services a groomer offers, like the “Pampered Pet Package” at Smoochie Pooch in Indiana, that is an in-between full groom package for those who want to spoil their dogs a little bit.

“We offer Blueberry facials and relaxation massages,” Scott Wasserman, a groomer at the salon, said. “We also have a bi-weekly maintenance program called Pampered Pet. It’s a bi-weekly bath, nails, ears and face, feet and sanitary trim.”

Herbal wraps, mud baths and exfoliating salt scrubs are also popular.

One such canine spa treatment is Madra Mór Muds. They are formulated by a natural and organic chemist with a background in immunology. It is a detergent-free, chemical-free product that cleanses, protects and rejuvenates pets.

Their ingredients include organic aloe vera powder, rice bran oil, borage oil, zinc, colloidal oatmeal and allantion. Specific products include: Mobility Mud to help arthritis pain, Shed Safely Mud to help dry skin and excessive shedding, Soothing Mud to treat hot spots and Flea Relief Mud.

One hot trend is for groomers to offer Reiki, which can be done in many retail environments.

“What it does is stress reduction and relaxation,” Pennie Stone, who practices in Texas, said. “It will improve health and enhance the pet’s quality of life.”

Plethora of Products

When it comes to products, there is no shortage of ways for customers to pamper their pet or for groomers to use as add-ons to a regular grooming session.

In addition to offering a full line of dog shampoos, which include Oatmeal Shampoo for dogs with itchy skin and coats and a Coconut 2-in-1 Dog Shampoo and Condition, Warren London also offers a full line of dog nail polishes, moisturizers and colognes.

Their Hydrating Butter is a leave-in conditioner that is a non-oily intense hydrating treatment for silky smooth skin and coat. The extract used is a natural humectant that moisturizes and adds vital nutrients with a soothing scent. It works especially well on dry and damaged skin, coats and paws, as it leaves a dog’s coat looking shiny and smooth.

“Wet Kiss” by Warren London is an all-natural dog cologne that was built to be long lasting while also having aromatherapeutic properties. Because of its organic nature, the product can be sprayed onto a dog as much as needed to keep the pup smelling great.

Cardinal Pet Care’s line of Viva La Dog Spa is all about pampering a pet. They have a variety of shampoos, spritzes and Moroccan oil.

Easily absorbed by hair and skin, Moroccan oil gives a smooth finish and infuses a bright shine to the hair. It reconditions dry, damaged hair and coats that may be affected by heat, wind, salt water, chlorine water, color, antibiotics or diet. It moisturizes and hydrates the hair, making it easy to detangle.

It is recommended and especially good for Bedlingtons, Coton de Tulears, Poodles, Bichons dogs with extra-long hair, like Afghans, Collies, L’Hasa Apsos and dogs with very thick coats. It is also good for coats with faded color.

Tropiclean also has a special line of spa products for pets, including their Renew Shampoo, Fresh Shampoo and Comfort Shampoo.

High-Class Pedicures

Long gone are the days of just clipping a pet’s nails. Instead, there are special nail polishes and paw treatments to ensure a pet’s paws are in tip-top shape.

Pawdicure Polish from Warren London comes in 13 colors, is water-based, odorless, non-toxic and dries in less than 40 seconds.

Pet Head offers super-fast dry, one-coat, easy-to-use dog nail polish that is free of toulene and formaldehyde. It comes in four colors: Happy Pink, Fun Purple, Cool Teal and Love Red.

Another company that offers a variety of nail paint products is Espree. Their Bark Art Nail Polish Pens comes in a variety of colors, as does their regular, quick-drying nail polish. They even have combo packs.

Also from Espree is their Paw Balm, which can be particularity useful during extreme weather. Paw Palm conditions rough elbows and burnt or cracked pads. It moisturizes dry, cracked noses, too.

Get Gorgeous

Bobbi Panter offers a full line of spa products that are salt-free, tear-free and highly concentrated, allowing for twice as many washes per bottle. It also won’t wash off topical flea remedies.

Their Snarly Dog Detangling Spray is a leave-in detangler, conditions de-mats, removes tangles and adds sheen with macadamia oil and wheat protein. And, they didn’t forget about cats when they created their products like the Gorgeous Dry Dog and Car Spray, which is a spray-on, wipe-off, no-rinse shampoo for dogs and cats that cleans and enhances skin and fur while leaving a light peach fragrance.

Some groomers, or pet spas, are offering treatments you might likely find in a human salon, like brightening treatments, such as Bio-Groom’s Super White Coat Brightening Shampoo.

A coconut oil base formula enriched with protein, Super White is a mild, high-quality shampoo specifically developed for white and light colored coats. Special whiteners and pearlescent brighteners add brilliance and sparkle to the coat.

Double-Coated Breeds: To Clip or Not to Clip

Ask a room full of groomers if they think double-coated breeds should be clipped and you will find that this is one hot topic.

Reactions range from, “Shaving a double coat is unethical, I would never do it,” to, “I try to educate the owner so they understand the risks, but if they still want the dog clipped I will do a nice, professional job of it,” and even, “I shave my own double-coated pets, they seem much cooler and happier when I do.”

So what is a groomer to do?  The controversy seems to be rooted in several facts.

Visual Appeal

A closely clipped double coat just looks bad.

“Fugly,” Regina Steiner, a groomer, said. “Ever seen a shaved German Shepherd?  Not pretty.”

No matter how nicely the groom is executed, taking off that glossy guard coat leaves the dog a whole different color in many cases, and the fuzzy clipped undercoat that remains appears dull and lifeless.  If the head and tail are not shaved the same length, they retain the normal color and sheen and can be more than tricky to blend to “match” the body coat.

Change In Coat Condition

Due to the way canine hair grows, sometimes a short clip results in limited, slow or uneven regrowth. This phenomenon, known as “post clipping alopecia,” is somewhat of an enigma, but it seems to happen more often in older dogs, dogs with underlying  heath compromises or dogs who suffer sunburn after a very short clip.

“It’s important to recognize that on double-coated breeds, the undercoat grows on a different cycle than the primary hairs,” Barbara Bird, a groomer and grooming educator, recently wrote.  “The secondary hairs are on a shorter growth cycle.  Primary hairs of Northern Breeds do not shed as often, and can take years to regrow.  Sometimes when we shave these breeds, the coat never comes back in the same, especially if shaving is done repeatedly.  Shaving can permanently change the ratio of secondary to primary hairs, resulting in a fuzzy, thicker coat that is more difficult to maintain, or a sparse, patchy coat.”

The “Insulation” Factor

Experts argue that a dog’s hair coat does more than help keep the pet warm when the weather is chilly, but that a properly maintained double coat also insulates the pet from heat. When double-coated breeds undergo normal seasonal shedding, which is triggered by longer daylight hours, they drop much of their undercoat.

If this shedding coat is properly maintained and removed by brushing, bathing and drying, what is left is a small to moderate amount of undercoat and the long, glossy guard hairs.  This longer, but reduced coat, helps to defend the pet from hot air, overexposure to the sun and even from biting insects.

Conversely, if the shedding coat does not drop out properly, the dog is left with volumes of dense, matted undercoat clogged up in the primary hairs.  This can be a nightmare for the pet, the owner and certainly for the groomer. Such a coat does not “breath,” and an overheated dog with the potential for  skin problems is often the result.

Bathing such a coat with a system designed to help remove packed undercoat, such as the Sav-Ur-Fur system, utilizes products that help smooth the hair shaft to encourage detangling and lifting away from the skin. For example, Best Shot shampoo and conditioning system, and careful use of a high-velocity dryer can help to save a badly matted double coat.

There are some cases, however, when there is little choice but to clip a neglected coat and hope for the best.  Groomers and pet owners both report that a freshly clipped dog often acts like it has a new lease on life, behaving quite peppy once  the dense coat has been removed.

There is a nice compromise solution for double-coated breeds that have been reasonably maintained.  If the pet owner is concerned about the animal being too hot, the groomer can offer to remove as much undercoat as possible, and then clip the pets sanitary area and under chest from the front legs and continuing down the underline.

Go quite close, using a 4, 5 or 7F blade.  This allows dogs to cool themselves by exposing their shorn underside to cool surfaces when they lie down.  Utilizing snap-on combs, scissors or “chunkers,” the longer hair of the chest, ruff and rear legs can be sculpted to remove much of the length, without  completely shearing the guard coat or excessively compromising the look of the dog.

This is an excellent time to educate the pet owner about proper brushing at home, the benefits of regular professional grooming, and how a well-groomed double coat not only looks wonderful, but helps protect their precious pet.

WPA Acquires Atlanta Pet Fair

The World Pet Association has acquired the Atlanta Pet Fair, the largest event in the Southeast for the professional pet stylist offering a trade show and the largest grooming competition in the world.
“It is our hope that we can continue the legacy started by Ann Stafford and produce a show to encourage the grooming industry,” Doug Poindexter, president of the World Pet Association, said.

WPA will begin producing the show in 2015, located at the Atlanta Airport Hilton.

The World Pet Association  is the oldest industry organization promoting responsible growth and development of the companion pet and related products and services.

Going All Natural

People are becoming smarter and educating themselves and are making better choices regarding their health than they have in the past. This includes eliminating product ingredients that are controversial, or considered “overly processed” in foods, shampoos, cosmetics and cleaners.

As a result, all natural products are finding a niche in the dog care industry and all natural shampoos and grooming products are becoming very popular.

Nootie is one of the many companies that make an all natural shampoo line. A family run business, Nootie specializes in all natural grooming products in scents that are sure to appeal to the consumer: Warm Sugar Cookie, Japanese Cherry Blossom and Sweet Pea and Vanilla and Cucumber Melon are just a few. Their shampoos and spritzs are made with naturally derived ingredients. Aloe and oatmeal, essential fatty acids, rosemary and jojoba oil are included to treat pet’s skin and coat and make them smell good and remain healthy as well. Nootie also makes an Argan Oil shampoo and spritz designed to keep pets coats in top condition.

Another manufacturer in the natural product marketplace is Burt’s Bees, who has a line directed at pets called Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care Products. These include a full line of specialty shampoos, including a tearless shampoo with buttermilk and a hotspot shampoo with apple cider vinegar and aloe vera. The line also includes an ear cleaner made with peppermint and witch hazel and several sprays to sooth itchy or irritated skin.

Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care Products are pH balanced for pets and contain no parabens, phtalates, petrochemicals or sulfates.

Natural Defense

Many consumers turn to natural grooming products when it comes to getting rid of, or preventing fleas.

Natural Chemistry’s DeFlea products are used by groomers and owners alike to safely and naturally kill fleas on contact, and does not contain pyrethrins or permethrins.

Their DeFlea Shampoo for Cats is a patented combination of  ingredients that work in tandem with one another to “soften” the waxy exoskeleton of fleas, ticks and mites. The company’s Natural Flea Shampoo and Spray contains natural botanical ingredients that work synergistically with one another to provide effective, natural, and safe flea protection. The natural botanical formula has been proven to provide residual killing and repelling up to 7 days.

Ark Natural’s has a line of Neem products that also naturally combat the flea issue. Their Neem “Protect” Shampoo is natural, safe and eco-friendly. Botanicals gently shampoo dirt, oil and sebum from pet’s coats. It is non-drying and low-sudsing.

Slather Up

Planet Dog created a line of grooming products that fit their company’s.

They have created a line of shampoos that include an All Natural Deodorizing Shampoo, All Natural Oatmeal and Aloe Shampoo and All Natural Healing Shampoo. All shampoos are made with a coconut shampoo base and specialized ingredients to address specific skin or coat issues.

Just like in human products, pet retailers who carry true all natural products can see their sales increase dramatically because this customer base is growing in leaps and bounds.

By educating yourself and your staff you can assist your customers in choosing the best all natural products for their pets.

Debi Hilley

Small Tools, Big Impact

Have you ever heard the expression, “It’s the little things that count?”  It can be very true of the small tools that groomers use to work their art and magic on dogs and cats.

Many groomers save their tips and pool them toward the purchase of some big, expensive tool that will help them in their daily work, and that can be a very good thing.  At the same time, however, those same groomers will keep aged brushes and combs with bent, abraded teeth around.

Worn, damaged hand tools can scrape and irritate skin and damage coats.  Once a brush or comb begins to show wear, it should be replaced.  Luckily, small hand tools like combs and brushes can often be purchased very inexpensively, and since they are mandatory for the grooming of most every pet, having a good selection on hand is important.  There are many types of these tools to choose from, designed to work on the vast array of coat types that stylists encounter during their daily work.

Groomer Favorites

“Our number one selling brush is the Miracle Coat Slicker,” Alison Franklin, owner of Groomers Mall, said. “Groomers tell me that they like the length of the teeth, and that they are bent at the perfect angle to glide through coats. They have a nice rubberized handle that is comfortable to hold, and they hold up well, even if you use them to brush out wet coats in the tub.”

An informal survey on Facebook grooming groups turned up a large number of groomers who said that their go-to favorite brushes are hands down the Les Poochs line.  Les Poochs slicker style brushes were the first on the market to feature a flexible head.

The price tag they carry is a bit higher than many of the industry standard slicker brushes, but comments like, “You would have to pry my Les Poochs Mat Zapper out of my cold dead hands,” and, “I just tried a Les Poochs brush for the first time.  My grooming life is forever changed” were posted over and over.

The flexible head on this style brush makes brushing coats far easier, and they are ergonomically designed, so are a great choice for groomers who want to preserve their wrists. The line of brushes has been hard to find of late, but they will be available again very soon, and will now be made in the U.S.

“The much anticipated re-release of the world’s top selling  original Les Pooch brush is now only weeks away,” Michel Raviol, CEO of Les Pooch, said. “We apologize for the long wait, however due to recent substandard quality issues from our German vendor we decided to move production to the United States. This transition will ensure top quality and constant supply for our global market. A huge promotional special celebrating the release of the world’s first flexible headed brush will be in effect along with new exciting additions to our brush collection.”

What to Look For

Groomers know that after a pet is well brushed, they must be combed through to insure that no tangles or loose coat remain. When choosing a comb, look for a comfortable fit for your hand.  Pay attention to the length and spacing of the teeth, as well. Combs are not a “one size fits all” tool.

Fine coats require closely spaced teeth, thick, double coats need a longer tooth and wider spacing. Check to make sure the tips are smooth, not sharp, to minimize skin irritation. The finish of a comb is important, too. A smooth finish will not only help the comb to glide through pet hair, it will be kinder to the coat, causing less damage as you work.

“The Aaronco Honeycombs are very popular,” Franklin said about their best-selling combs. “They are made in England, are of great quality, have a wonderful smooth finish and come in a huge variety of sizes.  It’s all about teeth spacing when you buy combs, and groomers can find what they want in this line. They have a square spine and they are very comfortable to hold.  Resco combs, made in the U.S., also have a loyal following, and we sell a lot of the Wahl 8 inch finishing combs.  Some groomers swear by carbon fiber combs. They have a little give to them, and they are wonderful at removing static from coats.”

Les Poochs offers a comb line, as well.

“We can’t keep our combs in stock,” Ravoli said. “They are hand crafted by the same artisans who make our shears in Japan.  This comb has glide through technology and features ultra light yet sturdy 3036 aircraft aluminum.”

It’s the little things in your grooming toolbox that you use most often.  Invest in some new combs and brushes this year and see the difference great hand tools make.

NAPPS Announces Business of the Year

Heather Branch, of Best Friends Forever Pet Services was the 2014 Business of the Year Award recipient by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

Branch  was given the award because she possesses the true entrepreneurial spirit and developed her business after yearning to spend more time with animals and feel the constant joy she felt when with her own furry family members, according to the organization.

After a lifelong career in the entertainment, radio, TV and media industry, Branch decided to enroll in the Animal Behavior College when she was looking to create a shift in her professional career. Branch earned her certifications in dog obedience training and veterinary assistantship and worked with her mentor, a local professional pet sitter who was certified through the NAPPS program. Two years after beginning her journey and her new career, Branch merged her company with her mentor’s.

“Heather has helped set the standard of quality care in the professional pet sitting industry,” Sherry L. Suhosky, president of NAPPS, said. “The success of her business demonstrates her passion and commitment to advancing the industry and providing excellent customer service.”

Best Friends Forever, located in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, has a staff of 10 animal lovers to assist with business operations.

“We pride ourselves in knowing that our clients can be confident in leaving their pets in our care without worry,” Branch said. “We have invested our hearts into an invaluable, much-needed quality service and have helped many people carry on with their workday guilt-free, or go on a much needed vacation without worry.”

Each year, NAPPS presents the Business of the Year Award to a member who has demonstrated outstanding business practices and maintained the vision of growing his/her business. A comprehensive evaluation is conducted on all members being considered for the award. Areas of focus include commitment to the profession, management philosophy, reputation of client satisfaction, and community involvement.

Included in Branch’s award package is complimentary registration to attend the NAPPS 2014 Virtual Conference, when she will be formally recognized, in addition to being acknowledged in the NAPPS publication, Professional Pet Sitter Magazine.

Keeping Them Clean In Between

While the best way to clean up a dirty pet is a full bath, in many cases it is just not feasible to do.

Sometimes, the pet is too ill, or too old to put them through a bath, or many times, a customer just doesn’t have the time, but they still want their pet to be clean and smell fresh.

Waterless and dry shampoos are the perfect answer for this customer. They are easy for owners to use in between baths, cleaning up “emergency situations” and cleaning faces and beards to keep them looking just-groomed fresh and smelling good. For elderly or ill pets this is also a safe, effective alternative to a full bath, which can be stressful for some.

With so many products to choose from, knowing how they work makes it easier for retailers to decide what to carry in their store.

There are three basic types of “bathless” products available for retailers to sell their customers: dry shampoos, waterless shampoos and foaming facial shampoos.

Dry shampoos, like Joey Villani’s Dog’s In Style three-step system, work to remove excessive oils, dirt and freshens the pet’s coat.

These product starts with a spray that emulsifies dirt and helps remove oils. Then are followed with a powder that removes any remaining dirt. The last step is the refreshing cologne to make a pet smell as good as they look.

What the customer ends up with is a clean dog, without worrying about getting the pet wet. This method is good for a fast touch up on dogs when there is no time to take them to the groomer and can be used as an allover cleanser or for spot cleaning.

Waterless shampoos have been around for years and are very popular with both owners and groomers.

John Stazko, a grooming industry icon, and shampoo manufacturer, said waterless shampoos are an invaluable item for most pet owners.

“Waterless shampoo sprays are the ultimate convenience item for pet supply retailers,” he said. “Often customers come in specifically looking for products that will conveniently relieve the pain and hassle associated with grooming and cleaning their pets in between professional grooming. They are formulated for convenient spray and wipe applications like unexpected urine and fecal messes, even blood and grass stains”

Stazko said waterless shampoos work well because, “mild cleaning surfactants are balanced with special conditioners and deodorizers so they will lift dirt and freshen the animals coat without irritating skin or building up on it’s hair. Simply spray, scrub and wipe with a towel.”

Then, there are foaming facial cleansers, which according to several retailers, sell well.

Many of these products contain optical brighteners and detanglers as well as deodorizers. They are perfect for travel, and even daily use after eating. When used regularly, foaming cleansers keep pets clean and smelling good between baths or grooming, and require no rinsing. They are safe around eyes as well.

“We have sold more of the foaming cleansers than we have shampoo of late,” C.C. Council, of Pets and Pals in Georgia, said. ”When it starts to get colder outside we see these products selling more.”

John Paul Pet offers a foaming cleanser, as does Tropiclean, Nature’s Specialties, Nootie and Show Seasons.

Waterless cleaning agents are a big hit with customers who have dogs with facial hair, like Schnauzers and Shih-Tzus, because their faces get smelly and dirty after eating and daily use of a foaming facial cleanser can assist their owners tremendously in keeping their pet clean.

For example, Showseason produces Face Time Foaming Face Wash, a non-rinsing, tearless formula that contains no bleach or peroxide and is gentle enough for touch ups or daily use. It brightens the facial area while leaving a fresh scent, and is safe for use on dogs, cats, puppies and kittens

To combat matting in between baths, TropiClean offers the Tangle Remover, a new formula with a revolutionary way to remove mats, tangles, undercoat, and loose hair from a pet’s coat.

It cuts brushing time in half, while reviving damaged coats, restoring elasticity and leaving hair with a healthy shine.

Great for travel and quick clean ups such as unexpected accidents after vet visits, Natures Specialties offers, PUP-A-LADA, a gentle foaming face and body wash that cleans and brightens coats while leaving a lasting tropical scent.

Nootie offers their Daily Spritz in a variety of fragrances that keep a dog smelling fresh and clean between baths while conditioning the skin and coat. Made with natural ingredients, it’s soap and paraben free.

There are also pre-shampoo treatments that can help make bath time a little easier. One of which is M&J Dog Essentials Pre-Bath Treatment. It is designed to remove dander, minimize odor and replenish the skin, and is part of their three-step bath system designed to pamper a pet while making their skin and coat healthier.

They also have a FreshenUp Cleansing treatment that is designed to be used before bathing and rinsed out. It can be used with or without shampoo and followed up with their FreshenUp tonic to reduce odors further.

– Debi Hilley

A Flea Free Workspace

Controlling fleas can be expensive.

Americans spend $9 billion a year trying to keep flea populations in check, according to a report from Texas A&M University’s department of entomology. 

Many grooming customers cast a suspicious eye at the places where their pets are groomed: “He must have gotten fleas here,” they say, “he doesn’t go anywhere else.” What they mean by that is their pet is not regularly exposed to other pets.

The average pet owner does not stop to consider that fleas hop on to pets from the grass in the yard, and fleas can even hitch a ride on a humans shoe or pant leg to gain access to pets which never leave the home.

Marion Whitman, the owner and stylist at Appleton Ridge Pet Care in Maine, a grooming and boarding facility, is well aware of her customers’ fears and has done many things to try and calm them.

“I explain to customers that it is highly unlikely that their pet is exposed to fleas here,” she said. “I planned carefully when I designed my building. There is a large parking area that people and pets cross to enter. That area offers no shelter for fleas, it is gravel and exposed to the sun. Once in the entryway, the floors are seamless, with no carpet or upholstered furniture to offer refuge to insects.

“Inside the grooming and boarding area is the same,” Whitman said. “I have it so that all the cages, furnishings and equipment are up off the ground. This makes it easy to vacuum and mop under everything. We vacuum and mop daily. This is not a place a flea would be comfortable setting up housekeeping.”

Mobile pet groomers have to be concerned about flea infestations, as well as those with stationary shops.

“If I see fleas, or suspect them, the dogs go right into the tub and I let a soap based shampoo sit on them for at least 5 to10 minutes,” Liz Sines, owner of Wash n’ Woo Mobile Grooming, said. “I double check with a comb to make sure all fleas are dead before the pet comes out of the bath,” Sines said. “Although I’m not a fan of using strong chemicals at all, if I’ve had fleas on a dog the last thing I do when done grooming and the dog is back in the house, is use a flea spray purchased from a local exterminator around the table, tub, floor and any cracks around the floor edges.

“After vacuuming up really well, I also spray a bit into my shop vacuum, close the windows and run. When I get to the next house I open everything up again and turn all fans on while I wipe down all the surfaces that pets will come in contact with. At the end of the day if I know I’ve seen fleas, I shut everything down and use a flea bomb in my truck. I air it out really well in the morning and wipe down surfaces again. I don’t like using such toxic stuff, but feel fleas are worth the risk.”

Cutting the Risk

Most groomers feel that prevention is key.

“I check all dogs coming into the shop, if infested I have asked that they visit the vet to be treated with Capstar [an oral tablet that kills fleas quickly, but has little residual effect] and then return for grooming,” Lorena Robinson, owner of Dandy Dogs Pet Spa in Georgia, said. “If I don’t catch the fleas when the pet comes in, but find them later, I spray the shop with Adams flea spray while I bathe the pup with citrus shampoo from Groomer’s Choice. I apply to a dry coat to smother the fleas, then rinse.”

Performing a quick examination of all pets as they are greeted takes only a moment or two and is of vital importance. Showing the customer that the clear signs of fleas are present on their pet as they enter your work place can help eliminate confusion and misunderstandings.

Consider keeping a super fine toothed flea comb and a small, bright flash light in your pocket. A few swipes over strategic areas such as the base of the tail will pick up flea “dirt,” and often live, wiggling bugs.

Some stylists are concerned about prolonged exposure to the chemicals in flea products, and as a result use a more natural approach.

“Since I and my family have auto-immune health issues, it is very important to that I use natural products and stay away from chemicals,” Patricia Curran, owner of The Dapper Dog, said. “I don’t use flea shampoos or chemical sprays. I do use Sentry Natural Defense spray as directed to kill any straggler fleas that escape the bath.”

Some groomers employ professional pest control companies to treat their premises on a regular basis.

Keith Williams, owner of William’s Pest Control in Florida knows a thing or two about bugs. His approach is simple.

“Vacuum often,” he said. “Vacuum every day.”

The simple vacuum cleaner is on the front line of defense.The area where hair falls should be vacuumed after every pet is clipped or trimmed. If there is known area where fleas are present, vacuum several times during the groom.

“Fleas like dark, tight spaces,” Williams said. “Vacuum under every cage, get all the crevices.  Discard vacuum contents immediately, outside of the building, if you know you have vacuumed up hair with fleas. Even if you don’t suspect fleas are present, discard the contents at the end of every day.”

He also recommended a product that is popular for use in restaurants. It is called Mop Up and is sold by FMC. This product utilizes a wet-able boric acid powder, and is used as a floor wash. Insects such as fleas come into contact with the boric acid even after the floors have dried, and are eliminated.

“Boric acid is a low level material, and once the solution is dried it is safe for pets to be on,” Williams said. “I don’t recommend using it in cages, but it can be very effective on floors. This is one of the safest ways to approach a flea problem.”

Groomers can outsmart fleas without breaking the bank by being alert to their presence, and using simple steps to prevent them from setting up housekeeping where you work.

Color Me Pretty

It wasn’t so long ago that putting nail polish on a Poodle seemed quite radical and unique. Oh, how times have changed.

Jerry Shinberg, founder of the All American Grooming Show, has been credited as being the “father” of creative grooming.  It all began when he asked groomers to come up with something a little different for a grooming competition. 

The first creative grooms were unusual patterns clipped and scissored into coats, but the level of creativity has grown leaps and bounds.

Current attendees at grooming shows are riveted to see stylists creating art of the living canvas of dogs, and sometimes even cats. Three dimensional sculptures made with the medium of dog hair and decorated with intense colors bring gasps of wonder from the audience. There is a high level of showmanship involved, with each groomer displaying their work with props, costumes, backdrops and sometimes music.

“It’s very important to make sure the products used on the pets are safe,” Lori Craig, multiple creative award winner, and president of the Creative Groomers Association, said. “Even if the label says it is safe, groomers should research each product themselves. Get MSDS sheets, use the internet to search out the ingredients and make sure that nothing will harm the pet. After that, the most important thing is to have fun. Don’t stress out, even if you make mistakes with your design, it will still be eye catching and your customers will love it.”

The National Association of Professional Creative Groomers offers a creative grooming certification program, with both a written and practical exam.

“The most important things to know is that there is a lot more to know than just what looks good,” Bullet Brown, president of The National Association of Professional Creative Groomers, said. “Canine skin is nowhere near the same as human skin. Products are not magic, it’s called science. Groomers need to know the anatomy of canine and feline skin, and know how products will work with the skin.  That is our biggest concern.  We went to help groomers use the products and get good results, but they need to know the science. No groom on the face of the earth is worth sacrificing a dogs safety.

“NAPCG was developed 4 years ago to educate. The grooming industry is unregulated. Human hair stylists can’t work without a specialized education. The first thing out of pet owners mouths when they see a creatively styled dog is, ‘Is this  harmful to the pet?’  The second thing is, ‘Is the dog embarrassed?’”

Color and Glitter

For stylists who want to try their hand at making the world more colorful, there are easy steps to take.

Queen of Color Dawn Omboy was an early pioneer in the creative ring. She now offers a line of products that are easy to use for novice artists. Blow Pens and brightly colored chalks are simple to apply, and wash out easily.

If adding coat color doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can still jazz things up a bit by adding feather extensions to the pets coat, or spritzing on a little glitter.

“In the month of December, every dog gets a little spray of glitter before they leave the shop,” Liz Czak, owner, Yankee Clipper Pet Grooming and Supplies, in Maine, said. “Our customers love it, we get a lot of reaction from them when their dog comes prancing out and has silver or gold glitter frosting their coat. It is a small, special touch that has a pretty big impact.”

Even painting pets nails has gotten much easier recently, like the innovative new nail pens by Warren London.  They go on neatly, dry super fast and the pens have such fine tips that very intricate designs can be applied by anyone with a steady hand and a creative spirit.

Espree offers a line called Bark Art, which is washable art for pets. It includes blow pens and stencils, nail polish pens and regular nail polish.

Making the Sell

Marketing creative grooming couldn’t be easier.  Color your own dog and bring it to work.  Before you know it customers will be asking if you can do something similar for their pet.

Craig brings her dogs to work and says that people come in the shop just to see what their latest look is.  She also invested in a digital picture frame for her front counter.

“I have it there with a selection of feathers, booty bling and bows,” she said. “I have pictures of all my creative grooms and the frame scrolls through them. Customers love to see the grooms and the frame gets a lot of attention.”

Clipping Nails Ranks at Top of Customer Requests

Get a group of groomers together and they will talk shop, and just how important nail care is to pet owners is a common thread.

Groomers say that when they ask a customer what sort of hair style is desired, the answer is almost always, “will you cut his nails?” Though this somewhat odd response makes stylists smile, because it shows that dog, and cat, claws rank high on the list of what is important to the human on the other end of the leash.

“One of the main things that customers mention is getting the nails trimmed, and they will very often ask if the nail trimming is included in the price,” Sean Dowling, owner of Sean Patrick’s Pet Spa, in Maryland, said. “We include trimming automatically with every groom, but buffing the nail may come at an additional fee. I notice that people don’t always know if the nails are in need of care, the just know they should ask us to check them and take care of them if necessary.”

Dogs, and cats, are not always fans of having their claws cared for, but having claws properly manicured is important. Overly long nails can effect how the paw contacts the ground as the pet moves, causing misaligned joints and discomfort. Dew claws, left untrimmed, can actually grown into the pets skin, creating painful sores.

“We clip and buff all dog nails at The Grooming Salon,” Nancy Pasco, a stylist there, said.

Nail buffing smoothes sharp edges that may be left after merely trimming the nail, and allows the groomer to get the nail as short as possible. Rotary grinding tools are popular with groomers. The battery operated variety is handy because not only is there no cord to deal with, but if the tool accidentally comes in contact with pet hair, the unit will normally slow or stop before serious damage is done.

Most groomers choose to use coarse sandpaper bands when working on pet nails, as they are not prone to getting as hot as some of the grinding stones do.

“To safely buff nails on long haired dogs, use panty hose or a child’s sock and push the nails through the weave to work on them,” Carol Visser, owner of Two Canines Pet Services in Maine, said. “You can hold the hair back in the stocking while holding the foot and it doesn’t get in the way.

“I recommend not getting the nails wet before buffing, they become too soft.”

She also suggests this tip, “we do nails on most big dogs in the tub for better control.”

Many dogs feel slightly less secure in the confines of the bath tub than they do on the floor or even on a grooming table, and behave a bit better for their “manicure” if it is performed there.

Getting a Trim

Most stylists have a favorite nail trimmer, and for many it is the Aussie Dog model.

“They are modeled after similar trimmers on the market, which were originally designed to cut cable,” Bob Edman, owner of Aussie Dog, said. “I have these made specifically for pets with special steel and they have a super edge on them, which can be easily sharpened.”

Using very sharp nail trimmers is important because a dull trimmer puts crushing pressure on the nail before cutting, causing the pet discomfort. The Aussie Dog trimmers are also designed with a smaller handle than found on some of the competitors trimmers.

“Most groomers are women, and these fit their hands better,” Edman said.

Beyond basic shorting of the pets nail, the trend towards decorating claws is on the rise.

Warren London nail pens were voted new product of the year and were the recipient of the prestigious Barkleigh Award in 2012.

“We offer water based polish pens that are low odor, very safe and non toxic,” Eric Bittman, president and CEO, said.  “They come in 11 colors, seven basic colors and a new neon collection of four.  Because they are in pen form with a fine tip, they are great for nail art.”

The company’s website,, shows many photos of incredibly intricate designs done on nails with these pens, and even offers a “how to” video by famed creative stylist Dawn Omboy. The polish dries in seconds, a huge bonus when dealing with wiggly pups.

There are other unique products available for paw care as well.

Pampered pets can get their toes treated with deep cleaning Paw Fizz tablets that Bittman says are, “anti microbial, fighting bacteria and fungus, and helping with yeast infections.”

After getting those paws super clean, groomers can apply Grapeseed Oil Paw Revitalizer to soothe dry, cracked pads.

Taking care of pets nails is an important part of the grooming process, and there are many excellent tools available to make this part of a stylists job easier, and even more colorful.

Reeling In the Big Sharks

Abe Geary, the founder of PetPaint, a high quality colored furspray that is specially formulated, dog safe and veterinarian approved, recently appeared on the hit ABC TV show “Shark Tank.”

Geary, who sought to change the way people celebrate occasions and holidays with their dog, spoke exclusively to Pet Age, about his appearance on the show, and his product.

Pet Age: First, tell us a little about Pet Paint, and why you started the company.

Geary: PetPaint is the world’s first temporary color spray designed for the use on dogs. “Why,” we say “Why not” the whole idea came when Billie the Giant Schnauzer my dog, and companion, wouldn’t wear dog clothes. I thought how can I make something she doesn’t know she’s wearing… “light bulb flicker.” I knew we would have a really fun novel product but I didn’t realize there is actually a demand for our high quality color sprays by groomers who have been looking for an easy to use bright color.

Pet Age: Why did you decided to go on “Shark Tank”?

Geary: This is where everybody goes who is excited about their idea and wants to let the world see them get grilled by these brilliant or bullish sharks right? Every idea
needs money and resources to make a real business, oh, and a great media bump never hurts either.

We got lucky here in that we submitted our investment package to a couple angel finance websites and one of the Shark Tank Producers contacted us.

Pet Age: What was going through your head when the Sharks were talking about your product?

Geary: When you are watching the show everything is condensed, what you don’t see is the 65 minutes the actual negotiation takes. Every one of the sharks tackle the situation differently. Depending on what they are firing at you is what is going through your head.

Some of the time it was “you guys don’t know my market like I do” and some of it was “oh yeah I should have thought of that.”

Pet Age:  Why didn’t you accept the deal?

Geary: Barbara shot a deal out there in what I thought was a way to grab up a huge amount of equity, other sharks were out so she had an advantaged position. I like Barbara and would have loved to make a deal with her but not at the expense of the majority of my company. I had to turn it down as it would not have been fair to my vision

Pet Age: What was it like to be standing there in front of “the Sharks”?

Geary: This is a little shark tank secret, you actually walk down the intimidating hallway and into the tank then you have to stand and do a stare down for at least a minute before you can start your pitch. This is where the nerves start to kick in.

The time in the tank lasts over 60 minutes and it goes a hundred miles an hour. Imagine playing verbal ping pong against five amazing players all at once and when one of the balls falls off the table your chances of success drop by 20 percent.

Pet Age: How has appearing on the show impacted your company?

Geary: I think they call it the “Shark Tank Effect” all has been great. The positive benefits started long before the show was even slated to air. Once people find out you are going to be on the show they are at least willing to hear what you have to say, so long as you are not an idiot to begin with it opens doors.

As far as right now I don’t know what the total effects will be but as soon as I go through the 5,000 emails I just received I’ll give you a synopsis.

Pet Age: What’s next for PetPaint?

Geary: PetPaint is going to be a household name and I feel it will happen pretty quickly. Our groomers who use PetPaint to add revenue to their shop have been reordering, our distributors are reordering and I feel we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to awareness.

Every time you see a colored dog just think back to when you saw that crazy guy on “Shark Tank” making dog paint.



PetPaint to Appear on “Shark Tank”

Abe Geary, the founder of PetPaint, a high quality colored furspray that is specially formulated, dog safe and veterinarian approved, will appear on the hit ABC TV show “Shark Tank” tonight, Fri. Nov. 8, at 9 p.m.

Geary, who sought to change the way people celebrate occasions and holidays with their dog, spoke exclusively to Pet Age,  about his appearance on the show, and his product.

Pet Age: First, tell us a little about Pet Paint, and why you started the company.

Geary: PetPaint is the world’s first temporary color spray designed for the use on dogs. “Why”, we say “Why not” the whole idea came when Billie the Giant Schnauzer my dog, and companion, wouldn’t wear dog clothes. I thought how can I make something she doesn’t know she’s wearing… “lightbulb flicker.”

I knew we would have a really fun novel product but I didn’t realize there is actually a demand for our high quality color sprays by groomers who have been looking for an easy to use bright color.

Pet Age: Why did you decided to go on “Shark Tank”?

Geary: This is where everybody goes who is excited about their idea and wants to let the world see them get grilled by these brilliant or bullish sharks right? Every idea needs money and resources to make a real business oh and a great media bump never hurts either.

We got lucky here in that we submitted our investment package to a couple angel finance websites and one of the Shark Tank Producers contacted us.

Pet Age:  We know you can’t tell us what happened on the show, but what should we expect to see when the episode airs on Friday?

Geary: I don’t even know what to expect to see, literally. I know what happened in the “tank” but I don’t know what will happen in the editing booth, this will be news to all of us. What I can say is there was a funny fashion show, some good banter back and forth and a pretty dramatic end.

Pet Age: What was it like to be standing there in front of “the Sharks”?

Geary: This is a little shark tank secret, you actually walk down the intimidating hallway and into the tank then you have to stand and do a stare down for at least a minute before you can start your pitch. This is where the nerves start to kick in. The time in the tank lasts over 60 minutes and it goes a hundred miles an hour.

Imagine playing verbal ping pong against five amazing players all at once and when one of the balls falls off the table your chances of success drop by 20 percent. There is no structure just drop the balls and start going for it, I’m no FGump but I think I held my own, we’ll all see Friday night.

Pet Age: Your dogs are a staple on the trade show floor, did they join you on the show?

Geary: They did, Monkey, Billie and London an English bulldog we borrowed from some friends. They did great other than the fact they had a little fight over a bone somewhere in the middle of the pitch.

Watch a preview clip from tonight’s show on TV Line, and look for another exclusive interview with Geary this weekend on Pet Age’s website, and in our December issue.




Shedding Happens

Dogs shed.

Some shed all the time, some shed seasonally, some shed so little it is hardly noticeable. But pet owners and groomers alike, know that shedding can be a major source of bother and discontent. Tumbleweeds of hair are not attractive on the carpet, and having to choose a wardrobe that matches a pet’s coat color to minimize embarrassment over being hair-frosted is severely limiting.

In recent years specialized tools and products have been developed to help reduce the impact of shedding.  The first really unique tool to arrive was the Furminator.

This innovative metal blade, anchored to a comfortable handle, was invented by groomer Angie Porter after she became frustrated trying to find a really effective tool to remove dead coat on heavy shedders.

Groomers, and pet owners alike, embraced the device and manufacturers took note.  Now many companies make a variety of tools, shampoos and conditioners designed specifically to pull dead coat out.

The Root of the Issue

Experienced stylists know that a thorough job of hair removal starts during the pet’s bath.

Individual hair shafts become heavier as they get wet, and this is the very first step in encouraging them to pull out of the follicle and away from the cling of surrounding hair. Specialized shampoos help this process along.

Natures Specialties recently introduced a new shampoo called EZ Shed.

“Using EZ Shed in combination with our standby product EZ Out makes dead hair come out like you are weeding a garden,” Ken Baker, a distributor of the product, said. “As an added bonus the combination is excellent for treating flaky, scaling skin.”

Hydrosurge markets a product called Shed Control that works well in combination with their bathing systems.

“It’s important for groomers to know that too much of a good thing can be too much,” Christine Pawlosky, national training manager for Jarden, said. “No single product is going to do all the work for you.  Groomers need to learn good technique to properly remove shedding coat while keeping the animal safe and comfortable.”

Personal Experience

Groomer Lisa Correia is not only a consultant for Show Season products, she breeds and shows German Shepherds.

Living with a breed well known for its ability to constantly drop hair, she says, “Chrome Coat is one of the products I cannot recommend highly enough.”

“It contains a new age silicone, and when used on dogs it acts like Teflon, making the hair slicker,” Correia said. “It is used as a rinse after the bath. Rinse it most of the way out, maybe leaving 10 percent in the coat. It doesn’t weigh the coat down, never causes the hair to become brittle or break, but when used with combs, Coat Kings and other favorite deshedding tools, it will make a huge difference in how much coat you can brush out.  It was designed to use on double coated dogs and wow, does it ever work.”

Using products such as these in combination with bathing systems such as  Save~Ur Fur can dramatically improve how much shedding coat is removed while saving the groomer and the pet from arduous sessions with a brush and comb.

The unique nozzle on this system was designed specifically to help lift dead coat up and off the pet.  The combination of water pressure properly directed to flow from the animals skin to the tips of the hair, and shampoos and conditioners that smooth the hair shafts, make it so that much of the deshedding process can be accomplished during the bath.

Once the pet is clean and the bulk of the old, dirty, dead coat is swirling around the drain, the use of a high velocity dryer will continue the process of lifting shedding coat out. Used properly, air flow alone will push dead hair away from live, healthy coat, reducing brushing time dramatically.

As the hair dries, it is possible to see clumps and webs of tangled, dead hair lift and slide along the growing hairs until they finally they break free from the pet and blow into the air.  Using the power of water in the bath and air in the drying process reduce brushing time dramatically.

When it is time to brush, tools such as the Les Pooches slicker brushes, Coat Kings, rakes such as the Aaronco V Rake and shedless tools can be put to work to remove any remaining shedding coat.  Good technique is key in order to avoid irritating the pets skin while eliminating as much of the loose coat as possible.

Experienced groomers remind pet owners that they may see a slight increase in shedding coat for a few days following a good deshedding treatment, but that after that they should enjoy a long period of reduced hair loss.

Pet owners can purchase tools designed for home use to keep up with shedding coats between visits with their professional stylist.

Conair  has a system designed for pet owners called Shed-it. It includes four attachments, including a grooming blade that removes undercoat in shedding dogs. They even have an instructional video for pet owners to learn from on their web site.

Shedding hair can be an annoying problem for pet owners, but modern tools and techniques are very successful in lessening problem of tumbleweeds on the carpet.

Preventing Common Grooming Accidents

It’s time to take a bite out of a largely preventable professional industry problem.

“I recently attended a trade show where an owner of a grooming school suffered a dog bite to her face that required 52 stitches,” Chuck Simons, inventor of Groomers Helper, the world’s most used pet safety and positioning system, said. “Accident? Yes. Unpredictable? Yes. Preventable? Absolutely.”

Simons and his wife, Beth, own and operate The Pet Salon in Margate, N.J., and he has been studying groomer safety for over 30 years. He has extensive knowledge about the challenges that working with moving animals and sharp instruments entails.

“I believe that safety in the grooming shop starts with the proper handling of client’s pets,” he said. “How many experienced groomers have been bitten by dogs that they thought were not biters?  Dogs that had been groomed in their shops since puppies, pets that they felt were not capable of aggressive behavior, animals that they felt they had created a bond with?

“Therein lies the first rule of grooming safely.  The pet should always be hooked up to a pet safety and positioning system.  This was the impetus behind inventing the Groomers Helper, the pet safety belt of the grooming industry.”

The Groomers Helper is a tool that inspires groomers to tell Simons, “I cannot groom without it.”

So How Does It Work?

“To maximize the safest grooming experience, every dog should be restricted to their smallest footprint,” he explained. “By using a pet safety and positioning system, you prevent getting bitten by the dog you least expect to bite you when you least expect it to happen. Just like auto accidents, most of them you just don’t see coming.”

Securing the Pet

Keeping pets safely restrained not only prevents bites to groomers, but keeps the pet secure while they are on the grooming table by minimizing falling accidents as well as restricting unpredictable movements, which can cause pets to be injured by grooming tools.

The tool does more than keep animals and humans safe; it allows groomers to increase their productivity.

“The Groomers Helper is not just for bad dogs,” Simons said. “Groomers can groom two to three more good dogs per day just by using this system.”

The time saved when pets are prevented from sitting, spinning, wiggling and dropping their heads really adds up.

“I find the tool can be absolutely invaluable,” Mary Oquendo, one of 11 certified master Pet Tech instructors worldwide, said. “There are dogs I cannot groom without it.”

Simons has strong feelings about protecting pet stylists from injury. He travels to grooming industry trade shows across the world, and has befriended thousands of groomers in his work as an industry educator.

He wants to keep those friends safe as they go about their daily work.

“A recent study showed that an average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, approximately 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospital stay,” he said. “And to make matters worse, a bite can cause a groomer to miss weeks of work or even prevent them from continuing in their profession.”

Bob Thompson, principal, Governor Insurance Agency, Inc. is an expert when it comes to insuring pet related businesses.  He shares Simons’ concern for groomers.

“Every claim of injury to a groomer or pet that has come across my desk could have been prevented by using a Groomers Helper,” Thompson said.

According to Simons, 35,000 Groomers Helpers have been sold, and both Petco and PetSmart have installed the system on every grooming table in every salon across the country.

“Over 100 million grooms have been performed without a report of injury to pet or groomer using my system,” he said.

Simons believes that using the Groomers Helper allows even novice stylists to feel more confident.

From Drenched to Dry

When grooming most  dogs and cats, a good bath is a must.

Water, shampoo and conditioner work together to remove dirt and debris from the animal’s skin and coat, and leave their hair clean, shiny and ready for styling.  As beneficial as a good scrub in the tub is, adding water to pet hair has its drawbacks.

Hair can absorb approximately 30 percent of its own weight of water, and damaged hair may soak up even more. Then it is the groomer’s job to move all that water out of the coat, a job that many groomers dread.

“Because of the noise and the time it takes to dry dogs, this can be the most tedious part of our job,” Cheryl Russell-Miller, master pet stylist and owner of the Grooming Gallery, Mooresville, Ind., said. “For those same reasons, it is often the pets’ least favorite part of grooming, too.”

New and innovative products and techniques are constantly being developed to make drying pets a faster and more efficient process.

“I would say that groomers need to keep an open mind for new or different approaches to drying,” Barbara Bird, a grooming educator in Arizona, said. “Too often we get set in stone with one method that we consider to be ‘the only right way.’ This prevents us from evolving as the equipment and techniques grow and evolve.”

Liquid Tools

Adding conditioner to the coat during the bathing process helps attract extra moisture to each hair shaft. This is good for many types of pet hair, but it adds to drying time.

The heavier and more effective the conditioning treatment, more the time groomers will spend at the drying table.

Chris Christen products offer a non-moisturizing rinse that may be used in place of a conditioner.  After U Bathe may be used in place of a conditioner when you want to add manageability without altering the coat texture. While it is not designed to detangle matted coats, this product can be very beneficial on coats that are in good condition.

Show Season Animal Products offers both a shampoo and after bath spray that are designed to assist in getting from wet to dry fast. Speed Dry Shampoo and Speed Dry Spray both contain a proprietary ingredient that drastically cuts drying time. It works by reducing the surface tension of the water on the hair shaft, allowing water to sheet off the hair cuticles more effectively.

The products may be used together or separately, according to Sandy Gyorgyi, owner of Show Seasons. Speed Dry shampoo may also be used as an additive to other brands of shampoo to help reduce drying time.

Many groomers will not be without their Davis Quick Dry spray.

“I have groomers call me near tears because they were out of the product and couldn’t get more fast enough,” Sheila Louie said.

Quick Dry spray works by altering the water tension so that the mechanical process of drying with air and/or heat more rapidly slides it off the hair shaft. Just spray the product on a damp dog, wait a few moments and then begin to dry. Many groomers say that this product cuts their drying time in half.

MDC Romani offers an alternative to terry cloth towels. Moisture Magnets work like a sponge to pull moisture from pets’ coats. Stop to wring water out of the towel and then reuse over and over.

Even large, double coated dogs can be towel dried with just one Moisture Magnet. These towel alternatives can be machine washed and dried on low heat. They not only save time in the tub, but reduce laundry costs.

A new and unusual drying product has been on the market since early in 2011.

The Soggy Doggy Doormat was created by Joanna Rein when she became frustrated about muddy paw prints left by her dog, Buddy. The “noodley” microfiber rug is not only highly absorbent and odor resistant, but also super soft.

Creative groomers have found the mats make an unsurpassed crate rug, absorbing vast quantities of water from even the hairiest pets. The added bonus is that pets also have a comfortable place to rest.

The product was so successful that Rein created Super Shammy towels and other products to absorb pet-induced wetness.

Groomer Rachel Conner uses the Super Shammy as she grooms door to door.

“I love how wonderfully absorbent the Shammy is; it truly reduces my drying time, and the Shammy itself dries fast between customer visits,” Conner, owner of Grooming Goddess House Call Pet Grooming in Massachusetts, said.

If you find the drying process to be a tedious part of your work, these products may help.


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