Pantops Pet Salon
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Pantops Pet Salon & Spa
Charlottesville's Professional Dog Grooming

It's what we do -- it's all we do.

(434) 293-2424
Fax: (434) 293-8231
504 Pantops Center
Charlottesville, VA 22911

Archive for March, 2009

Over-accessorizing

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 by Mike Cronk

The pet industry is really hot right now. Animal Planet and Discovery Channel are full of programs about breeds, training and grooming. The Retail Industry is pushing the humanizing of our best friend and Pet Supply catalogs reflect the tastes of the “Hollywood” crowd. It’s one thing to buy a short haired dog a coat or sweater for the winter, but a name-brand dress or pajamas? How about faux suede coats, rucked satin dresses, East Side Collection Tigress dresses, Velour Royalty hoodies–the list goes on and on. And if you want to dress alike, how about an Andover Argyle hat and gloves for the owner and a matching sweater for your pet?

Sorry folks, Paris Hilton and her ilk can take a hike. I need to make a living just like anyone else, but this marketing of dogs like Barbies is crossing the line. The relationship I have with my Golden Lizzie is one I hope includes dignity and respect. Dogs, in addition to being the best companion animal, are constantly being challenged to find new and unique ways to use their sense of smell, sight, and hearing. Sniffing out illegal drugs, explosives, and tracking people has been around for years…and now we are looking into cancer detection. The bond a K-9 Police Officer has with his dog is powerful. Can you imagine him putting PJ’s on that dog at night?
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Marketing doesn’t stop with the Retail Industry….grooming is just as bad. Seen pictures of any white poodles dyed pink lately? Most of my grooming magazines are full of new and unique ways of making money, but most of it is just a gimmick to get you to spend. Now, in addition to giving a haircut, I’m supposed to offer such services as pedicures with a paw soaking bath. The dog must stand in a pan filled with a moisturizing solution for 5 minutes. After being toweled dry, each foot is individually massaged with a moisturizing creme, yada yada. These are the same paws that need to walk on the sidewalk and run through the woods in a variety of weather conditions. While we need to watch them for cracks and sores, a certain amount of toughness is necessary. This treatment can be followed with a facial, moisture wrap and therapeutic massage. And if that’s not enough, throw in an exfoliating “mud scrub.” Guess what? I’m not going there and Charlottesville doesn’t want it anyway. Maybe in New York, Chicago or San Francisco–but not here in good ol’ C’ville.

Success in grooming here comes from a sincere effort to provide the basics: a good brushing, thorough bath and proper haircut when called for. It’s not a marketing ploy or a money grab; it’s about keeping your dog’s coat and skin healthy. It’s about good work and the golden rule. We’re happy to top it off with bows or a bandana for that added sparkle but not if it makes your dog uncomfortable.

The “Poop Shoot”

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 by Mike Cronk

Fido eats something you’re unaware of and later that day develops a bad case of diarrhea–oh boy, “make my day!” If your dog has a thick coat on his hind quarters, more often than not you end up with quite a mess. For Collie, Sheltie and and Golden types we can blend some of that hair away when they are here for grooming, making it a cleaner process. While we do cut back on hair length, we only remove what is necessary….leaving as much as 2 -3 inches of coat. If your pet tends to have loose stool anyway, give this a thought. Simply say, “Poop shoot please.”

…Can He Sniff Out a Bomb?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 by Jenna

How long did it take you to teach your dog to fetch? Honestly, my Springer Spaniel never learned how! Imagine the intensive training that dogs must go through to become trusted members of not only the police force, but the military as well. As early as ancient Roman times, dogs have been used in war. They were sent to bite and claw enemy soldiers while wearing sharp collars. During World War I, dogs were used to kill rats in the trenches. The use of working dogs surged in World War II when the US Military deployed more than 10,000 dogs for use as sentries, scouts, messengers, and mine detectors.

German Shepards and Belgian Malinois make excellent military dogs due to their intelligence, loyalty, athleticism and even their aggression–it is war, after all. But even the most loyal dog requires training. A typical program starts with 120 days of lessons from basic obedience to how to sniff for various substances including firearms, ammunition, explosives and even people in hiding. Army Col. David Rolfe is the director of the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Program at Lackland Air Force base. Rolfe says the reward during this training is a ball or a rubber toy and some play time because “food works only so long. What the dog really wants you to do is play with it.” After becoming certified, the dogs must spend a month acclimating with their handlers and then must continue to be certified annually.

Dogs have a leg up on humans and machines. Staff Sgt. Andrew Mier, a military working dog trainer, explains that dogs strike fear in an aggressor in a way that humans can’t. “A dog creates a strong psychological deterrent.” The loyal heart of a dog is also a boon. It may take 50 years or more before a machine can replicate the sensitivity of a dog’s nose (a sense of smell up to 10x that of a human’s). Even then, a dog has an urge to please. Rolfe says, “a dog will go looking for something on its own where a machine won’t.”

There is no other animal that we trust in a life or death situation. But that very trust is a two-way street and I’m not sure how I feel about sending dogs into a warzone. It helps to know that the military respects their working dogs as soldiers. Work is under way for improved body armor and gas masks that can be fitted to a dog’s face. There are also pills in development that may help working dogs survive a nerve-gas attack. Temperatures can reach as high as 135 degrees in Afghanistan so cooling vests are also being made. Now there’s some clothing a dog could really use! Ray Booska, head of the company making the vests, says, “These dogs save the lives of our sons and daughters and we’re going to do everything we can to help them.”