There’s one in a cage, one in the bath, two on the tables and four on the floor. Dogs, that is.

There’s one in a cage, one in the bath, two on the tables and four on the floor. Dogs, that is.
It’s just a regular day at PuppyLove Grooming in McPherson, at 534 S. Highway 81 Bypass.
The four on the floor are there because owner Jennifer Nordstrom feels they’re really too big to be stuck in cages. Since they all get along (one of them is her dog, who accompanies her to work and acts as greeter), they are allowed to mill around in the back, playing or lying down for a nap.
The largest of this mobile pack is Brodie, a first-timer and one of her more substantial clients.
“He’s about 120 pounds,” she said, eyeing the furry black Newfoundland with humor as she grooms a small, docile Lhasa-Apso mixed breed dog on the table. “He’s one of my bigger clients. My biggest ones top out at about 160 pounds, the St. Bernards and Great Pyrenees. I get a lot of those in the summer. Yes, there are some big puppies out there. But we also get the pound-and-a-half Chihuahuas and Yorkies. I love grooming all the different breeds. I love a challenge.”
Brodie’s turn at bath is cause for hilarity. Newfoundlands are water dogs, but apparently no one explained this to Brodie.
“We have a walk-in tub,” Nordstrom said, “but he didn’t walk in. He pancaked himself to the floor, all four legs sprawled out, and two of us had to haul him into the bath.”
Nordstrom’s business is a family affair. She and brother Matthew Hokett groom; her sister, Madie Laha, is a grooming assistant and bather. They typically groom 10 to 12 dogs per day, depending upon size and type of dog. Larger dogs like Brodie take longer.
“He’s been in the tub for an hour,” she said. “It looks like black snow in there.”
Brodie has long, thick hair, but Nordstrom’s bathing system injects shampoo into a vessel that mixes it with water and jet sprays it onto the dog’s coat. It gets down to the dog’s skin and has a massaging effect. A conditioning treatment is also applied.
“Baths reduce flea and tick issues, calm skin allergies and help get the undercoat out, which can have trapped water, leading to skin issues. Fungus can grow there.”
Nordstrom recommends bathing outdoor dogs once a month and indoor dogs every six to eight weeks. If the dog’s fur is thick and tends to mat, then once a month is better.
Baths at PuppyLove include a toenail trim, ear cleaning and the expression of the anal glands.
Anal gland expression must be performed to maintain the dog’s hygiene and to eliminate discomfort, evidenced by the dog’s scooting its posterior on the ground, licking or biting at the area, sitting uncomfortably, having difficulty sitting or standing or chasing its tail.
Toenails should be trimmed once a month, unless the dog is mostly on concrete, “in which case they’ll file themselves down,” Nordstrom said. Left unclipped, nails can grow so long that the dog can have trouble walking. It can be very uncomfortable, as the nails can curl back to the pad. If left too long, this condition can cause deformities.
“I’ll also trim hair around the eyes and clip the eyelashes if it’s really needed,” she said. “It’s about the health of the dog, not the grooming.”
Nordstrom plucks the hair out of ears to aerate them. This helps prevent infections.
“I trim eyelashes because they can grow so long that the dogs can’t open their eyes properly. They can dry out. And dogs that have tear stain need that area clipped short to help keep it dry.”
Dogs should also be combed regularly at home. For dogs with thick, long hair, this should be done daily. In addition to the body, fur can compact between a dog’s paw pads, collecting seeds, stickers, dirt and pebbles, making walking painful.
“Comb his hair every evening while you watch the news,” Nordstrom said. “It won’t take long if you keep after it. Ask your groomer about what type of comb to get. Without combing, your long-haired dog’s hair will mat. There’s such a thing as a mat break comb also.” The dematting comb works on heavily matted dog and cat hair, breaking the mat into more manageable sections to comb through them.
Matting is a typical problem Nordstrom sees. It becomes an issue when owners don’t maintain the dog’s fur but also don’t want the dog shaved in preference of a longer, more standard style.
“Matting can get so bad,” Nordstrom said. “You can have mats under the fur and not even realize it. It can get so close to the skin that there’s really no way to comb it out without hurting the dog. If it’s left like that, maggots can develop. There’s a point where I’ll say I just won’t comb out a dog. They have to be shaved. I never want to turn down business, but I’m more concerned about the pet’s health.”
Nordstrom says people wonder why their dog has to stay at the groomer’s most of the day.
“It takes an hour or more to groom them, and that’s after the bath and all that goes with it,” she said. “And every dog is different. If the dog is anxious or frightened, we don’t like to rush them through like cattle. We like to make the experience as pleasant as possible for them.”
Toward that end, Nordstrom says they prefer to introduce dogs to the process in what she terms “puppy sessions.”
“The first time they come in, they just look around and get used to the smells and sounds, no bath or grooming. The next time they come in, they get the bath treatment. The third time, they get groomed. By then, they have a comfort level with us.”
Nordstrom prefers repeat business, and not just because it’s good for her bottom line.
“We like to get to know the dogs. Not only will they have a calmer grooming experience, but  — you may not know this, but groomers are assessing your dog when they come in. Each time we see the dog, we’re checking for bumps, lumps, tags, bruises, attitude — we note changes in the dog. These can be related to health. If your dog suddenly doesn’t want his mouth touched, he may need his teeth cleaned and checked. These are the kinds of things we may catch that the owner, who sees the dog every day, might not notice.”
PuppyLove has a boutique of dog accessories and also offers nail painting and fur coloring, but Nordstrom wants to be clear as to the store’s mission.
“Even though I love to do a fu-fu cut, put bows in their ears, all that, I care more about the pet’s health than their haircut.”
Nordstrom can be reached at 620-241-7877, on Facebook at PuppyLove LLC, or via the Internet at www.puppyloveks.com.