- ABOUT US
Megan Rossman, Associate Editor
Photo by JOHN JERNIGAN
By Megan Rossman
September 13, 2012
There have been a lot of dogs in my life lately. Oklahoma Today is working with Tulsa photographer Shane Bevel on an upcoming story for our November/December issue, and I've been everywhere from Lexington to the Tulsa area as his assignment unfolds. I've got dogs on the brain and the miles on my odometer to prove it.
In high school, I worked at a fancy pet grooming shop for a little over a year. My official job title was dog bather. In retrospect, it was a pretty terrible job, although not as bad as my stint at Sears. I'll dodge animal teeth and scoop feces if it means I don't have to clean a dressing room or rearrange a sweater table at Quail Springs Mall.
But back to dogs. After bathing and blow drying up to forty dogs and cats, I would emerge from the back room, pulling animal hair from my eyes and nose, spitting it out of my mouth, and deafened by the industrial blow dryers. Sometimes I would get to do simple grooming—brush, coat trimming, toenail clip—and take the tip. When I wasn't attending the dogs, I'd ring up the well-to-do clients, quietly resenting their 7-Series BMWs and multimillion-dollar addresses. It didn't make them bad people that they could pay $100 for a poodle haircut while I was squeezing their dogs' anal glands for $7 an hour, but the situation inflamed my sense of socioeconomic disparity. Granted, I was a whiny, self-entitled teenager with plenty of opportunity myself.
When I wasn't washing dogs or plotting a class uprising, I played with and walked the dogs. There were all kinds, from champion Afghan hounds to scrappy mutts found on the street. I had my favorites: a Pekingese named C.G., the aforementioned Afghan hound, a spritely cairn terrier, a drooling black Newfoundland, and a spirited Persian cat named Boozer.
I came into the job as a dog lover, but as time went by, my love faded. Dogs became one animate mass of dirty fur after another, snapping at me and leaping from the drying table. In fairness, those blow dryers were as loud as airplanes, so it's no wonder the animals, with their infinitely superior sense of hearing, often were wild with fear at the sound. If you didn't already know, the grooming experience is stressful—even terrifying—for many pets. Unintentionally scaring the crap out of animals—often literally—was yet another morale killer.
I quit the job. I filled out applications for new jobs. When I listed my reason for quitting the grooming shop, I wrote, "Sick of dogs."
The statement has held true for many years. I have a couple of cats. They're laid back, they do their own thing, they groom themselves. They're awesome. But in the last few years, whenever I see a particularly cute dog or hear of some dog performing a noble undertaking, there's a flicker of the old feeling I had before I set foot in that grooming shop; a pang of joy. Working on this upcoming portfolio, I’ve been impressed over and over by their natural abilities and learning capacity. For all their barking and occasional nonsense, dogs are pretty cool.
I find myself watching Youtube videos of Pekingese for sometimes an hour, cruising shelter sites for Siberian huskies and Great Pyrenees and admiring the elegant Doberman that ambles down my street.
I’m not dogs’ number-one fan, but I think the feeling's coming back.