Makiko and I decided to go to PetSmart for her first bath since being home a little over a week ago. Never again. I had already kind of decided that after her first bath at PetSmart I would be going to a bathe-your-own-dog type of place and this just reaffirmed it. On a list I am on, GDBLounge, a few people had warned me about going to PetSmart so I took their words of caution and spoke up to the Grooming Associate about what was okay and what wasn’t okay with my guide dog , but of course they didn’t listen.
I had called ahead, given my information. Then I had to change the appointment and I gave my personal information, again. I got there and I had to give
all my information AGAIN. Minor annoyance but nothing huge. On the phone the second time I told them she is a guide dog and I really can’t be without her
that long, and they told me that was fine it would be 2 hours. Great, no problem. I tell the lady at Grooming this and she says 3-4 hours, and if I wanted 2 hours I would have to pay for Express which is another 11.00. No, thank you. And then I said that I would wait around so that Makiko didn’t have to be crated. I don’t know why but I just got a vibe that she should not be crated there. I was very vocal about this. Makiko hadn’t been crated since before I met her. The lady acknowledged this. Her manager came over when we were discussing the 3-4 hour deal and said that was fine this time to do it in 2 hours but in the future it would have to be 3-4 hours or Express. Okay, so they showed us this package that is 29.00 they said comes with ear cleaning, oxygen-infused bath, 15 minute brushing, basic to standard shampoo, blow dry, nail trim, sanitary trim, scissoring feet, shaving pads, anal gland cleaning.
So I grab a stool and I wait outside the grooming area and watch for Makiko to come out.
1 hour passes, she’s still in the back. 1.5 hours pass, she’s still in the back. I’m starting to get anxious because I just KNOW she is crated. It took everything in me not to just barge in there. 1 hour and 45 minutes later they bring her out and call me on the intercom. She looks adorable, especially with her pink PetSmart bandana. They charge me 27.99, a little cheaper than quoted, and have her done in less time than expected. Great, except apparently not really. She had wax visible in her ears that they must have brought out while cleaning but then didn’t bother to actually get it, I could tell they did no trimming whatsoever, and they kept her in the back the entire time. So when my Mom got there to pick us up, she was confused too. She decided to call after we got something to eat and they said they only do the trimming part if we ask, although they never told us that. So wait, I have to ask them to do what they told me they would do? Silly. Then Mom asked about the crating and they said they had her crated, and Mom told them that I specifically told them many times I did NOT want them crated and that is why I was waiting there. The lady said that I would have been able to see her out front if she had trimming done, but of course that goes back to the fact that they just skipped over part of the package because I didn’t “ask for it.” Mom didn’t even get a chance to bring up the ear part before the manager told me I could come in and get a refund. Well, I called back and talked to the General Operations Manager of PetSmart and he issued me a refund over the phone. I was very grateful because I did not want to go up there again. This just was overall a very negative experience. They were not as loving with the other dogs as I would have liked to see and they did not control the dogs at all when they brought them out of the back. There were also other owners who had no idea whatsoever what controlling their dog meant and found it cute to let their dog come play with my dog (in harness) which was then a difficult situation with making Makiko behave.
Makiko does look nice, has a cute bandana, and feels very clean.
So I did several things based on my experience. I got a refund, I filled out an online survey, and I called Corporate. Corporate hasn’t called me back yet but the online survey apparently worked because another manager at the PetSmart store called me back, a different one than the one that issued me a refund, and asked me to detail the experience more. I told him it all over again and he asked if there was anything he could do to make things better. I said not really but I asked him to inform the Groomers that if a customer says they have a guide dog and there are very specific guidelines they should follow those guidelines AND they should do everything on the list. Part of me thinks she didn’t do everything, or really hardly anything, because I was blind but that is just because her reaction when I told her I was blind was a little off and it just seemed she was thinking something. I may just be being pessimistic though.
I have loved PetSmart in the past for their products and their discounts. It is a generally fun store to go in. It’s unfortunate that this brings some negativity into how I feel about PetSmart but I am likely just going to go back for their products and not their grooming. I have heard that PetCo grooming does a good job and we also noticed they had a Self-Grooming area. That is what I am thinking about doing from now on.. going to one of those self-grooming areas where they have the shampoo, the bathtub and all the materials right there and you don’t have to pick up the mess. It is also considerably cheaper. The other idea that I was told about was that maybe my vet offers grooming. I am going to look into that.
-Jess (and Makiko)