My grooming challenges as a first-time Havanese owner are well documented here. Some months back I had to have Rory completely shaved
because, though I had combed her through twice daily, I did not get all the way down to the skin – so more than merely matting her, unfortunately I "felted" her like a doofus.
Except for the regularly recurring nightmares, we put that behind us and I wanted to share some of the lessons I've learned, and tools I've acquired for the ongoing challenge that is maintaining these wonderful little dogs and mine in particular.
MY LESSON 1
: I read on several Havanese websites NOT to use a slicker brush on a Havanese. I'm not sure why some feel this way, and originally I accepted this advice – but I can now say that a slicker brush is the single most effective tool that I have in removing tangles and mats.
I believe most of the resistance to slicker brushes has to do with the size of the average slicker brush as relative to our small breed. Indeed I found the garden-variety Petco slicker brush to be too large and unwieldy, unable to get effectively to the mat trouble areas such as behind the ears, the neck, the underarms, and the back of the legs.
My outlook on life improved considerably after I bought the Chris Christensen Mark I extra-small slicker brush
which has a head that measures 2.5" x 2". By comparison if you grab one randomly off the shelf at Petco the average one has a surface size about twice that of the Mark I.
REVIEW: Chris Christensen #011 NTS Staggered Tooth Buttercomb
. I would never have believed you if you were to tell me that at some point in my life I would buy a $50 comb for my dog. Welcome to Havanese ownership! What originally drew me to this staggered tooth design was it's relatively short six-inch length (Rory is just 7 pounds and small even for the breed) and its designation as a "coat saver" with the magical ability to "knock out those knots."
This thing gleams and is machined finer than many aviation components. That translates to an ability to comb through hair without the snagging that sometimes occurs with your pet store variety combs, which I also own and have as a point of reference.
Another nice thing about this particular Chris Christensen comb is its 7.7 ounce weight. By comparison my Four Paws comb weighs 2 ounces. The added weight in combination with the finely polished tines seems to reduce the friction as you comb through.
Is it magical?
Frankly no, but it does a nice job and I'm trying to give myself what ever armament I can in my never-ending battle against mats, so it's one tool of many.
REVIEW: Chris Christensen #014 Buttercomb 4 1/2" Styling Comb All Coarse
. I bought this because my dog is little and getting a standard 7 inch comb everywhere I need to was not fun for either of us. This is similarly well-made with finely polished tines but weighs only 1.1 ounce. Again there is nothing supernatural about this Chris Christensen comb but it size allows me to get it where I need to easily.
You might recall that I converted a coat closet
into a makeshift grooming station. I have since installed a shelving system that I purchased at The Container Store and have included photographs. It is called the Elfa system
and you buy the pieces individually so you can tailor it to your personal needs.
As for moi, I learn more each day and love having this sweet little pup at my side.