Living in Amman

From Drab to Fab…Shanti’s Got a New Groomer


Alright, I lied. Shanit doesn’t look fab, more like sad. You see, dogs, unlike cats, are not highly esteemed in these parts. Shanti, used to monthly ‘treatments’ at the groomer and getting his teeth brushed is looking like a mess. Back in Old Town Alexandria, dogs are treated better than people (i.e. there are parks specifically for dogs, dog walkers are hard to find (because they’re booked solid despite their outrageous prices), the Hotel Monaco has ‘Yappy Hour’ in the summers for dogs and their owners). We found it so difficult to even make an appointment at the groomer that we had to have a monthly standing appointment to insure that he would be seen. Here in Amman, there are few, if any groomers, and the few that exist, operate out of veterinary clinics. Shortly after Raj arrived here, he took Shanti to the groomer/veterinarian for a hair cut. Luckily for me, I missed the trauma. As the story goes, Shanti was so upset that the veterinarian/groomer said he had to give him a sedative. Really? For a hair cut? Isn’t that overkill? (I’m curious to know how a groomer could shampoo, cut, and shave a dog that’s limp from a sedative.) Needless to say, the picture of Shanti that Raj sent to me afterwards was pathetic. He looked  like a ‘plucked chicken,’ which explains the two types of dog cuts in available in Amman: shaven or trimmed (no boutique cuts). His ‘skirt’ was shaven, but nothing else, that’s why he’s sporting the dumbo, fluffy, ‘you can’t see my eyes’ look in the picture above.

As a result of the lack of grooming options in Amman, we came up with a few solutions to the dilemma. We could:

  • let Shanti go native and stop grooming him (but when we walk him through the trash lot around the corner at night, his fur is so long that he picks up all kinds of gunk that gets stuck in it. I really enjoyed having to cut gum out of his beard last week!)
  • send him back to the vet./groomer where he’ll keep getting tranquilized and will get a bad haircut (for $40 JD’s)
  • or, groom him ourselves with a grooming kit
As you may have guessed, we opted to try grooming Shanti for ourselves. Having never groomed a dog, Raj thought, “It can’t be that hard!” I ordered a clipper set from Amazon, but in the back of my mind I was recalling images of Schultz, my first Schnauzer and the haircuts he received under my father’s impatient hand. I’ll admit, the haircuts got better over time, but there were a number of the initial attempts that left the poor dog’s ears bloody.
Raj washed and dried Shanti and we set up shop in the kitchen (don’t cringe, there’s no outlet in the backyard for the clippers). It took about an hour and the finished product is below. It was much more difficult than we imagined (and we watched the informational DVD). Poor guy (Shanti, that is). He looks much better than he did, but this is no schnauzer cut. On the bright side, we’re anticipating saving SO much money doing Shanti’s grooming ourselves, money that I’ll surely be able to use on something for myself.

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Living in Amman

Shanti, the Traitor


Shanti is my miniature schnauzer. The Hindi word ‘shanti‘ means “inner peace.” Shanti is anything but calm. Call him cute, cuddly, loyal, but definitely not peaceful.  Shanti is sweet if he knows you, but if not, he will bark incessantly, growl, attack, and scare you to death. How pray tell was this beast bestowed such a lovely name?  It was a manipulation tactic used on Raj to get him to warm to the idea of getting a dog, something he vehemently opposed. I thought that by suggesting an ‘Indian’ name it might work to soften up Mr. I Don’t Want a Dog. Raj bit and the rest is history.

Prior to moving to Amman, Shanti was ALL mine: he followed me everywhere; he’d coo when I came home; he worshipped the ground I walked on. Raj left for Amman two months before I did with Shanti in tow. As much as I missed him (Shanti, that is), I was pleased with the arrangement because I didn’t want to fly alone with his cumbersome kennel and have to deal with all of the logistics by myself. Unfortunately for Raj, Shanti was kicked off their flight from JFK to Amman because the airline claimed his barking was so bad that “he wasn’t breathing.” (I’ve seen this bark and it is terrible, but he certainly wouldn’t die. He’d eventually get tired and sleep.) As a result, Raj and Shanti were holed up in a dive motel in Jamaica, NY for eighteen hours. Raj was NOT pleased, but as you can see in the photo, Shanti looks pretty relaxed, even happy (perhaps he had found his shanti?). They BOTH made it out the next night, worse for the wear, but together. Maybe this was the critical moment that Shanti switched teams. I’m not sure, but after two months of hanging out with Raj, he’s no longer my dog, but Raj’s. Nowadays, Shanti spends his time napping on the sofa, sunning himself on the back porch, and chasing feral cats out of his yard.