“Never a dull moment here at Violetta’s,” my mother whispered. “I can’t handle this one, Grace Ann. My head hurts. You do it. I just can’t. More than twenty years in the beauty business and this is a first.”
I nodded and let her go back to her office where she’d wait out her migraine. I didn’t mind stepping up to the plate. I’d grown up with my mother running a hair salon, a shop eponymously called “Violetta’s.” I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved with hair styling. I’d always considered Mom the final authority, the leader of our pack, but more and more she turned to me when confronted with a…situation.
This was definitely one of those times.
“Well?” Annalise Keaner shifted her weight and turned toward me, expectantly. The set of the woman’s jaw told me that she was determined. The tiny white Pomeranian under her arm wiggled with excitement.
“Let me get this straight,” I said. “You want me to dye your dog’s fur pink.”
“That’s right. I want you to make Precious a bright shade of fuchsia.” Annalise glared at me. While no one would call Annalise beautiful, she was attractive in a low key sort of way. For years she had visited our shop once every six weeks to get her roots done, so she could keep her auburn hair looking good. Now, I noticed, she’d gone all gray. I’d always enjoyed working on her, because Annalise had a great sense of humor. She tipped well, too. But that seemed like a long time ago. I hadn’t seen her in years—and I’d never seen her in such a nasty mood. Of course, I couldn’t remember ever telling her “no,” so maybe that was the problem.
“Why?” I asked. “Why are you asking us to do this?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“I’m not sure that this is a good idea. Is it even safe?”
“Check it out on the Internet.” Annalise’s voice was cold. “Go on. Google it.”
I opened the iPad I’d gotten for Christmas and did exactly that. The first article that popped up was on Cesar Milan’s blog, and the Dog Whisperer made it patently clear that dyeing a dog’s fur was a bad idea because of the risk of skin irritation. Right below the article was a rash (Ha! Ha!) of responses refuting that claim.
Further investigation showed that the biggest concern was, not surprisingly, the sort of dye used on the dog. Duh. Anyone in our industry could have told him that.
I pulled up more articles and read them quickly. As I did, Annalise set Precious on the floor. The little pooch raced over to Beauty, our salon cat. Beauty responded hissing loudly before jumping up on a bookcase, out of harm’s reach. Or so I thought.
Precious danced on her back feet and hopped up and down while trying to reach the Persian. Shoot-fire, that dog came close to getting eyeball to eyeball with the cat.
“Is she always so energetic?”
“No, she’s usually even more bouncy. She’s not been herself lately,” said Annalise.
I closed the cover on my iPad. “I would have to ask you to sign a form releasing us from any liability.”
“Sure.” Annalise pulled a dog treat from her purse and called Precious over. When the dog came, Annalise lifted her into her lap and stroked the pup’s fur lovingly.
I printed off a release that we used whenever a customer with long hair wanted to go shorter. We’d learned the hard way that change that drastic was often accompanied by a sort of “buyer’s remorse.” Even if the woman liked her new look, there was no guarantee that the man in her life would. The release wasn’t an ironclad legal document, but it did come in handy.
With a few quick strokes of the pen, I altered the form to fit our situation. Annalise signed it and made an appointment to come in two days later, after closing.
“I think Princess would be more relaxed if the shop is empty,” I said. I didn’t add that I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing.
“See you then,” said Annalise.
Over the next few days, I did more research. I discovered that dyeing your dog’s hair has become a real fad. It certainly has its detractors though. One wit suggested three simple steps:
1.) Put your dog in the car
2.) Drive to your closest animal shelter
3.) Drop off the dog along with a large donation.
I still felt uncomfortable about the task ahead, but after calling several vets, I assured myself that a mix of red and purple Kool-Aid wasn’t likely to cause the dog any lasting damage. Sure enough, as I ladled the fuchsia soup over Precious, she didn’t seem to mind. While I worked, I was polite to Annalise, but not overly chatty. I wasn’t happy with the woman’s decision. I think animals are animals, not stuffed toys.
I finished the job by blowing dry the dog’s hair. I have to admit Precious sure looked cute.
I charged Annalise for a regular dye job. I took the money reluctantly, but politeness is bred into every Southerner, so I did say, “Thank you kindly,” even though she didn’t leave me a tip.
A couple of weeks later, I was cleaning my station when Mom said, “Glory be! Grace Ann, you have to see this!”
She handed me the local newspaper. There, in brilliant color, was a photo of Princess. Seems she’d won some sort of contest for “Cutest Dog.” The prize was a thousand dollars. An article accompanied the photo.
“Precious has been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver,” Annalise had told the reporter. “It’s the result of a genetic problem. My husband has been laid off for three years now. Thanks to this prize money, I can get my dog the treatment she needs.”
I took a pair of scissors, cut out the photo, and carefully tucked it into the mirror by my work station.
“Proud of your work?” Mom asked as she noticed what I’d done.
“No, not particularly. It’s just a reminder not to be judgmental.”
“Amen,” she said.
Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of WAVE GOOD-BYE to give away. Contest open to US residents only and ends March 8. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher.
Note: Grace Ann Terhune is the “star” of the Southern Beauty Shop mystery series. Book #4 is titled Wave Good-Bye (Release date March 5/Berkley). The first book in the series is Tressed to Kill .
Meet the author
Joanna Campbell Slan is the award-winning author of twenty books and three series, including the Agatha Award nominated Kiki Lowenstein mystery series and The Jane Eyre Chronicles. She lives on a nearly deserted island with her two dogs—but she would never, ever dye one of them funky colors! Visit her at www.JoannaSlan.com or follow her at Facebook.
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