How My DIY Project Turned into ‘Help Me, Please!’

Some activities are best left to the pros — plumbing and dog grooming, for example

When running a home, there are some projects you should never take on yourself. This means, essentially, skip the tears and call a professional right out of the gate.

“DIY” can turn into “SOS” all too quickly — followed by “RIP” for the project you so boldly began, when visions of admiring applause from friends and family danced in your head.

I like to try to do most home projects myself. This is in my DNA — my mom likes to tackle projects herself as well. When I was a kid, as soon as my father would leave for a business trip my mother would get out her tools (kept in a Maxwell House coffee can, which gives you an idea of how many tools we used) — and promptly get to work.

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During one of my dad’s trips, Mom and her friend took out a big chunk of our kitchen wall in an effort to create a pass-through into the den. They used steak knives to trace where they thought the opening should be.

This was after my mom couldn’t locate the measuring tape in our disaster of a basement.

Do you agree that protesting is acceptable, but rioting is not?

Soon, they started running into wires. They were sweaty and tired; our little handsaw didn’t have “teeth” so much as it had gums.

[lz_bulleted_list title=”Do Not Attempt This at Home” source=””]Electrical work|Plumbing work|Tree cutting|Roofing|Removing walls[/lz_bulleted_list]

“What are these?” my mom said, grabbing a handful of dangerous looking cords.

Her friend simply said, “Uh oh, Jean. Those are electrical wires.”

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“No, they can’t be,” my mother said, shaking her head. “The electricity is up in the ceiling!”

She pointed to the hanging wicker lamp over our kitchen table. (Wicker was in. It was the ‘70s.)

Someone then caved and called a professional to finish the job. Meanwhile my mother and her friend passed the time by peeling away wallpaper from the remaining walls — diving in to yet another project.

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Carrying on the proud tradition, I recently opted to groom our little 10-year-old rescue poodle named Baby myself instead of calling the groomer. I was going to single-handedly turn what looked like a small gray sheepdog into a regal, show-ready poodle.

I found the electric clippers. I had purchased them during a phase last year where I decided to “go off the grid.” I was going do to everything myself. I was going to start a garden (my seed packets still in the junk drawer), make my own placemats (the burlap squares I cut out scratched our elbows, so those have disappeared), and do all pet care myself — including bathing, brushing, nail clipping. Why did I need a bunch of pricey professionals to do this for me?

Piece of cake.

I plugged in the electric clippers. But I couldn’t find an extension cord, so I had to sit on the floor near the outlet, halfway under an end table in our den.

“Come here, Baby!” I said brightly, hiding the clippers behind my back.

This wasn’t Baby’s first rodeo. She had seen me crumpled up under the end table before. In her dog brain somewhere, she knew that position never led to anything good.

But Baby is compliant by nature, so she eventually came to me, shaggy tail low.

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I placed her on the newspapers I had laid on the floor. Wow. She was really overgrown.

I began clipping, every few minutes consulting a poodle picture I had pulled up on my cell phone. Was that a natural hump on her shoulder, or had I not gotten to her shoulder yet? It was dark under the table, and I was getting sweaty. So was Baby.

I mistakenly buzzed off the topknot on her head, so plans changed. We were going to do more of a cocker spaniel look. The I buzzed one of her ears too close; she looked like Yoda on one side. Then the clippers started slowing down, the buzzing sound sadly fading.

“What the . . . ?” I muttered, checking the outlet. Baby looked hopeful.

She was only halfway done. On one side she looked like a gray shag bathmat. On the other she looked like Picasso’s nightmare. Clipper tracks ran all over her little body, and her front leg looked shriveled (I had clipped that one) while the back leg was still chunky. One ear hung low while the other had almost entirely disappeared.

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The clippers gave a final weak buzz — and died.

Baby had to endure the embarrassment of walking down our neighborhood streets looking like this until I could get her to the groomer’s.

Human laughter hurts a dog’s feelings. It really does.

Moral of my little story, sad and brave as it is. Save your mental health, your energy, and your pride. There are some things professionals do better. Really! This is money well spent.

Just ask Baby.

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