The Wild Side Of Creative Pet Grooming
There’s a fine line between love and obsessive compulsive disorder, and let’s face it – when it comes to our pets, we crossed that line long time ago.
Celebrities with their status and unlimited resources display some of the most extreme forms of this behaviour. Take Mariah Carey, for example, who spends $38,000 annually on her dog's grooming and spa treatments which include full body messages and blueberry facials (to be honest, I would do the same for my Miniature Schnauzer Fur Shizzle, if I had the funds...)
Then there's Paris Hilton, who spent $325,000 on a two story dog mansion for her beloved Chihuahua Tinkerbell. The "dog house" comes complete with chandelier, air conditioning, and a poolside lounge.
In the case of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, devotion to their dogs, Pistol and Boo, has almost landed them in the big dog house. The couple was busted by authorities for smuggling their two Yorkshire terriers into Australia on a private jet. Facing a 10-year prison sentence, the two settled with the court by making a public apology and an embarrassing PSA.
Besides all the other perks mentioned above, celebrity dogs enjoy one more luxury that not every mortal can afford – personal groomers, who've currently acquired the status of rock stars thanks to reality TV shows such as Groomer Has It, Extreme Poodle, TV Show Lauren!
The pet grooming industry has seen steady growth from $20 billion in total US sales in 1995 to over $60 billion in 2015. There’s been a lot of advancements in grooming styles as well. Sonja Lessley, a professional dog groomer who works at a grooming salon on the Upper East Side, tells Konbini:
"I’m getting more requests for Mohawks and dye jobs. Creative styles are becoming more mainstream. Part of the reason is because people see it on TV, but to get the full experience, you need to go to Intergroom."
Intergroom is the international grooming conference held annually in Somerset, New Jersey, featuring industry related products, education seminars, and wild style creative dog grooming competitions. I decided I had to go to Intergroom and see for myself the latest in radical canine coiffures.
Joey Villani is the chief coordinator and master of ceremonies at Intergroom, as well as being a celebrity groomer himself, having appeared as a judge on reality TV shows like Animal Planet's Groomer Has It.
He says the change in the American family has been one of the main factors contributing to the boom in the pet grooming industry.
"People went from having two or three kids to having one kid or maybe no kids at all, and now they’re having pets. You know how you want your kids to always look good? Well now, it’s the same with their dogs."
"The dogs are sleeping in their beds and everything, it’s like their own children. It’s more of an awareness, to keep looking good and going to the groomers, just general health reasons," he tells Konbini.
The conference offered a plethora of classes an aspiring groomer can take to hone their craft. These included You Had Me At Meow: Cat Communications with Mary Oquendo, Mixed Breed Makeovers in Easy Breezy Styles with Cheryl Purcell, and Perfect Bichon Head with Olga Zabelinskaya.
Of course, I was there for the wild cuts which turned ordinary dogs into Daliesque works of art.
Joey agrees that it's an art style. "Most groomers are artistic, that’s why they’re a little bit strange, and I can say that because I’m a groomer," he says.
"The Asian styles, of course, came over from Asia. They’re extreme tight bodies, flared out legs, it’s like bell bottom pants. They’ve been Americanised a little bit over the years where it’s more tailored and all, but for the most part it’s just style.
The style called Creative grooming started as a fun thing we started, I believe it was at the Chicago show, around 1985, and it just took off. It went from dogs that were just dyed with colour and everyone was wowed, to what you see now."
Check out these wild images of tricked-out dogs from Intergroom 2016.
By Andrew Arnett, published on 15/06/2016