As a hair stylist, Vanessa Pagan knows sometimes nothing makes a woman stand out more than changing her hair color. Pagan takes that theory and hopes her 6-year-old white Maltese, Juliet, enjoys having her fur dyed a different color as much as Pagan enjoys looking at it.
Pagan, 27, of Mullica Township, had pink coloring applied to Juliet's tail for the first time last March at Riordan's Canine Boutique and Grooming Salon in Mays Landing.
"I thought it was very cute. I thought it was beautiful. It made her stand out," said Pagan, who took Juliet back to Riordan's on Feb. 10 to have her tail painted pink and a feather extension added to her fur for Valentine's Day weekend. "I put it on Facebook. That was the top hit (on her page), her tail. Even now, I post it on Facebook, and people love it."
Just as women face more choices and opportunities in their spa treatments in recent years, the grooming of dogs has grown beyond a simple shampoo and wash.
Besides the application of feathers and a color change through paint or chalk, some southern New Jersey pet groomers are offering to do Mohawk-style fur cuts or add jewelry, bows or a penicure with nail polish to a dog if the owners want it, and more customers are interested in these creative services.
The reason why most people color dogs and do spa treatments is that the animal is like a part of the family, Pagan said.
"Both of my dogs, we have had them for six years. They were our first children for my husband and I, so you treat them like family. I did a lot of research on the color before putting it on her," said Pagan, who added her other dog, Romeo, is all brown, so adding color to him would not stand out as much.
Dr. Mary Langford of Absecon Veterinary Hospital said as some people have tattooed or pierced themselves, the creative or extreme grooming of dogs can be a way for dog owners to express their artistic nature. It is a way to personalize or individualize their pet, Langford said. As a veterinarian, Langford has no problem with fur coloring as long as the substances being used are not toxic or harmful to the animal's skin.
"Groomers are very educated people when it comes to animal skin. They are very alert to changes in the animal's skin, or if there are problems, so I can't imagine that a licensed groomer, who is familiar with skin care for pets, would do anything harmful," Langford said.
Judy Siciliano, Riordan's owner and a canine stylist, started adding creative grooming to her basic services after learning more about feathers and booty bling - crystals applied in designs in the rear area of a dog - in 2012 and more about colors last year during the annual Groom Expo in Hershey, Pa. Last year, for the annual Atlantic County 4-H Fair, Riordan did up a dog with a full-body Mohawk and green and white feathers.
"We're just doing stuff for fun, having a good time with it," said Siciliano, who added she charges $6 for feather applications and $8 for booty bling.
Lauren Cavallo, 17, of Vineland, went to Pampered Pup Luxury Pet Resort in Millville previously to get a Mohawk fur cut for her 1-year-old Maltese and Yorkshire terrier mix named Cali. Earlier this month, Cavallo stopped by Pampered Pup again to have a pink tail, purple heart, sequin neck collar and hot pink nails added to her 6-year-old dog, Mia, a Shorkie Tzu.
"We just wanted to try something different. It fit her," said Cavallo about giving Cali a Mohawk. "It looked kind of funny, but she looked cute."
Danielle Ford, the Pampered Pup owner, has three different ways of changing the color on a dog. A colored stencil lasts one or two days. A semi-permament color holds up for six weeks. A more permament coloring can stay for three months on a white dog, Ford said.
"It's non toxic. There is no pain. Most of the dogs don't know. They know they get the extra attention afterward," Ford said.
Ford has been doing most of creative grooming since the grand opening of her grooming room in October. Ford started doing feathers and facials in October and color applications in December. Ford gave her 2-year-old white Maltese, named Fluffy, the rainbow color treatment that she still has.
"For me, my dogs are an extension of my family," said Ford, 26, a Millville resident. "It's an outward expression of the love I feel for the dogs."
Beth Simons, the owner of The Pet Salon Inc. in Margate, has had the ability to do creative grooming since the 1980s. Simons has chalk, temporary and permament dyes. Simons has done Mohawk fur cuts and feather extension, and jewels she can glue onto dogs is on her list of things to pick up.
"It takes 20 minutes for a small dye job to 90 minutes," said Simons, who added she uses no bleach or sharp instruments when dyeing or decorating dogs.
Pam Sinderbrand, a Margate resident, has had her Havanese named Claude Monet for the past 11 years. The breed has long beautiful hair. Sinderbrand has taken her dog to The Pet Salon various times to have feather extensions added and also dyeing of his tail, paws and head.
"I'm more of a creative, artistic type of person. I love fashion. I love art. It individualizes them. The kids like it. My dog seems to like it," said Sinderbrand, who added her children, Hanna, 26, and Leah, 20, share photos of Claude Monet with sports colored fur on Faceboook and Instagram. "We had fun with it. I think it's becoming more popular. He attracts a lot of attention. At our apartment, there are nearby elementary school children who go absolutely crazy over him."
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