So you__re thinking something like: __What is that lady doing with an odd-looking oversized Ninja Turtle cuddly toy?_ Except that it isn__t a cuddly toy. It__s a real live poodle. Meet Cindy, also known as Leonardoodle, and her owner, Sandy Paws. The picture before you is just one of Ms Paws__ executions of __creative grooming_. We__re really not sure if it__s ethical, but here are some more jaw-dropping examples of Sandy__s canine-sprucing makeovers on Cindy.
People might claim that someone who does this sort of thing to dogs has got some answering to do. One dog-lover even wondered how she would like it if she were forced to have an all over body tattoo made up of stuff in dogs__ imaginations __ bones, say, or rubber balls. A hair-brained remark if ever there was one __ you see, Cindy has lots of guises, none of them permanent __ though you can see what the guy was getting at.
In any case, clearly the judges don__t see things the same way as the critics. Yes, folks, this is creative grooming at it__s finest; award winning creative grooming. It seems Sandy and Cindy have been scooping prizes everywhere from Burbank in the duo__s native California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, and you can__t fault the skill of Sandy__s handiwork __ or its, erm, imagination. Who would ever think of transforming a dog into a camel __ or a dragon?
Now don__t get us wrong, there are heaps of good reasons for conventional dog grooming, including the fact that it cleans the dog, improves the health of its skin and coat, and lessens the chance of skin problems. __But not when you__re using dyes in every colour of the rainbow!_ cried one observer in horror. __And just look at that thing, reduced to the status of a chicken, or a punk rocker __ I don__t know which is worse!_
In Sandy Paws__ defence, she claims to use only semi-permanent hair colour, blo-pens, coloured artists__ chalk with a smidgen of hairspray, temporary spray colour __ what else? __ oh yes, and all the __special touches_ __ add-ons such as feathers, pompoms and plastic flowers. A veritable arsenal of colourants, props and adhesives, then, though apparently nothing Sandy wouldn__t use on herself. That__s OK then.
A space dog-essey
One other point made by those who see grooming in general as an important part of dog care is that it helps to build a relationship between the dog and owner. Well, judging from the photos, Sandy is certainly enjoying the bonding sessions. But is it us, or does Cindy look as though she__s not quite so pleased to be there?
For those who are left a little queasy by the whole concept __ if not by the garish colours then by its syrupy beauty queen sheen __ the good news is that there__s a whole sub-culture out there. 25 years young and with a readership of 20,000, magazine Groomer to Groomer is a mouthpiece for all things groom-tastic. Scary? Needless to say, Sandy and Cindy have made the front cover.