From the time she was a little girl, Ellen Blodgett always liked to color. She still does. Except now, rather than crayons and markers she uses “blow pens,” vegetable-based dyes, and soon, she hopes, an air brush. Instead of coloring on paper, she colors dogs.
Ms. Blodgett owns Dog Gone Pretty, a dog grooming business in Edgartown. Most of her work is pretty routine, clipping, shampooing, and grooming a menagerie of canine clients that parade into her basement shop.
But every once in a while, she gets to indulge in what is known in the trade as “creative grooming.”
“I’m not an artist and I can’t draw well, but I can color my dogs,” Ms. Blodgettt said. “They’re my art work.”
Through a combination of grooming, trimming, and dying, she has created dogs that look like the children’s toy My Little Pony, a panda bear, and a dinosaur.
Holidays often provide a theme for her work. Using stencils, dyes, and even hair extensions, she has created dogs with Christmas themes including candy canes and Christmas decorations, as well as a doggie Santa Claus. One of her canine subjects sported green shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day, and another colorful eggs at Easter.
Creative grooming is a growing phenomenon. There is a professional association for creative groomers, trade magazines, and even competitions. Ms. Blodgett won a third-place ribbon at the New England Pet Grooming Professional Association contest in Rhode Island last fall.
Her own dog Millie is quite a willing subject. Ms. Blodgett said the tiny but energetic Shih Tzu-Maltese mix stands perfectly still for the extended time it takes to trim and dye her hair, but when the styling is done, she wants to go for a walk.
“She rushes for the door, she wants to show off,” Ms. Blodgett said. “They get more attention. She’s happy because she knows people are going to stop.”
Not everyone is enthralled with creative grooming. Ms. Blodgett says she occasionally encounters someone who thinks it harms the dog. She assures them she uses only products that are non-toxic. She is also careful to choose the right dog.
“If a dog doesn’t like it, I won’t do it,” Ms. Blodgett said. “If a dog hates attention, I wouldn’t do it.”
Glitter toenails, feathers, and dog earrings have become quite popular lately. The earrings sometimes cause a stir because they are so realistic that people think she pierces the dog’s ears.
“I do not pierce dogs ears,” she said. “We have little glue-ons. I don’t use anything that would hurt anybody.”