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Friday, July 22, 2016

Doggy Art

Poodles seem to make the best painting surfaces,
what we might call a "shaped" canvas.
Very often as I cast about in my mind for an interesting topic having to do with art, I bounce the ideas off my wife. Today, I suggested "doggy art," then explained to her that I didn't mean paintings of dogs. I'd already been there in dealing with canine art some time back. I had in mind to expose the relatively new art of painting on dogs, using canine hair dyes. Her response: "No, that's too weird." Having learned years ago to respect my wife's critical judgement, I had to agree. I dismissed the idea. Later, on a whim, I checked out the image possibilities. WOW! I'd hit the motherlode. Man, the things people do to dogs in the name of art...many of them could use a good lawyer. Using a dog in place of a canvas to "paint" on is, I guess, art. It communicates creatively. But that doesn't mean it's in good taste. Some might even say it falls under the heading of animal abuse. That's probably a stretch, so long as the owners keep their pets away from mirrors. In any case, if you haven't had a good laugh yet today, now's your chance.

Dying your dog is far less of an imposition than
forcing it into a costume.

This whole bizarre art form started with professional groomer, Jerry Schinberg, of Des Plaines, Ill. Schinberg held the first-ever “regular” dog grooming competition in 1973. He is credited with introducing the art of creative grooming in 1980. He claims to have gotten the idea from going to hairstyling shows for women. Today, dogs are transformed in various ways with the use of vegetable-based dyes, or child-friendly products, such as colored chalk. In recent years, because of the popularity of extreme dog grooming, there are even color products made specifically for dogs. Critics have long claimed that the practice of creative dog grooming is not just "tacky" but also degrades the dogs. Schinberg disagrees: “People who say that it’s demeaning and embarrassing to dogs don’t really know about dogs. They prance and carry on after they’ve been groomed. They love the applause and excitement."
If you want a pony, why not just buy one? Okay, dogs are a
little less trouble than tigers, buffalos, pandas, and camels.
At first glance they look like pandas, buffalos, and camels, but mostly they are poodles, which have been hilariously sheared and colored in the name of art. Amazingly it takes just two hours for an experienced creative groomer to carve their masterpieces of out of dog's coats, then add a few props as finishing touches. The artistic owners--almost entirely women--color their beloved dogs with powdered paint sprayed on using blow pens. The dye is not permanent. They seem to love the artistry that's involved. These are masterpieces, commissioned by "artistic owners."

Something for every doggy the French Cubist look.
Doggy art can basically be divided into about three or four categories--cuts (above), disguises, painting (below), and if you need a forth category, try "just plain weird" (bottom). Each year, art loving, pooch lovers turn their beloved pets into walking works of art at the Intergroom competition, which takes place in Somerset, New Jersey (a western suburb of New York City), as part of the world's largest international dog and cat grooming conference. Using brightly colored hair dye and clippers, these furry friends are being snipped and coiffed within an inch of their lives. I wonder if participants take their inspiration from the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City?

From Sesame Street to Disney...
Creative dog grooming is definitely a Postmodern art form, so radical artists even fifty years ago could hardly have imagined its popularity today. But then, it would have been equally hard for them to imagine the kind of primping and pampering so many pets receive. When I was growing up, I had a black Cocker Spaniel named Roberta. The only difference between then and now was that "Bobbie" was kept tied up outside and never...ever allowed in the house. Today, some of our pampered pets rarely go outside. In doing so, given some of the over-the-top grooming we find here, they'd likely be embarrassed to death.

Some of the more extreme examples of pooch painting.
There's more to grooming that hair dyes and silly
haircuts. There's also doggy pedicures. This
one must be a rather patient pup.

Cats, don't think you're immune to
all this silliness. What's it like being
the world's only dragon cat?


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