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Video: Dog ’dos: Extreme poodle grooming

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    >>> a new show on tlc called "extreme poodles" takes you inside the fast-paced, quirky and often sometimes stressful world of competitor dog grooming and show competition. creative and frantic groomers try to turn poodles into remarkable works of art . we've joined by three owners featured on the show, lori craig with justin, angela with huxley and nina here with rudolph. good morning. i have to ask right off the bat because a lot of people ask you this -- are you dogs hurt in any way or is it at all abusive to the animals? i know this is something you all are very defensive about.

    >> we are extremely defensive. there is no harm in doing this. these are our family pets. if they do not like being groomed, we could not physically do this to them. we groom dogs on a daily basis each and everyone of us. there is dogs you literally cannot do this too. these are all vegetable-based dye. they do make pet dyes for dogs. we do not use anything harmful.

    >> this is done over a couple of days or even months that they get this kind of look. right? it is not something that they're standing on a table for hours on end.

    >> right. huxley has been worked on in the past, it's taken me three days. all of his colors blend in. children's products. that's like a marker.

    >> i imagine they like the attention.

    >> they love the attention. we're getting a lot of it. now this world that we see on tlc , the extreme dog competition, what got you into this, angela?

    >> actually, my aunt used to raise poodles. we'd dye them with food coloring . i've seen the cover of a groomer magazine with this outrageous creative dog on it an instantly i was hooked.

    >> you've been in serious competitions. you've lon a lot of titles. you've won some money. but you aren't doing this for the money. right?

    >> you never break even on the money. the time into it and travel and take off work, all your props and costumes, you don't make money off of it.

    >> lori, duchess here is the queen of hearts . how long did it take you to do this whole look?

    >> it takes longer to grow out the hair. the color job was probably done maybe seven to ten hours but broken up between weeks. she gets a weekly haircut and bath anyway.

    >> i love that! now how did you get her to just sit style while you're doing all of this?

    >> they love the attention they get afterwards. they know if they sit still and when they get off that table, people are going to be all over them. they enjoy having it done because they love the attention.

    >> huxley , in case you couldn't tell, is the new york theme. you've even got the "today" show logo on the other side. rockefeller center there. the taxi cab . today show logo. i understand when you took her for a walk around central park there was a lot of people --

    >> they're not going to be the same again. they've had so much attention. it's not a walk.

    >> it's more like a parade.

    >> nina, tell us about runa's look.

    >> she's kind of like in the summer beach theme. she's got her little sunflower on her one side and little flip-flops. little water mains and an inner tube. i worked on it for about over two weeks, little bits at a time.

    >> well, it is truly remarkable. the show itself, are you having fun doing it? are the dogs having fun doing it?

    >> we're all having a blast . it is a highly competitive world.

    >> it is just like the hair shows you see for people, just for dogs. dogs love to travel.

    >> good luck to you ladies and dogs as well. "extreme poodles" airs on tlc this sunday at 9:00, 8:00 central time .

    >>> coming up, kourtney and khloe

TODAY contributor
updated 6/9/2010 11:52:26 AM ET 2010-06-09T15:52:26

Some dogs go a step beyond just being man’s best friend: They also serve as canvases on which their owners express themselves through meticulous grooming and creative — and sometimes crazy — dye jobs.

TODAY featured three primped-up, pimped out poodles Wednesday, along with owners who not only lavish them with love, but them to the point where an everyday walk in the park turns into a fashion show. Owners and dogs alike appear on the new TLC series “Extreme Poodles,” which follows the competitive groomers all the way to a live competition.

The poodles exhibited on the TODAY set were an eye-popping, electric trio. Lori Craig of Moore, Okla., showed off Duchess, done up as the Queen of Hearts. Angela Kumpe of East End, Ark., turned her dog Huxley into a veritable love letter to the city of New York — her fur was dyed with images of taxis, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty and the TODAY show logo. Nina Lehtonen of British Columbia, Canada, transformed her Runa into the belle of the beach, complete with dyed-in flip flops, water wings, inner tube and a sunflower.

‘The love the attention’
The ladies admit they’re always looking for ways to top one another. And they insist their pets enjoy getting gussied up every bit as much as they enjoy working on them.

“Extreme poodle” Huxley’s adornments included a taxicab, New York skyscraper and the TODAY logo.
“They love the attention they get afterwards, so they know if they sit still and get it done, when they get off that table, people are going to be all over them,” Craig told Natalie Morales. “They enjoy having it done because they know the attention [will come].”

The groomers note the magic doesn’t happen in one sitting — they work on the canine creations an hour or two at a time over the course of several sessions. And if you want to get a competitive dog groomer hot under the collar, tell them they’re abusing their pets.

“We are extremely defensive,” Craig told Morales. “There is no harm in doing this. These are our family pets. If they do not like being groomed, we could not physically do this.”

Kumpe told Morales she had the time of her life walking Huxley, in all her Big Apple glory, through Central Park. She said Huxley is “not going to be the same again” after all the attention she got.

Canine and human stars of “Extreme Poodles” strut their stuff on the TODAY set.
And Kumpe made it clear hers is a labor of love, not profit. She was just a young girl when she took a fancy to the poodles her aunt raised, and began experimenting by coloring them with Kool-Aid and food coloring. These days, she uses the non-toxic, vegetable-based dyes approved especially for dogs when she’s readying a poodle for competition.

Kumpe’s been on the competitive dog grooming circuit for eight years, and while prize money often reaches $5,000 for a first-place finisher, she’s not padding her wallet even when she wins.

Slideshow: Shear poodle madness! “You never break even on the money,” she said. “When you put the time into it, the travel and take off work, all the props and costumes, you don’t make any money off of it.”

All three groomers aver they’ve “had a blast” doing “Extreme Poodles,” saying it puts a human face behind groomers who often get saddled with a bad rap. Craig said viewers learn that the dogs used in show competitions aren’t mere extensions of the groomer’s artistic fancies, but are “active dogs that come from healthy families.”

“Extreme Poodles” airs Sunday, June 13, at 9 p.m. ET on TLC. It is followed by “Super Pooches,” which gives a behind-the-scenes look at raising and training show dogs, at 10 p.m.

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