Pets can be fussy about their look too

Beau, a miniature schnauzer peeks over the tub during his bath Firday at Paw Paw Dog Grooming morning. (Staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

She jaunts across the little shop, her long hair dyed in streaks of red, white, and blue, with one tuft pulled in a spunky, ponytail on her forehead.

Owned by a professional dog groomer, this Shih Tzu, named Roxy, is incredibly stylish, for a dog. Her current look is inspired by the Fourth of July, said Sharla Beevers, the owner of Roxy and Paw Paw’s Pet Grooming.

“She is very patriotic and into holiday themes. She even wears clothes, sometimes,” said Beevers, who has been pampering her pet since she purchased her four years ago.

In the shop, Roxy is no anomaly.

Beevers and a small staff generally groom 15 dogs and cats a day. And most owners are just as picky as Beevers when it comes to their pet’s appearance.

So are the animals, Beevers said.

“We left a cocker spaniel with a goatee at the request of the owner the other day. It was so cute,” said Beevers.

“We paint toenails and put bows in hair. Even with male dogs. Owners don’t seem to care about gender,” Beevers said.

As summer nears, Beevers and company spend the bulk of their time shaving dogs and cats, especially fluffy or hairy breeds, such as great pyrenees, a breed which resembles a fuzzy polar bear, Siberian huskies, chow chows, and cocker spaniels.

“When I say shave, I don’t mean like you shave your leg or face. We always leave a thin layer of hair, about like the coat of a Lab,” said Beevers, she and her staff dressed in oversized, faded T-shirts, appropriate attire for handling wet dogs, some so large it takes two to lift them into the porcelain tub used for their baths.

Like humans, animals can be quite particular about their look, according to Beevers.

With Chows, Beevers always recommends leaving their lion-like manes intact.

“Every animal has its own personality,” Beevers said.

“If you shave all the hair off a dog, they feel humiliated. Especially Chows. They have such egos. They hang their heads, just ashamed, if you touch their manes.”

Grooming occasionally can go awry.

An unusually large dog bit one groomer on the butt.

“I was petting it and stopped, and it just bit me,” said Beth Merchant, co-owner of Paw Paw’s.

As for Beevers, she was bitten by an ornary cat. The incidence led to the adoption of a rule — all cats must be tranquilized before being shaven.

Grooming a pet isn’t necessarily a luxury. According to Portales veterinary technician, Joan Orcutt, it is a good way to avoid health problems, especially in the summer.

It mitigates overheating and parasite problems, she said. However, shaving pets entirely is not advisable, Orcutt said. A thin layer of hair protects them from being burnt by the sun, she said.

“For cleanliness and comfort, being groomed is much better,” she said.

Here’s more summer advice from the technician:

o Always keep an ample supply of water nearby your pet, whether it is inside or outside.

o Provide an area of shade for outside pets.

o Think twice before you allow a pet to ride in the back of a truck. Their padded feet are often burnt when the sun heats the metal of the truck, she said.