By Liana Jacob
FEAST your eyes on the most outlandish pooches you are ever likely to spot courtesy of America’s most extreme dog grooming competitions.
From household names such as Finding Nemo and Wonder Woman to incredible robotic dogs and otherworldly aliens these incredible creatures could not look more different from their former canine-selves.
Pet photographer, Ren Netherland (56), from Clearwater, Florida, US, devoted the past 20-years to documenting the extreme dog grooming phenomenon for prizes of over £4,200 that has swept America.
“I love seeing what these groomers can do. When they start, I have no clue what the dog will be, but when they are done, it’s breath-taking,” he said.
“These groomers are so talented. Imagine trying to cut a sculpture into fur while the subject is moving. That’s more that talent, they are artists.
“Show me an artist that can paint, dye, cut, trim and scissor, while the canvas is moving and I’ll show you a dog groomer that competes in Creative Grooming.
“A regular artist couldn’t do this. These creative competition grooms can take many hours to complete. Those hours are spread over a long time period.
“The creative dogs I photograph at grooming shows have approximately two to two and a half hours to cut a design into a dog’s coat after it was coloured hours, days or a month ago.
“These groomers work on growing out the hair on these dogs for months. During that time they are trying different ideas out.”
After two years of shooting weddings, models, family portraits and an occasional pet portrait, he decided to shoot pets, finding them easier to work with.
Before leaving the navy, he worked part-time at a photography lab and shoots at the weekends. Once he left the navy in 1985, he continued with his photography but decided that pet photography was what he wanted to specialise in.
Despite so much product being used on these pets, Ren reassures that it is all safe.
“All of the dyes and colours are required to be pet safe. All of them were designed for the pet. If the groomer doesn’t win, they will adjust their design and try again at the next show,” Ren said.
“Most of the comments are of total amazement. People pack the locations of these shows to see the competitions. They sit for hours watching what these dogs being groomed just to see what they will be turned into.”