By META HEMENWAY-FORBES,
HUDSON, Iowa — It’s hard to see the delicate pink flower painted just above Zoey’s rump. As she greets visitors to the Paw Prints Pet Salon, the timbre of the courageous schnauzer’s lady and bum sway to the beat of her cheerful tail.
At the opposite end, Zoey’s ears end in the same pretty pink, and a lavender floral print bandana completes the set. Her red carpet look is courtesy of Kelly Schmitz, who believes hers is the first grooming company in the area to feature “spray paint tattoos” for pampered pets.
âAs far as I know, we’re the only fools enough,â she said with a laugh.
For the past few months, Paw Prints staff have been honing their design skills with regular customers.
On Wednesday, Milo, a cockapoo, returned home with a neatly groomed red mohawk and red zebra stripes on his back.
Sam has a Green Bay Packers logo on his right rear quarter. It didn’t look right with his Pittsburgh Steelers bandana at all, but the scrappy purebred lab didn’t seem to care about his temporary mixed-breed plating.
Schmitz opened Paw Prints in 2006 in Cedar Falls after 16 years as a sign language interpreter. In 2007, she moved the store to her Hudson location just off the US 63 freeway. Wanting to step up her services, she began exploring the work of award-winning creative groomer Sandra Hartness of Yucca, California. Hartness is known nationally on the grooming circuit for her elaborate and colorful designs on dogs.
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âI sent him a few emails to get me started,â Schmitz said.
The first step was to find products that were safe for pets. Schmitz and his team use Streaks and Tips non-toxic lacquer, available in 12 colors, and Ion lacquer as a base. Mohawks are made using non-toxic spray gel.
âI wanted to make sure I had safe products,â Schmitz said. “It was our # 1 priority.”
Then the experiment began.
âThe first dog we ever made was our own,â said Hannah Davis, Schmitz’s 16-year-old daughter who helps out at the store. “It was pretty funny. I was like, ‘Mom, what’s wrong with our dog?'”
The staff at Paw Prints quickly got to grips with it, using two-tone color effects and creating designs with stencils rather than drawing freehand.
âWith stencils, dogs don’t have to be patient that long,â Schmitz noted.
Although the dogs remain silent on the matter, their owners love the sassy new look of the animals.
âOn Milo, I love the mohawk,â said client Melissa Williams, who also owns Nicholas, a cocker spaniel. “(Schmitz) trained on them. Milo has come home blue a few times, and on Nick I really like the UNI logo on his back. It’s always a treat to see what they come home with. house. It lasts a few days and doesn’t stain anything. It fades. “
Customers who aren’t surprised can request any design they like.
âIf they can think of it, we can do it,â Schmitz said, noting that they paint 10 to 15 dogs per week.
Sports logos are popular, Schmitz said. She sent a number of puppies home with the logos of Iowa Hawkeye, University of Northern Iowa, and Iowa State University. And as the Super Bowl approaches, designs for Green Bay and Pittsburgh pick up again.
âI love it,â Schmitz said. “I now know what I will do forever.”