Going To The Dogs
Groomer Marie Hodgins turns Standard Poodle, Titan, into Ronald McDonald for the Creative Grooming class at the PUPtastic Grooming competition.
Canines of all breeds, shapes and sizes flooded into the Nisku Inn and Conference Centre this last weekend as the third annual PUPtastic Grooming Extravaganza competition challenged groomers from across Canada to strut their stuff.
In just three years this Grooming Extravaganza has become one of the largest competitions in Canada, drawing world class competitors such as Jackie Boulton, who has groomed internationally and competed on Team Canada.
In 2011 at the first event, organizers Mike and Glennis Doig who own Pupular Pet Products in Leduc, set up in a small conference room in Edmonton planning on 10-15 competitors when they were quickly overrun with twice that number. This year over one hundred groomers and more than 90 dogs took over the hotel from Saturday through Monday Sept. 14-16. The event has drawn competitors from both the east and west coasts of Canada as well as from as far away as California, which requires an extremely high degree of organization and cooperation with event sponsors and partners. "We couldn't be happier with the venue this year!" Said Mike of the Nisku Inn. "As a pet friendly hotel they have been absolutely fantastic to work with and we are looking at holding the competition here again next year."
The groomers were set up in a ballroom with grooming tables lined up in the center of the room so that spectators and judges alike could get a 360 degree of the work taking place. Three levels of competition were available; Novice, Intermediate, and Open, and each one could groom in five different categories which were Poodle, Terrier, Sporting Dogs, Pure-bred Dogs, and Potpourri (mixed breed). There were also two specialty classes held on Monday which were the Creative Grooming competition and the Rescue Rodeo competition.
In the Creative Grooming class groomers chose their own dog and they could clip and colour them in any fashion to create amazing canine works of art. One toy poodle became the embodiment of Mardi Gras and a standard Poodle was transformed into Ronald McDonald.
The Rescue Rodeo class saw groomers partner up with an unknown dog from Sundance Canine Rescue and give their best show quality wash, cut and style to a mixed breed dog that is still looking for their forever home. Half of the entry fees from this class was also donated to Sundance Canine Rescue thereby supporting a cause that is close to the heart of all dog lovers.
Far from just a competition, the PUPtastic Extravaganza also partnered up with industry specialists such as Wahl Clippers and PROfur Insurance to offer industry specific seminars. Speakers gave presentations on tools, cutting techniques for specialty coats, health and safety tips for groomers, and breed specific trimming demonstrations. The event also brings in world renown judges with this years' lineup including Colin Taylor from England and Shaunna Bernardin who judges around the world but hales from right here in Alberta.
The President of Canadian Pet Stylists, Dina Popadiuk, was also on hand to encourage new groomers to get certified and help create a recognized standard for groomers across Canada. Dina has attended all three of the PUPtastic events so far and commented that "It is unbelievable how quickly this has grown and the number of people competing here. And the calibre of work is truly amazing."
In spite of the high level of competition one local groomer definitely did herself proud this year. Jessica Malenchak from For Paws Grooming in Leduc took top honours in the Novice category of Sporting Breeds with help from a lovely black Cocker Spaniel named Irma.
Very few people other than industry insiders were aware of this event taking place but organizers say this will change for next year. "We plan on getting the word out for next years' competition," said Mike. "Now that we have a good venue that can handle all the factors of dogs, groomers, judges, and the public without undue stress to the animals we hope to see a lot more people come out and learn about the art of grooming in 2014."
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