2015-10-23 / Community

Canine couture comes to Kennebunk

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer


Alaina Klement applies a temporary tattoo to a client at her dog care facility on High Street in Kennebunk, which has recently begun offering “creative grooming” options. (Duke Harrington photo) Alaina Klement applies a temporary tattoo to a client at her dog care facility on High Street in Kennebunk, which has recently begun offering “creative grooming” options. (Duke Harrington photo) KENNEBUNK — As Alaina Klement works her way around the stainless steel dog-grooming table, the charge perched atop it gives her a small snort.

The ears of the small white poodle are already dyed bright pink with a temporary, non-toxic dye, while a purple feather is soon to come. The dog then watches nonplussed as Klement comes around and applies a flower stencil to its rump, which she soon begins to airbrush in purple and green. If anything, the pup looks spectacularly disinterested in what’s being done to its appearance. Then, at last, it beings to whimper, but only when Klement momentarily moves away.

That’s why “creative grooming” is not only coming into vogue as a fashion statement, but as a comfort-keeper for small dogs who thrive on human contact.


Examples of the creative grooming some in the canine couture set are now sporting include the leopard spot accents given to Bella. (Courtesy photo) Examples of the creative grooming some in the canine couture set are now sporting include the leopard spot accents given to Bella. (Courtesy photo) “Honestly, your dog will never get so much attention,” Klement said with a broad smile as she put the finishing touches to the poodle’s rump. “Everybody will want to pet your dog.”

“Scooter loves all the attention he received from his adorable, colored mohawk. Alaina is an artist.” said Karissa Sharkey, of her West Highland Terrier.

Klement, owner of Pawfections Pet Salon, located at 141 High St. in Kennebunk, has been in the dog-grooming business for more than a decade. A local girl, she was drawn to the trade by her love of animals and discovered creative grooming while living briefly in South Carolina.

After returning to Maine and starting her own business three years ago, it took a while to work up the courage to introduce canine couture to the Kennebunks.

“It was really big down south, but I was afraid some people, especially the older ones, might be a little uptight with this kind of thing,” she said. “But as humans face more and more choices and creativity at their spa treatments, the grooming of dogs has advanced beyond a simple shampoo and haircut.”

Color, jewels, airbrush tattoos, and feather extensions are some of the options Klement offers.

“I have always looked at my grooming as an art form,” she said. “Now, not only do I get to enjoy my passion of working with dogs, creative grooming allows me expand my artistic abilities, and give pet owners a chance to express and pamper their pups just as they would for themselves.”

Still, Klement says she knows the service is likely to create a stir, locally, especially among residents who see a dog as a dog, and not an extension of their own personality.

“There are some people who’ve said, ‘I would never do that to my dog,’ who think I’m crazy,” Klement says, “but others come back and give their dog’s mohawk a different color every week.”

The important thing Klement wants people to know, especially those who might look askance at her work, is that all products in styling dogs are temporary, non-toxic, and “completely safe.”

“We never use anything that might be damaging to the pets’ skin and coat, or pose any risk to the safety of the animal, such as bleaching products and oxidizing dyes,” she said.

Some of the coloring options come out with a single wash — should an owner want to dress up a pup for a single holiday, or big sporting event. Other products can last for up to 6 months through multiple baths.

“The work itself, from the dog’s perspective, it’s just like a regular grooming. They don’t mind at all,” Klement said.

Klement also wants potential naysayers to know she is a member of the National Association Of Professional Creative Grooming (NAPCG), certified in temporary coloring and accessories for dogs.

According to Bullet Brown, founder and president of NAPCG, some skepticism about creative grooming, is legitimate.

“While there are still groomers out there using very dangerous products, I can honestly and confidently defend the members of the NAPCG and will spend as much time as necessary explaining exactly how these products work as well as what is, and what is not, safe for use on pets,” he said.

“Most pets thrive on human attention,” Brown said. “If a little pink or blue color brings them extra attention, then why not? They don’t care why people stare, take their photos or ask to pet them, they just know they are loved.”

“So far it’s mostly younger people, with smaller dogs, who’ve been interested in this,” Klement said, “but I can see it really catching on. Not too many people who do it around here, it’s true, but there are areas where they actually have competitions in creative grooming.”

Her favorite creation so far?

“The leopard spots are really cool,” she said.

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