Cindy Oliver is a local dog lover, groomer and artist with a unique talent. She’s known as a creative grooming stylist, someone who enters dogs in competitions in which the winner is the dog with …
Cindy Oliver is a local dog lover, groomer and artist with a unique talent.
She’s known as a creative grooming stylist, someone who enters dogs in competitions in which the winner is the dog with the most beautifully or creatively dyed furs.
Some people put their dogs in shows because of their looks, while others have incredibly agile canines. The type of dog show that Oliver enters her dogs in, however, is one that pushes her grooming abilities to the limit, as all of her grooming designs are made entirely out of her dogs’ natural fur.
“I take a blank canvas on a white dog — normally a poodle or Bichon — and making it a masterpiece. We’re taking hair and ‘carving’ it into something completely different,” Oliver said.
Each competition has a different theme the artists adhere to, and Oliver’s 10 years of creative grooming have earned her many trophies for her efforts.
While she first started competitively designing dogs in 2009, she had dabbled with dyeing her dogs several years before.
Going to a pet fair in 2005, she saw a creatively groomed dog and was immediately interested in learning the techniques.
Creative grooming can vary, ranging from a simple colored mohawk or a colored heart dyed onto your dog, to a full-body job like the ones on her poodles for competition.
She currently has three dogs, including Sonny, a standard white poodle; Paisley, another standard white poodle; and GiGi, a teacup poodle, and she says they all are ecstatic to be creatively groomed, as they love all of the adoration they receive from impressed passersby.
She explained how people immediately gravitate to her dogs when they’re dyed, and some people have gone out of their way to get photos of her dogs, or to compliment her on them.
While the end result is beautiful, the dyes she uses are not cheap, as they are designed specifically for pets. They are nontoxic, pet safe and pet labeled. For Oliver, she prefers the brand O-Pawz. Creative groomers take a risk with each design before competition, as sometimes the prize winnings may not even equal the amount of money spent on the dyes.
“I originally started on my black standard, Sassy, and I probably did five different designs on her. Paisley is 8, and she’s had at least eight designs on her. Having several dogs lets me alternate between them,” Oliver said.
After selecting a design, the process for transforming a dog takes here approximately 30 hours overall. This includes the initial carving (trimming) and detailing.
Once a dog is designed, they remain this way all year with Oliver performing maintenance on their hair as needed. This is necessary for serious competitors, as there are -10 shows per year.
She says she always had a passion for drawing and art in general, so transitioning to this new method of grooming was simple.
“This is how I draw now. I do it on my dog,” she laughed.
Oliver went to Bradley Central High School where she played golf and earned a golf scholarship to Tennessee Tech where she graduated with a degree in animal science and agriculture.
Getting married in 2000 and starting a family, Oliver says she enjoyed grooming dogs, but didn’t want to start a career in the field unless it was in a mobile capacity. Shortly afterward in 2004, she opened her own mobile grooming salon called the Rollin’ Dog House, which just recently celebrated 15 years of operation. This allows her to make “house calls” and groom dogs right outside their houses. In total, she’s groomed dogs for 24 years.
Throughout her years in competition, Oliver has won numerous awards for her designs, which have ranged from cartoon characters to African safari animals. She placed first in at least seven different shows, and second in several others.
She describes her job as her passion, as she enjoys seeing people smile. Her dogs have not only attracted the attention of everyday people, but also of the developmentally disabled, who often cannot contain their excitement at seeing the colorful dogs.
The designs have also benefitted her dogs as well, as Oliver says that her dog Sonny, who was once very skittish, became accustomed to friendly people and being petted, and now enjoys the attention.
After her many years of competing, Oliver says she officially retired after her most recent competition.
“It’s bittersweet, because now I’ll mainly focus on educating people, teaching people how to do this at grooming shows and just focusing on my business,” Oliver said. “There’s a small 1 percent of people who think these designs are animal abuse, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are so spoiled. To have these designs on them, you know they’re well taken care of.”
Oliver also hopes to become a designer judge as a way of remaining in the competitive circle. She was recently sponsored by Andis, a grooming clipper company, and is now the Andis Creative Educator, and will perform demonstrations of the products at future events.
To keep up with Oliver’s colorful canines or to schedule a trim for your own, follow the Rollin’ Dog House on Facebook and Instagram or call 423-584-3647.
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