Pet groomer Mari Dancause, 24, of Centreville won the Best of Show Award with a Pomeranian named Snickers who she turned into a clown in the National Groom Expo held in Hershey, PA.
Dancause dyed Snickers' fur red, blue, and green, with polka dots and shaved stripes into his coat.
"Snickers was going to have a red nose, but the glue didn't stick," said Dancause.
THE SHOW was held on Sept. 12 in Hershey, PA, and the category was the Level 2 Creative Styling category, which gives groomers the opportunity to be creative by making dogs into different objects.
"In the past years the dogs have been made into basketballs, bumble bees, and flowers," said Dancause.
Each participant is given two and a half hours on stage to create something truly unique. The groomers can cut and color the animals' fur, as well as stick accessories on with Elmer's glue. All chemicals used on the animals are tested to ensure safety.
Dancause has been working for Featherle Pet Care, 13881-A Metrotech Drive, Chantilly, for six years and has been competing in grooming competitions since 1999. "Mari is a top groomer and a top producer. She really makes us all proud," said owner Linda Law. Since her start in grooming, there are only three competitions in which she didn't place. Snickers has helped Dancause win four first-place prizes and has never placed lower than second.
"Snickers is a great animal to work with and he loves the attention he gets," said Dancause.
Featherle Pet Care, owned by Linda Law, has three locations in the area. The two in Sterling and Chantilly are grooming parlors, and one in Dumfries is a grooming school.
The school teaches groomers how to handle animals, as well as how to properly bathe and cut each animal's coat. Before moving to the Sully Place shop, Dancause worked for four years as a teacher at the grooming school. "She is an excellent teacher," said Law.
Dancause hopes to someday be on the Groom Team, a team of the best groomers in the U.S. The Groom Team members compete in competitions around the world. "Although I still have a lot to learn, my goal is to someday be considered one of the best," said Dancause, "I love my work and I have so much fun competing." Ms. Law said that she really enjoys working with Mari and hopes that Mari will stay with them for another 10 years.
THE GROOM EXPO takes place over a three-day period and includes competitions and shows for dogs of all shapes and sizes. In the Creative Styling category, there were eight competitors from all over the United States. The level I, beginners, and level III, advanced, categories only had one competitor a piece, Dancause competed against a total of five other groomers. Out of the eight dogs in the creative styling category, Snickers was the only non-poodle. "The Expo is always very exciting. When Mari comes back with a trophy it is like a football team coming home after a win," said Law. "Our clients are very supportive and always cheer her on."