By Dawn Omboy
Several months ago, I shared with you our new little guy, Ren the Mini poodle. Destined to become a creative dog, Ren (named for Ren Netherland the photographer) was the cutest little Grinch you had ever seen. With the holidays just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to have Ren the Mini Poo—not the photographer—wearing a fluffy elf outfit made of his own hair. Of course many of us might laugh at the thought of our favorite photographer dressed as an elf, too!
To begin the jacket, start with a freshly bathed and fluff dried dog. Using your favorite clipper and blade, depending on how close you want to go, clip the area around the neck just enough so that it will make the collar of the jacket stand out. I used a #5f for this. There are a couple ways to set the pattern, but my favorite for this one is to use my shears and draw it onto the dog using his body as a guide for fitting the jacket before cutting it in.
With your shears, cut in the jacket collar by outlining it just behind the withers over the top of the shoulder and dropping it down to a point on the chest, making points there and bringing the line back up, meeting in the middle at the bottom of the throat, just about where you feel the hole. Your result will be a cute fluffy collar when you go in and shorten up the body behind the collar.
Now you need to figure just how long and even the shape you want the jacket. You should always try to pick a style that will complement your dog. On Ren, I chose to leave a fluffy white trim (Fig. 1) and shorten the rest of the coat to define the edges. His front legs were trimmed close, leaving nice bracelets, which would also remain white to match all the trimming on the coat.
For the next step, I used Avatar green dye and outlined the jacket with a small product application brush (Fig. 2), and then I filled in the color, being careful to make the application even. If you line brush it in, you should have even coverage. Avatar does not process but stains the hair, so while giving the green plenty of time to set, I used a very thin paint brush and some Apple Red Avatar to paint three thin lines around both back legs to give Ren the illusion of socks. An easy way to reach the inside of the back leg while painting is to hold one leg up while painting the one that is down (Fig. 3).
Also notice that to protect his still white tail, I had wrapped it in a soft paper towel and secured it with round hair clips to prevent color from getting on it until I was ready to put some there. After a rinse with cool (not cold) water and then dried, Ren was ready for playtime until the next morning when I decided to use two Kiss Express black dyes (98 and 99 together to get a great shade for my little elf’s shoes) and painted his back feet with the mixture, wrapping them in foil to prevent color transfer disaster, and freehand added a black line around his waist to be the belt.
With this done, I banded the hair of the jacket trim to protect it and so that I could use it as a place to secure the foil that would cover his bum with while making his tail into a peppermint stick (Fig. 4). To do this I used Kiss Truly Red and a small paint brush to apply the red dye in a swirl from the base of the tail to the tip (Fig. 5), again after waiting about 20 minutes before rinsing.
When dry, scissor jacket to a desired length. To make cute brown britches, add some Queen of Color PetChalk to the back legs between the edge of the jacket and the socks. Try different color combinations and styles to give your pet a most unusual and comfortable coat of his own to be dressed for success.