Ladybug Ladybug, Fly Away Home

By Dawn Omboy NCMG

As Cupcake my Pomeranian has gotten older, I found it necessary, for health reasons, to give her a shorter haircut. So I thought to myself, I may as well take advantage of the cute little ladybug that is my Cupcake and I will just cut in and color one right on her back.

I started out by giving her a short haircut, taking her full coat down with a 5f blade on her back. And began the creative groom process by drawing the outline of the ladybug on to the back of the dog.

You can do this with an airbrush if you like, or even a chalk marker or a washable non–toxic marker. That way you know where your outlines are and you can follow those lines. If you’re not comfortable with free–handing, then make a stencil first and place the stencil on the dog and airbrush around it for your outlines.

Fig 1) Once you have that done then you can use a small, comfortable pair of scissors, either curved or straight, to cut in the design.

Fig 2) It’s always a good idea to first test your colors with something temporary to see if that’s what you want to do. So first I used a bit of red temporary airbrush color for the wings of the ladybug after I had them cut in.

Fig 3) Next I used the black temporary color to put the spots on. I put way too many on and thought it looked more like watermelon on her back! It’s a good thing I used the temporary first or I would have been stuck with it.

Fig 4) It is really difficult to get a vibrant red with temporary color. On her next visit to the shop, after she had a nice bath and with all the temporary color gone, we applied a nice, rich red permanent color to the body of the ladybug and black semi–permanent for the head and to separate the wings and show the underbody of the ladybug.

Fig 5) The semi–permanent black didn’t work well on her coat, so to fix this problem, I pulled out my trusty airbrush gun to put in the black details. I use a few drops of India ink mixed into a solution of 50/50 water and alcohol that I keep on hand in a small bottle with a spritzer top. I can just grab it whenever I need a quick refill in the ink well on the airbrush gun.

The alcohol dries the ink almost instantly as it goes on the dog. Once this is dry on the dog you really don’t have to worry about color transfer with it. And the great thing is, the India ink will completely wash out of the dog’s hair, leaving only the permanent hair color that will have to grow out and then be cut away. This usually takes about two to three haircuts, depending on how fast the dog grows out.

There have been some cases where, when the coat grows out, the design disappears and then will make a reappearance when the coat is cut short again. I personally have seen this on three animals. So if this is a client– owned pet, you really should do a color spot test a couple weeks in advance, if at all possible. ✂

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