'Do or Dye: Salon can turn your pup pink

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Yes, that's a pink dog.

To explain how he got here, we must explain where he's been. Eddie, a two-year-old terrier mix, was adopted as a puppy from a shelter. He was chosen by Madeline Eaton, daughter of Max and Nicole Eaton.

Nicole Eaton owns the Animal Hospital of Polaris, a full-service veterinary clinic that expanded to offer boarding and salon services since opening a new location in Lewis Center two years ago. So Eddie's been getting his fur cut and, often, colored there for most of his young life, to the delight of his young owner.

The fur-dyeing services use vegetable-oil-based colors that gradually fade and wash out altogether after about five or six washes. The colors range from green and orange to blue and purple and can be applied and styled in any way imaginable, like paint to a furry, wiggly canvas.

The process - at least from the dog's perspective - isn't too different from a routine shampoo. For his transformation to all-over pink last week, little Eddie sat still (OK, he shook like a leaf) while assistant groomer Ashley Brubaker massaged the goopy dye into his freshly cleaned and dried fur.

After letting it set for about 15 minutes, she rinsed him with warm water in the pet bath (a warning to home dye users: this stuff will stain the tub for five or so washes), toweled him off and dried his fur. He regained a bit of his manliness thanks to a dollop of doggie gel that Brubaker shaped into a mohawk.

Eddie quickly returned to his usual rambunctious self, this time looking like a bouncy piece of Dubble Bubble.

Did Eddie know he was pink? Well, since dogs perceive the color range differently than humans do, that's up for debate. But the pet owners visiting the clinic that day certainly did, and they gasped and giggled at the funny-looking pink dog through the salon's observation windows.

Eaton, the hospital's owner, gets a similar response from passersby when she lets Eddie and her four other dogs, which have been dyed multiple times, run around in the backyard.

"People think I'm a little crazy anyway, because I have five dogs," Eaton said. "But no, people think it's cute. People always come and ask about it."

Owners typically get their pet's fur dyed for a special occasion, like when Dash, a white dog, got all-over black stripes to look like a zebra, Brubaker said. Or when Sydney had red, white and blue stars applied for the Fourth of July. (The staff will soon offer more colors, including gray, to coordinate with sports teams.)

Still others are dyed routinely. And not just small dogs - the staff's done a fair share of labs and other larger dogs, plus a few cats, Assistant Practice Manager Brittani Sell added.

We're going to bet they put up a bit more of a fight than little Eddie.

The Suite Life

The spa at the Animal Hospital of Polaris also offers full grooming and custom cutting services, nail painting, toothbrushing and a hot oil treatment option that can be added on to a pet's usual shampoo and conditioning.

The hot oil massage leaves fur shiny, smooth and extra-conditioned, Sell said, and is especially beneficial for dogs with dry or itchy skin.

The animal center's adjoining boarding facility offers similarly comfy options. Doggie daycare attendees get supervised playtime that often includes take-home crafts.

Overnight guests can choose from three tiers of accommodations, including a premium package with individual rooms boasting windowed doors, murals painted on the walls and TVs tuned to a favorite station.