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Owner Defends Dyeing Poodle In Vibrant Colors, Faces Online Criticism

Dog owner defends dyeing poodle to match accessories, faces backlash
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A dog owner has defended dyeing her poodle purple, pink, and blue to match her accessories after trolls labeled her cruel.

Angela Schoonover, 42, adopted her one-year-old pooch, Zoe, in May 2022. She originally planned to sign her up for a grooming competition where groomers give their dogs a makeover and the best-looking ones win. But she wanted Zoe to have an “unconventional, playful look” and decided to dye her white fur different colors instead.

Despite spending over $500 (£400) a year on vegan, pet-safe dye – and dedicating at least three hours a week to grooming Zoe – strangers have told the owner it “isn’t fair” to change the pup’s appearance when she isn’t able to have her own say. 

Angela, owner of Muse Dog Spa in Carlsbad, California, said: “Zoe is a very happy, loving dog. But when videos of her go viral, they seem to get a lot of hate.

“People say it isn’t fair to do ‘that’ to a dog— that she doesn’t have a choice and I don’t know for certain whether she likes it or not. But when people actually meet her in person, they can see exactly how she embodies her look.

“It’s like I can read her mind – she just wants to be a colorful, magical unicorn.”

Angela, from San Diego, uses dye created by pet-safe brand Opawz – and says it’s “more or less like dyeing fur with blueberry juice.”

She makes sure the dye she uses is gentle on Zoe’s fur and 100 percent vegan, despite strangers assuming she uses human-grade hair dye.

“I think it’s important to stress that – it’s incredibly gentle, and it just feels like a constant massage for Zoe.”

While the dog groomer initially adopted Zoe to compete in grooming competitions, she didn’t think the “standard” look would suit her personality.

She said: “I wanted to compete – but now I probably won’t. In the grooming world, you’re only doing standard cuts like a German trim – which is the classic, puffy-haired poodle look. I’ve gone through this internal battle of wanting to be respected as a groomer, but also wanting to be playful and doing more creative cuts.”

“Zoe’s current haircut is called a Disney cut – which isn’t currently recognized as an American Kennel Club (AKC) standard style.”

Angela first experimented with dyeing Zoe’s fur on July 4, 2022, in honor of Independence Day.

“I started dyeing her feet,” she said, “I did them red, white and blue for the Fourth of July.”

“You can only dye 10 to 15 percent of the dog in order to compete in grooming competitions, but I wanted her to be beautiful. Now, she’s over-the-top, beautiful, and pretty. And she inspires me so much – she’s easy-going, fun-loving, and energetic without being overwhelming.”

“She’s flirty to people who take selfies with her – she loves kissing. And she’s a total ham, playing up to the camera and posing. It’s impossible not to like her when you meet her in real life.”

While Angela is no longer considering entering Zoe for grooming competitions – she credits Zoe with being the ‘spokesdog’ for Muse Dog Spa.

She said: “We’re called Muse – and she is literally my muse.

“I’ve switched gears from entering her into competitions and now she’s like my marketing team. Her pictures are all over our branding and website – she’s our spokesdog.”

Angela also owns two other dogs – Gala, a four-year-old 6lbs Japanese Chin, and Bentley, a 10-year-old 35lbs Fox Hound. Zoe tends not to recognize her own strength, and loves bounding around with Gala, despite being 50lbs herself.

“She’s incredibly gentle,” Angela said, “She plays tug-of-war with Gala and Bentley – she lets them crawl all over her.

“She’s just a sweetheart – if she sees us carrying around the little dog, she’ll stand up and want to give us hugs.”

In the last year, Angela has invested around $1,200 into Zoe, including the cost of fur dye and grooming products. But she plans to enroll her in private training to become a therapy dog, which has cost an additional $800.

Angela said: “For me, the training has been the biggest investment into Zoe’s future. We’re working towards her becoming a therapy dog and visiting hospital patients.”

Zoe’s different dye looks over the last few months:

  • Purple paws
  • Red, white and blue for the 4th July
  • A sunset look – orange, yellow, and red

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld

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