Pet pooches strut their stuff on the dogwalk in furry makeover looks on Pooch Perfect

How to turn the family dog into a model

When you have actress, writer, producer Rebel Wilson at the helm of a show be prepared for anything.

When it's a show about grooming dogs to change their appearance to resemble other animals, pop stars and sea creatures, you have Pooch Perfect.

Last week 10 grooming teams entered the "Pooch Palace" to face judges Colin Taylor and Amber Lewin and compete for the prized "Poochie" trophy and $100,000.

The United Kingdom's Taylor has international grooming experience and will judge the stylists on their kind handling, attention to detail and suitability of the design for the dog. California girl Lewin is an award-winning master groomer and has a luxury pet hotel and grooming academy with her husband Jeff. She is looking for compassion, creativity and passion from the groomers.

The first episode was a big wake-up call for professional groomer Wendy and her stepdaughter Nikki. With 30 years' grooming under her belt, Wendy says she didn't understand the stresses and the processes. "I don't feel the first episode was my best. I was cringing to watch it. Nobody really likes the sound of their own voice," the Lake Macquarie resident says.

Wendy does mostly show clients these days. "It gives me a bit more satisfaction, you really have to pay attention to detail."

Nikki and her partner have a smash repair business, and she has no previous grooming experience. "I love dogs. I have two German shorthair pointers, called Ava and Luna. We've had Luna from a puppy. Apparently people call pointers Luna a lot and I know why, because they are lunatics. Ava was actually called Aviary because they are bird dogs. She was a rescue and we changed her name."

Nikki says she is enjoying the learning process on the show. "I'm getting more knowledge of what tools to use and about different breeds and coats."

Each of the teams is given a topic which for episode one was "family dog makeover". Once the stylists have worked their magic they parade the dogs on the "dogwalk" in front of their families as Wilson serves up her unique style of commentary.

Some might see the styles and think the dogs look very odd. "Dogs don't look in the mirror," Wendy says. "They don't care what they look like. We give them treats and cuddle them. All dogs with coats need to get groomed. If you condition dogs to like going to the groomers they just lie there."

Wendy says the dogs were given temperament testing, but there were a few hairy moments - excuse the pun.

The ladies had a cavoodle to primp and the brief Wendy provided back to the judges was to turn the dog's look into a cute teddy bear style. "I wanted to give it a round head with a plush-looking body. I thought it was a bit safe, but as it was the first round I thought it would be okay.

"I assumed the dogs would have been brushed and ready, but this dog had a few knots and I had to cut them out."

"We had to work together as a team, and I was cuddling the dog a lot," Nikki says. It took a lot longer with the process. But it is good, because people can see what happens if they do not get regular grooming. I was waving the [imaginary cheerleader] pom poms every few minutes, keeping the positive thoughts around. It was hard with all the cameras, the producers, and the challenges. I reassured her she was doing a good job."

But, as a result of the knot snipping, the judges said team Wendy didn't stick to their brief. "I thought, I've been grooming too long to go out in first round," Wendy says.

But her final trim was good enough to avoid the elimination round, which saw three teams compete with a new dog to style. In the end it was team Annett and Lisa from the Central Coast and Coffs Harbour who had to turn in their clippers.

Wendy and stepdaughter Nikki both say they were out of their element. "Nikki was really quiet. She is never usually short of a conversation."

"It was nerve-racking. I put myself in a completely different world of learning about grooming," Nikki says. "It was interesting having cameras in my face. I always have a smile on my face, but I didn't know what to say sometimes. My confidence had to grow. It was hard with the microphones on, we had a good laugh about all of that."

"I was so out of my element, I had to really apply myself," Wendy says. "My imagination had to kick in. Nikki was great moral support. You need someone to say 'you got this' and she was there for me.

"It was a bonus working with Rebel. Nikki was really starstruck, which is wonderful. I don't think she will ever forget it. Rebel is the salt of the earth, she keeps it real, and she's funny as. She would look at the [cue] cards and just change it. It was an eye opener. You wish you had the information before going on the show."

"Wendy has met Rebel in the past and knows her mum," Nikki says. "I quite like the Pitch Perfect movies, and I follow her on Instagram. I had to act a bit professional but I was screaming on the inside. I spoke to her a few times ... there is something so special about her.

"It [the show] has opened my eyes up to the dog world and TV world. It's awesome."

Keeping a watchful eye over all the teams and monitoring the welfare of the dogs is vet Dr Bronwyn Orr. Grooming is an important aspect of caring for your pet, she says.

Along with Wendy and Nikki the remaining teams are: From NSW - stylist Alicia and her assistant and sister Michaela; stylist Prue and her assistant and daughter Caitlan; stylists Brad and Annie from Melbourne and Sydney; stylist Davina and her assistant Natasha from Brisbane and Sydney; Queensland stylists Tash and Monique; engaged Sunshine Coast couple stylists Chris and Shayla; Queensland husband and wife stylists Lee and Sue; Western Australian stylist Jacqui and assistant dog handling colleague Chelsey.

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