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Northeast Indiana’s ‘Perfect Pooches’

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NORTHEAST INDIANA (WPTA21) - The series premiere of ABC’s “Pooch Perfect” airs March 30 at 8 p.m.

Actress and comedian Rebel Wilson will host the dog grooming competition.

But did you know - there are plenty of perfect pooches in 21Country!

We spoke to the Northeast Indiana Kennel Club who shared with us how they keep their award winning breeds looking spectacular all year long.

And in addition to keeping them in their best shape, handler Greg Wessel says pet happiness and owner involvement is also key.

“They are dogs first. That’s important. Let them be a dog, let them have fun,” Wessel explained, “and when you put the show lead, they know. Dogs are very smart.”

“If you watch Westminster on television, you see those dogs looking at their owners and their eyes are looking at their owners,” he continued, “and their eyes are just beautiful and they’re just asking for, ‘I want this attention. I want to win this.’”

Silky Terriers

Janice Mercer has bred silky terriers since 1976.

She brought us “Sweet and Sassy”, her show dog that was working towards her grand championship.

“I want them to look natural,” Mercer said, “Very little grooming on these dogs. We trim the ears, keep them clean. They’re to have a scissor bite. You trim between the eyes to keep the eyes clean. You trim the feet and trim the tail, and that’s basically the trimming.”

“Sweet and Sassy” appeared along her daughter.

Mercer says her silky terriers are very protective.

English Springer Spaniel

“Although it doesn’t look like it a lot,” Mary Osbun told us, “of the dogs here it’s probably the most grooming.”

She brought along her English Springer Spaniel “Giggles”, though her registered name is “Tee-hee-hee”.

For demonstration purposes, Osbun only groomed half of “Giggles” giving us an idea of a before and after.

“She has gotten her ears trimmed, her face is all trimmed, her neck is all trimmed, her feet, then all of this hair you work with,” Osbun said, “strip it, calm it, brush it, and try to get it all shiny and natural looking.”

English Springer Spaniels are very loyal to their owners, and were often used for retrieving animals for hunters.

Golden Retriever

Wessel brought his retired golden retriever “Mary”.

Though her show days are over, she often accompanies Wessel, and even stared as “Sandy” in the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre’s production of Annie last year.

But achieving a “natural look” is anything but easy.

“Two days before we leave for a show, she’ll get a nice warm bath. I’ll blow out her coat,” he said, gesturing to some gear on the ground, “we have some heavy duty dryer equipment here.”

Then he combs her entire body removing dead hair.

Mary will get her nails trimmed with a drummel, and a light shampoo after her bath.

Lastly, Wessel uses the hair dryer to stylize the coat.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Martha Goings introduced us to Sherlock.

She tells us the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is relatively easy to groom, if you’re consistent.

A step necessary to avoid shedding around the house.

She uses a human hairbrush!

“The big thing is if you have rubber tips or nylon tips, it’s easier on the dog,” Goings suggests.

She also uses a metal comb to help remove extra hair.

Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen

Karen Clugston brought “Blake” the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen.

We’ll use PBGV for short.

Thought there are four breeds, Clugston shows the smallest.

“Petite means small. bassets mean low to the ground. Griffon is the type of coat they have - a wirey coat,” she explained, “and Vendéen is the region of France they’re from.”

She tells us in some competitions, over-grooming them can lead to disqualification.

She too uses a stripping knife, comb, and her hand to help shape their coat before a show.


Gina Freer brought Loni, her Boxer.

Loni wears a cooling jacket before competition, which serves two purposes.

Keeping her from overheating and acting as a weighted blanket to calm nerves.

While grooming is relatively easy, keeping the dog in the best physical condition is even more important with the boxer breed.

“What’s important with a boxer is keeping them in condition all year long,” Freer said, “You don’t have the coat to cover things so you see every muscle, every ripple in their body. It’s pretty much through diet, exercise, conditioning nails, coat conditioner, pretty much a bath and conditioner once a week - and that’s what you do to maintain them.”


The Northeast Indiana Kennel Club is all about competition, connection, and education.

“Our dogs come first and we care about them,” Wessel explained, “but we’re a community here to help. If someone wants to learn about pure bred dogs, or dog shows, or the many other events that pure bred dogs compete it. This is such a great town for dogs.”

For more information on the NEIKC, you can find their website here, or their facebook page here.

Stay tuned with ABC21 for continue coverage as we count down until the premiere of ABC’s “Pooch Perfect” next week.

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Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is the producer of the ABC21 feature franchise “21Country”. He is constantly on the lookout for ideas that capture the “people, places, things, and history” that makes Northeast Indiana unique. Feel free to reach out:

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