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When a pooch becomes a badger: Wisconsin dog groomer a hit on prime-time TV

When a pooch becomes a badger: Wisconsin dog groomer a hit on prime-time TV

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By decking out a Schnauzer with an expert coat carving and a sprinkle of rhinestones, a Madison-area dog groomer advanced Tuesday night to the next round of the new ABC-TV reality series “Pooch Perfect,” where top creative dog groomers are vying for a $100,000 grand prize.

Deb Compton with Bedlington Terrier Ripley

Deb Compton, regional grooming team lead at Pet Supplies Plus, grooms Ripley, a Bedlington Terrier she co-owns, in the Fitchburg store. 

Deb Compton plus her son Jordan Jones — otherwise known as “Team Deb” — were among 10 teams challenged to groom a dog similar to their “heart dog” on the show’s first episode, which aired at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Compton’s “heart dog” — defined as a dog that holds a very special place in the heart of its owner — was her white miniature Schnauzer, Mako, who died last September at age 14.

Compton described her bond with Mako through tears on the show. “He took a piece of us with him,” she said.

“Pooch Perfect” assigned Compton and Jones a scruffy dark Schnauzer that the pair meticulously groomed for the competition, earning first-round “immunity” to assure they would advance to the next round.

“I am amazed that you were able to take the brave decision to carve into the coat,” said Jorge Bendersky, one of three judges on the show. “The moment you put the blade on it, there’s no going back.”

In the next event on the slickly produced show, contestants were asked to transform a dog so it resembled a completely different animal. Teams produced a flamingo, skunk, goldfish, peacock, elephant and more. Compton and Jones turned a very patient West Highland White Terrier into — what else? — a badger.

“It’s the Wisconsin state animal,” Compton explained.

In one amusing bit, Jones asked the show’s host, Australian actress Rebel Wilson of “Pitch Perfect” fame, if she’d go out to dinner with him. Wilson flirtatiously responded with her comic flair that she’d think it over.

“Pooch Perfect” is scheduled to run for eight episodes.

Grooming awards in pet salon

Grooming awards line the windows at Pet Supplies Plus in Fitchburg, where Deb Compton heads the dog-grooming team.

In 2020, Compton was contacted through her Facebook page and asked to apply to be on the U.S. debut of “Pooch Perfect,” already a reality series produced in the United Kingdom and Australia. She did a video interview with the producers and, after she was selected, flew out to Los Angeles for the filming, she said.

Deb Compton with Ripley

Deb Compton, regional grooming team lead at Pet Supplies Plus, greets Ripley, a Bedlington Terrier she co-owns, in the Fitchburg store.

Compton, 42, happened into dog grooming about 18 years ago and now is regional salon lead for Pet Supplies Plus, working out of the Fitchburg store at 2928 Hardrock Road. Jones, 19, learned dog grooming growing up in his mom’s grooming studio and now works as a dog groomer at the Pet Supplies Plus store in Austin, Minnesota.

From 2011 to 2019, Compton ran her own grooming studio near Madison called “In the Dogz House.” She has groomed show dogs for American Kennel Club events, won titles such as “Best Up and Coming Creative Groomer,” and personally shows Bedlington Terriers and Miniature Poodles in AKC shows. Her grooming techniques include “coat carving, scissoring animals into the dog’s hair and turning dogs into wild creatures, including a zebra Pegasus, a jungle tableau, sloths, and a troop of monkeys,” according to her bio.

“This is Jedi-level grooming,” one contestant said of the level of competition in “Pooch Perfect.”

Compton and Jones watched the show from home with their family in Westfield. “We’re having an after-party,” she said Tuesday night by phone with a laugh. “I’m so excited to see next week.”

Ripley with Deb Compton

Bedlington Terriers, like Ripley, are the favorite breed of dog groomer Deb Compton, who specializes in curly coats. 


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