IF YOU think dog parlour bookings are easy to come by in the week before Christmas, you're barking up the wrong tree.
Pooch pampering hot spots in Canberra are frantic. One, the Farrer-based Shampooch, is refusing up to 15 dogs a day.
Shampooch owner Kylie Gallimore said, ''Coming up to Christmas people want their dog looking gorgeous.'' She also attributed the surge in demand to the summer heat.
The week before Christmas has been booked solid since September, Ms Gallimore said. The parlour grooms about 30 dogs a day, with each dog taking 45 minutes to an hour depending on size - and the phone never stops.
''We could work 24 hours a day up to Christmas and would never get through the backlog,'' Ms Gallimore said, adding the dog grooming industry was booming and crying out for more groomers.
At the pooch parlour, it's not just about shampooing. One dog gets her ears and tail done in hot pink. Other dogs have their toenails painted in quick-drying polish. The must-have colours are red and green.
''There are nail art competitions for dogs,'' Ms Gallimore, a champion groomer, said.
Next year she plans to offer doggy mudbaths to soothe skin conditions.
''A lot of people are choosing not to have children and their dogs are so spoiled,'' she said.
While most of her clients are well-behaved, others get muzzled to prevent biting. Other occupational hazards of being a dog groomer include occasional leg humping and a bit of pee and poo.
Ms Gallimore's own dog, Flirt in a Skirt, sits quietly in a corner of the parlour. Her 30-centimetre hair is banded to keep it out of her face and her ears are plastic-wrapped to keep them out of her food. Two-year-old Flirt is a real top dog, in fact, one of the top toy poodles on the show circuit in Australia. Her puppies are due any day now.