"Once you have your idea on paper, you just look at your dog and do what feels best. People think I'm crazy, because I'll just grab the scissors and start whacking away; I'll just go at it. I don't do a lot of planning," Hartness said. "I might pull the coat, rubber band the coat, and look at in a little more detail, but once I have an idea I just kind of widen it out on my dog and start cutting."
Hartness believes the idea of cutting the coat poses somewhat of a psychological barrier in creative grooming, one that has prevented the innovative style from taking firm root among dog owners in America, and part of the negative reaction she often gets.
"I think a lot of people are afraid of dyeing their dog or just whacking into that coat. But it doesn't hurt the dog at all. I don't have any human children -- my dog is my child. I would never do anything to hurt my dog."
According to Hartness, the dyeing of the dog is the most difficult part of creative grooming because of the need for a "crisp yet blended" separation of colors. But she said the most important quality a groomer can possess is the ability to improvise.
"My camel, I got that while I was onstage. I had shaved down this Persian cat to serve as the hump on her back, but onstage it just didn't feel right. I was like, "It's not gonna work, it's not gonna work." So all of a sudden I just started scooping up all the hairs I had scissored off, adding some hair spray, some glue, mashed it all together, added more hair, more spray, more glue, and I just threw it on her back," she said with a laugh.
"I mean, it's important to know your subject, but there's been a few times where I've walked onstage with a white dog. I had a few basic lines, but that's it. I won first place with those dogs, and I did everything onstage. So a lot of times things won't work, but you have to be able to improvise."
Hartness said her greatest hope is that people will realize the joys of creative grooming and take up her passion alongside her.
"We're trying to get more and more people interested all the time," she said. "I think there's a few of us that have a deep passion for it, and other people just think it's fun. But I don't think there's that many of us at all."