Rielley, a 7-year-old standard poodle, runs at Freeland Park on Whidbey Island. Owner Laurie Cecil, a pet groomer by trade, spends 10 hours a week doing the dog’s hair. He is her service dog and she takes him everywhere. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Rielley, a 7-year-old standard poodle, runs at Freeland Park on Whidbey Island. Owner Laurie Cecil, a pet groomer by trade, spends 10 hours a week doing the dog’s hair. He is her service dog and she takes him everywhere. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

He’s a chill dog with dreadlocks — unless Led Zeppelin’s playing

Poodle is more than groomer’s pet. “He’s my service dog, marketing director and best date I’ve ever had.”

CLINTON — This hairdo could cost you about $500 a month, and 40 hours in the salon.

But you have to be a special breed to pull it off.

What’s up with that?

Dreadlocks for dogs.

Rielley, a 7-year-old standard poodle with a helluva mop of hair, turns heads and sweeps the floor.

The dude is equally magnetic for dust as he is for selfies. People stop to gawk and snap pics.

“We get maybe 5 feet, if we’re lucky,” said Laurie Cecil while shopping at a Freeland grocery store with her sidekick.

Same as when she’s with Rielley at the QFC in Mukilteo.

“Look and take pictures, but don’t touch,” she tells all those whose hands go for the strands.

Cecil owns Laurie’s Warm Fuzzies, a mobile grooming salon for dogs.

Rielley is more than her show dog. He’s her service dog.

“A diabetic alert dog,” said Cecil, who has Type 2 diabetes. He wears a red service vest over his black-and-white locks, often with red hat atop his gray face to complete the dapper look.

She does his hair. It takes about 10 hours a week.

The ropes of hair are matted, not braided.

“Each one is a cord,” Cecil said. “And to maintain it you have to pull it down to the skin. That’s called ripping. You hear the hair rip as you’re pulling it apart. It’s nothing harmful to the dog. Rielley sleeps through that part. That is done for each one.”

There are hundreds of cords. She’s never counted.

“It’s a lot of work. If somebody wanted their dog corded I would be happy to teach them how to do it,” she said. “Or groom the dog for them.”

Rielley’s dreadlocks, also known as cords, cross his back. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Rielley’s dreadlocks, also known as cords, cross his back. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

That’s where the monthly $500 comes in for weekly cording sessions. So you might want to get training to DIY if you go that route.

Other groomers contacted for this story do not offer cording services, and said most don’t.

A standard poodle clip at DesiLu’s Pet Boutique in Mukilteo is about $80, and that includes a bath, brush-out, nail trim and a cool bandana.

Cecil has been a groomer for 21 years, with about 16 of those on wheels. Her Dodge Ram 3500 van is a fully equipped grooming shop. She covers the Puget Sound region.

“It’s more a high-end spa experience than just grooming,” she said. “I could spend two to five hours per dog, depending on the dog. They get a hydro massage bath, similar to the force of a hot tub jet focus on their shoulder, back or hips, whatever feels good.”

Cording is one aspect of Rielley’s extensive primping.

“It takes a full day to bathe and dry him,” Cecil said. “Then I shave out the areas … the face, undercarriage, the feet, rear end. It’s a modified continental show clip.”

The debonair dog always catches the attention of Whidbey Islander Margi Hartnett, who works in creative services for The Daily Herald.

“It’s impressive. You have to look,” Hartnett said. “You don’t expect a cut like that on a poodle.”

Her miniature poodle Jozee gets a puppy clip about every two months. She doesn’t plan to give Jozee what she calls “the Johnny Depp pirate look.”

Most dogs don’t have the hair for dreadlocks. “Havanese and all sizes of poodles could be corded,” Cecil said. Komondor, Puli and the Italian bergamasco have the look naturally.

She previously corded Sebastian, a standard all-black poodle who died of cancer at age 11 seven years ago.

Shortly before his death, she got Rielley as a pup from a breeder in Wisconsin.

Rielley, based on his particular hair colors, is known as a parti poodle.

The chill pooch becomes a party poodle if Led Zeppelin is on the radio.

He howls, nose pointed upward, to “Whole Lotta Love” like he’s Robert Plant.

“We’re rockers. He goes with me to concerts,” Cecil said. “I want to take him to a Zeppelin concert.”

Or at least a Zeppelin tribute band.

He has gone with her to the Indigo Girls, Heart and Bob Seger.

He didn’t sing along.

There’s something about Zeppelin.

“We go to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and people are so amazed at how quiet he is. He sleeps through most of it,” Cecil said.

She credits his training.

“I socialized and sensitized him,” she said. “I took him to Tulalip at Boom City for the fireworks and he’s just like this while the whole world’s exploding. I took him to Woodland Park Zoo for focus training. I did lots of work in public around people.”

Laurie Cecil with her dog Rielley, 7, at Freeland Park (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Laurie Cecil with her dog Rielley, 7, at Freeland Park (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

She and Rielley go everywhere together.

He stays by her side, unless he’s out of vest. Then he might run and jump and have fun.

“He’s a normal poodle,” Cecil said.

Uh-huh. As normal as a rock star dog can be, that is.

His diet is high-grade dry food. “And then I cook for him,” she said. “He gets chicken and vegetables.”

Why do his hair like that?

“For me, it’s just the looks,” Cecil said. “Being different, and it’s something I can do.”

She’d like to get him into modeling or TV commercials. Better yet, an album cover.

Maybe there will even be an added bonus …

“I’m hoping he’ll introduce me to my next partner, hopefully my forever one,” Cecil said.

“I wouldn’t mind hooking up with a veterinarian or a groomer or trainer. So far, he’s my service dog, my marketing director and right now the best date I’ve ever had.”

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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