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Dog Owners Groom Canines for Comfort Amid Summer Swelter

Kika Espejo and her dog Moses stayed in the shade of McCarren Park to hide from the heat. Espejo said she is about to cut Moses' hair and make the fur into a pillow.
Kika Espejo and her dog Moses stayed in the shade of McCarren Park to hide from the heat. Espejo said she is about to cut Moses' hair and make the fur into a pillow.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

WILLIAMSBURG — Kika Espejo is finally relieving her Spanish water dog Moses of his thick unwieldy mane — and turning the sheep-like curls into a pillow.

"His hair gets in knots all over, it keeps him way too hot," Espejo, 29, said, admitting that she just trimmed the 18-month-old pup's hair for the first time in his life last week with scissors.

"I just bought clippers, I'm going to cut his hair this week and make a pillow out of what's left."

Espejo is among the many New York dog owners prompted by this summer's swelter to step up their grooming games — whether with closer cuts, special brushes or complete shaves.

"Everybody cuts their dogs more often in the summer," said Mike Farrell, the owner of Doggie Styles Pet Grooming on Roebling Street, who said his business doubled in hot months.

"Everybody wants it shorter, and some want it almost shaved," Farrell said of pets' fur as he held a razor to a Shih Tzu in his shop full of panting canines.

Even some owners who prefer their pup's hair long and shaggy, like Williamsburg resident Paul Marks, said the extreme temperatures have tipped their style preferences over the edge.

"When it hit 90, it showed itself as a real problem," Marks said of his poodle Servo's thermal fur, which Marks had snipped at a Greenpoint groomer called My Two Dogs. "There was lots of huffing and puffing...he's been a lot happier and more active since we had him cut."

Despite the need for shorter locks, Farrell warned that canines still need "just enough fluff" to protect their skin from the harsh sun.

"It's just like if you go outside without a shirt...you can get sunburned," he said.

But Nancy Horowitz, a Williamsburg resident who recalled her mother's annual cuts for their schnauzers when she was a child, said the pups' hair would be "down to a quarter of an inch, almost shaved," in the summer to help them cope with the heat.

Horowitz now owns a Chihuahua, Colin, whose hair she can not get cut because his breed has only one layer of fur, she said.

"He's more like a person, he gets really hot in the summer and cold in the winter, because he doesn't have insulation...it's really hard," she said of her dog's seasonal suffering. "When it's hot he's fussy and he won't even walk."

Erica Feldman, 26, said she pays particular attention to grooming Shae, her Australian blue wheeler/rat terrier, with a FURminator special brush to remove excess fur and knots in the warm months.

And longtime Williamsburg resident Grecia Garcia, 72, said she is currently saving up money to afford a haircut for her puppy Bronco at Doggie Style Grooming, where prices range from $45 to $65.

"Bronco has a lot of hair, I have to get it cut," she said in Spanish. "I have to leave the AC on for him."

But no matter what dog owners do, Horowitz said the situation is helpless.

"Everyone in the city says their dog hates the summer," she said, as Colin flopped lethargically in a patch of McCarren Park's shade.