We've seen our fair share of ridiculous-looking dogs in our time, but photographer Paul Nathan has just returned from the trenches with Goofy-emblazoned pups and taken the photos to prove it. Nathan, a New Zealand native who has lived in NYC for the last seven years and currently resides in Williamsburg, set up shop at New Jersey’s Intergroom dog grooming competition last year, and the results are his new photography book, "Groomed."

"I'm interested in how much the nature of the dog shines through once it's groomed into a palm tree, or whatever," 43-year-old Nathan told us. "How much of the dog do you feel? How much of the personality is still there? I would have to say, yeah, the personality is totally there. It's still very much that dog."

Nathan, whose previous books include "Generation Ink: Williamsburg, Brooklyn" and "Couture Dogs of New York," was able to capture moments of pre-show preparations in studio portraits featuring poodles, cockerspaniels, bichon frises, bedlington terriers, komondors and more—and that includes the creative grooming, photos of which you can see above. "My main job is as a fashion photographer, I shoot look books and fashion ads," he explained. "So I was looking for something visual, and started seeing pictures of amazingly groomed dogs on Facebook, and thought, wow, that might be a really amazing project to get into."

Since he already had some experience taking dog photos for his previous book, and had contacts in the grooming world, it wasn't hard for him to dive in—which meant working with both demanding dogs and demanding owners, including members of the US national dog grooming team. "They were, in general, suspicious of my motives," he said about the dog owners. "And I certainly wasn't trying to make fun of them. I prefer to stay neutral."

Our number one question, of course, was whether he thought the dogs were okay with being poked and prodded for the incredible elaborate getups: "From what I observed, these dogs are used to it," he reasoned. "They're special dogs, with lots of patience. Not all dogs can be competitive grooming dogs. They have a lot of experience. That's what they do." At the same time, he admits, "It's probably not something I would do to my dog, if I was to have one, but I think it's certainly an artistic expression, and a creative expression."

Nathan has a lot of new projects in the works, including a children's book about a cat with a huge wardrobe that comes to New York and has an adventure, a series on female bodybuilders ("When you go backstage at one of those [competitions] your mouth drops, it's just so out there. Everyone's bathed in this brown oil and...it's out there. More out there than dogs being done up"), and one on buildings around NYC ("There's all sorts of really interesting modern or old buildings in NY that people don't usually photograph, so I've been trying to capture them in a way that moves me").

But he still plans on going back to the Intergroom competition when it returns in April and taking more photos on the final day of the competition. "My feeling is that these people are an easy target to deride or criticize, but they're not harming the dogs from what I could see," he said. "Yeah, they're a little bit kooky, but they're creative...they're making the world a more colorful place."