You know what I’m talking about.
This is not a column for all you smug owners of cutesy, curly, designer-breed labracockapoodledoodledoos, hypoallergenic and genetically engineered not to shed (I’ll bet they don’t bark, poop or believe that skunks are kitty cats, either). No, this is a valentine to those of us who own dogs—the kind that shed on everything.
I have been thinking a lot about dog hair lately, which either means I need to get out more, or there’s a lot of it in my general vicinity. In my house, in my garage, in my car, on my rugs. Great poufy balls of it that roll along the hardwood floors like tumbleweeds and glisten in the sun. Fur that collects in corners like cobwebs, even outside. Heidi, a tall dog, has even managed to create a smooth, probably permanent coat of dark fur from her ears touching the ceiling of my car.
It’s even in my shoes. In fact, especially in my shoes. As I mentioned in , a partially torn ankle tendon has me clumping about in a soft cast that is a complicated arrangement of black fuzzy fabric and Velcro straps. Velcro and dog hair – need I say more? If you can guess how attractive this contraption is, just imagine how adorable it looks when adorned with clumps of fur.
You know how saintly it is to keep fabric bags in your car to use when you go grocery shopping, so you never have to respond to the question: “Paper or plastic?” – which, from an ecological standpoint, has no right answer. However, it is less charming when you pull out those fabric bags at the checkout counter and the cheerful bagger immediately asks: “Say, do you have a dog?” The animal doesn’t even have to be there to make her presence felt.
Brushing and grooming do not help. You can brush until the pile of hair next to the dog looks like you just got another dog, and there’s still more to come. Heidi once had the pleasure of a makeover by local celebrity groomer Artist Knox, who acknowledged that, given his line of work, he would never be able to get all of the dog hair out of his pockets. She looked simply fabulous as she continued to shed in the back of the car on the way home.
Heidi is my first dog, so I had no idea that a shorthaired canine with a sleek coat would shed more than Chrysler, our late tabby, a chubby chat from Detroit who was a dead ringer for the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. But it’s true. Heidi’s fur seems to be longer, stronger and more likely to weave itself into all types of fabric than Chrysler’s ever was.
Earlier this week I was dressed all in black, headed for the Kodak Theater for performance of Cirque du Soleil’s Iris, and found myself backing away from the dog to keep her from hugging me goodbye and thus covering my knees with hair, trying to push her determined snout away in the guise of giving her a pat on the head. She always gets especially snuggly when she knows I’m leaving.
But eventually I gave in and let my pal say her usual affectionate, hairy farewell, because it’s just way too ridiculous to run away from your German shepherd in your own house, even when you are by yourself. But just remember that when you see people who seem to be sprouting canine hair through their clothing, they are not werewolves waiting for midnight—they are loved by a dog.