Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Wonky fur: the struggle is real

The joy of working from home is that I can, within reason, say to hell with it and go do something else from time to time during the day. I still have to return to the workload that accumulates regardless of whether I'm at my desk from 9 to 5 or not. It's not like anyone else is going to do it for me. That would imply I have co-workers. Ha-ha. I remember having them . . . years ago . . .

Anyway, today's to hell with it moment happened when I checked the weather forecast and realized the next 36 hours may be positively liquified, followed by seasonal (i.e., chilly) weather to follow. While I'm delighted at the prospect of October feeling like October, not August, this is a Bad Thing on several levels, one of them being it interferes with my need to bathe Banner for a weekend show.

Folks who show Dobermans or Boxers or any other sleekit (yes, that's a word, look it up) breeds don't have to survey the calendar, consult the weather forecast, check the stage of the moon and invoke the Goddess when it's time to bathe their dogs. They don't have to deal with Wonky Fur.

People with furry breeds are nodding their heads sagely. All you Aussie and Sheltie and Terv folks, can I get an amen? Wonky Fur is real.

Remember that time you washed your hair and went to bed with it wet? Remember how you looked the next morning? Like half of your skull had been detached and reattached backward?

I'm talking about the canine equivalent. Once shampooed, rinsed and blown dry, dog fur is no less susceptible to bizarre flights of fancy. It does things that will not put the dog wearing it at any advantage in the show ring, be it breed or obedience.

Banner's post-bath fur sticks up in tufts and whorls. He looks a bit like a hungover possum for the first 24 hours after his bath. He also gets the Dreaded Back Part which creates an optical illusion that will have every obedience judge on the planet squinting and twisting their head while they try to decide if the front is actually straight in spite of the crooked line zig-zagging down his back. I do not want to make the judge think. Ever. About anything.

I suppose if I approached the blow-drying portion of his grooming with a bit more finesse, this could possibly be avoided right off the bat. But I don't. I tend to dry his hair with the same approach I use on my own.

Turn the dryer on.

Blast the hair until it's dry.

Turn the dryer off.

This yields better results on the human head. And probably explains a lot if you've seen my hair lately.

After 24 hours and some astute attention with a spray bottle and slicker, his Dreaded Back Part will be vanquished and all will be well.

If you're into dogs, you know an entire industry has sprung up around defeating Wonky Fur. There are coats and creams and sprays and grooming tools, all designed to flatten the fluff. Well, not flatten it totally, just tame it into acceptable lines. I'm fortunate a bit of time is all Banner needs to get his fur behaving.

But for my entire life with fluffy dogs, standard operating procedure has dictated no dog bathing the night before a show unless there's been an unfortunate digestive incident or an encounter involving a skunk. Don't laugh unless you've been there. You're all laughing. You've all been there. I knew it. Amen, sister.

So this afternoon I hung the hypothetical "Back Later" sign on my office door and gave Bann a bath.

Damn dog is waterproof.

Do you know how much spraying it takes just to get him wet to the skin? The degree of water repellancy (that's a word, too, even though this program refuses to like it no matter how I spell it) is fascinating. And annoying. I spend more time trying to get him soaked, then rinsed, that actually shampooing him.

He's the most wonderfully tolerant beast when it comes to baths. I wouldn't say he likes it but I think he's willing to trade in-the-tub cooperation for being allowed to get the post-bath bat-shit crazy zoomies.

Canine nuttery after being toweled off is nothing new but Banner takes it to new heights. He face plants on the bathroom rug, sticks his butt in the air and gyrates like a stripper five minutes before closing time.

I've discovered this is his go-to behavior, regardless of what part of him has been bathed. If I wash his paws? Face plant and butt wiggle. If I wash his butt and undercarriage? Face plant and butt wiggle.

That degree of cuteness is probably illegal in 17 states.

From the bathroom, it's outdoors to the grooming table. After the requisite blasting with the dryer, it's time for paw scissoring. In addition to being waterproof, Banner's second super power is growing paw hair. We haven't shown for three weeks and apparently he spent the whole time growing foot fur Sasquatch would be proud of. Either that or he knows something about the coming winter that I don't.

My guideline for trimming paws and ears is basic: showing this weekend? Start grooming last weekend.

That allows for errant scissor marks to grow out, which I am assured is a much bigger deal in the breed ring than on the obedience mats. Still, I've had my share of WTF scissoring moments when I realize my professional trim job looks instead like I'd perpetrated it in the dark with a pair of garden shears.

So, it's now late Tuesday afternoon. My clean, dry, wildly fluffy, precisely scissored (yeah, I'm going with that) dog is curled up on the chair in my office, napping, while I watch radar and wonder how I'm going to keep him anything resembing clean for the next three days.

Get a dog with white paws, they said. It'll be fun, they said.