The Science of Dog Hair

Fine Readers,

Today I’d like to go off topic (please indulge me):

I’d like to take a moment to have a scientific and somewhat technical discussion about the different varieties of canine hair.

The two basic types are explained below:

The Superior Kind

This type of hair can be described as fluffy, soft, and silky to the touch. It comes in a variety of colors, the most desirable being white. People who don’t usually like dogs are known to gently stroke the heads of breeds that sport this type of hair with minimal revulsion. Yes, folks-It is THAT wonderful. And it’s quite rare- I seldom see a dog with superior type hair unless I look in the mirror. Which is difficult to do, since Mom tends to selfishly hang mirrors at heights suitable only to humans.

But the greatest benefit of superior hair is the miraculous way each follicle holds onto each individual hair with all its might. That follicle won’t let go for the rest of that lucky hair’s life. Sure, the hair continues to grow and becomes long and unruly over time. When this happens, the hygiene challenged among us might occasionally find a dingle berry bouncing merrily beneath the tail like a stinky little hitchhiker. But that’s where the mobile dog groomer enters the picture. After a wash, cut and blow-dry, the superior haired dog is good as new. (and smells exceptionally lovely)

Those brave little follicles, still holding on tight to their precious hair cargo- breath a sigh of relief from their lightened load. Being groomed is an enjoyable experience and virtually painless, though I do hear Mom let out a cry when she writes the check.

Below, you can see the before and after grooming pictures of a superior haired dog.

Before: the scruffy and cute “dog next door” look.

After: the suave and sophisticated “man about town” look (think: James Bond)  The mean-spirited among us might say” OMG-he looks like a girl”

All other Kinds

The rest of the types can all be labeled as merely “fur.” They run the gamut from short and coarse (think: hound), to midsized and wiry (think: terrier), to long, thick and tangled (think: golden retriever). They all have one thing in common: the tendency to smell a little funky. When people who don’t like dogs accidentally come in contact with a creature with fur- they will run to the nearest sink and wash their hands in lye.

The follicles on these breeds willingly let go of their assigned hair with the slightest provocation: a soft breeze, an ambitious fart, or sometimes just for the fun of it. The newly liberated hairs gently ride the air currents of your home to eventually land on sweaters, countertops, or their favorite place of all: the mashed potatoes on your dinner plate.  These errant hairs tend to accumulate under the couch, where they group together to form small colonies of animals known as dust bunnies. Left alone long enough- they have been known to come alive. I kid you not.

Below are before and after grooming photos of a dog with “fur”

At certain times of the year- instead of one piece at a time- the offending hairs come out in clumps. I recently had the misfortune of witnessing a dog that was in the process of  “blowing her coat”. Which basically refers to the time of year when a dog, in this case Nessa, our gentle giant houseguest, releases 80% of her hair in about 2 days.

If you are not familiar with this term, don’t feel bad. We weren’t either until Auntie A gave Mom a quick education on the subject, while she smiled with glee that it happened at our house instead of hers.

Mom was vacuuming up wads of Nessa-hair for 3 weeks. I tactfully suggested that maybe she should get the vacuum out more often- sometimes it a good thing that she can’t hear it when I speak.

Why am I bringing up all of this “hair/fur” nonsense you ask?

Just a few hours ago we welcomed foster #3 to the house. I knew it was coming. Mom was displaying all the signs:

Flitting around the house, singing like a schoolgirl and boiling chicken (Tommy would NEVER eat boiled chicken- he is a gourmet chef for gods sake). Finally, when she pulled old Abby Girl’s crate out from the basement, I knew I was doomed.

When he walked through the door this fine Saturday morning (with mom, who was smiling like an idiot), I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was beautiful, he was wonderful, and he had hair like me!

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