When You Love a Dog, There’s Always More Fur

Big tan short-haired dog reclining on a dirty mauve carpet. She's giving the photographer a dirty look.

I don’t understand why my dog isn’t bald by now. I am grateful. I’ve seen what lies beneath—old-man white skin with liver spots, not pretty at all—but considering how much of her fur falls off, how could she have any left?

Did you know that some dogs have fur and some have hair? It’s true. Apparently it’s a matter of thickness, of how many hairs grow out of each follicle. Human follicles each produce one hair while furry dog follicles produce several. Some dogs have more follicles than others. If you don’t want to deal with fur, get a schnauzer, a poodle or a Mexican Hairless Terrier.

Meanwhile, whatever you call it, I’ll call it fur, it’s everywhere. My dear Annie, a huggable strawberry-blonde Lab-pit bull mix, has a lush white undercoat that she sheds incessantly in one-inch strands that find each other, mate and procreate into big furballs. They’re on the carpet, they’re on the linoleum, and they’re on the easy chair she thinks I don’t know she sits on. There’s fur on all of my clothes and all over the house. No matter how carefully I clean and how many vacuum cleaners I clog, it’s there.

Groom her, you say. I do. The fur comes off in clumps thick enough to build another dog. But there’s always more. I once interviewed a woman who knit sweaters out of her dogs’ fur. Turns out she’s not the only one. A whole dog-fur-clothing industry exists. Really. That’s how plentiful it is. Check out this article: “Must Knit Dogs: Meet the People Who Turn Stray Dog Hair into Sweaters.”

Years ago, I lived in a townhouse in which the bedroom was upstairs. Many mornings I attempted to escape the fur by putting on my just-cleaned clothes, running straight down the stairs and out the door, not getting anywhere near the dog, the carpet or the furniture. I still had fur all over my pants when I got to work.

I’d spend the first hour surreptitiously trying to remove the fur with Scotch tape turned into a circle bracelet. I’d pat the tape against the cloth. It made a squishy sound and picked up a few hairs. I’d turn the tape around and around until it was so coated with fur that no stickum remained. And there’d still be hair on my pants, my jacket, my vest, my sweater or whatever I wore that day. I was like a walking human felt board, covered with fur.

Certain types of clothing are fur-resistant. Jeans are good. Khakis work because the fur blends in—unless your dog is black. That slippery stuff they make ski jackets out of gathers no fur. But put on some of our woolly Oregon fleece and you’ll be fuzzy in five minutes. You don’t have to touch the dog. You don’t even have to see the dog. It’s in the air.

 My car, upholstered in fake velvet, gathers fur even worse than fleece does. One pass through, and it comes off in wads, turning our Honda into a big four-wheeled fur factory.

I occasionally vacuum the car, trying to suck up every strand of fur. I get most of it. But never enough.

A long time ago, my mother came for a visit, wearing her usual dark blue slacks.

“Here we go,” I said, opening the door for Mom.

She took one look at my carefully vacuumed vehicle and asked, “Do you have a towel or something? It’s all furry.”

 “But I vacuumed.”

She swept a hand over the upholstery and came up with fur. I went for a towel. My mother never complained about anything, but she knew that once you get the fur, it never goes away.

My less dog-loving friends offer a simple solution. Get rid of the dog. No dog, no fur, no problem. No way. I love my dog so much that I would rather have her fur on everything I own than live without the sweet soul and spunky spirit that lie under all that lush fur.

Sometimes when I’m away from home, sitting at church or a concert or in someone else’s car, I find a piece of fur on my clothing. I quietly pull it off and let it float away. Wherever I go, I leave a bit of my darling dog. Look out, dog-haters. If I’ve been to your house, there’s fur in there somewhere. And where you find one, there’ll always be more.

Have you got a fur-bearing family member? How do you deal with the shedding?

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F is for . . . Fur!

There’s an old folk song about a woman who spent her life trying to rid her house of dirt and finally died and was buried in dirt. Well, in my case, instead of dirt, it would be fur. Dog fur, to be exact. Annie’s fur gathers on the carpets and linoleum and on all the furniture, even where she’s not allowed to go. Every time I vacuum, the canister fills up with fur. How can one dog shed so much and never go bald?
Fur coats the seats and floors of my car so much that friends in black pants take one look and say they’ll get a ride with someone else. It’s not that I don’t vacuum—I even use a special attachment for fur–but Annie’s white and tan coat sticks to the velour seats so well that nothing removes it all.
I also have fur on my clothes. If I’m staying home, I don’t dare wear anything dark or woolly. I take pieces of Annie with me everywhere I go. Even if I grab a brand new garment out of the bag, put it on and go straight out the door, I still find fur. Every weekend, as I sit at the piano between songs at Sacred Heart, I pluck the pale fur off my jacket or sweater and send it floating. By now enough of Annie has gone to church that she ought to qualify as a full-blown Catholic.
Annie’s Lab-Pit fur is short and rarely needs grooming. It doesn’t seem to bother my allergies the way the fur of a collie or a cockapoo might. But it’s everywhere. When you love a dog, you learn to love its fur and accept that your clothing will never be perfectly fur-free.
Did you know that animal fur is different from human hair in that it stops growing at a certain length, grows in double strands and frequently has an under-layer for added warmth? Also, unlike female humans, female dogs like Annie are allowed to be hairy all over and even have whiskers. She wonders why anyone would shave their legs or pluck their eyebrows.
I’m participating in this month’s A to Z blogging challenge, and F is for fur. My alphabetical posts are distributed among my various blogs. Here is the schedule:
A Newsletter–A is for Annie
B Childless by Marriage–B is for Baby
C Unleashed in Oregon–C is for Crate
D Writer Aid–D is for Deadline
E Unleashed in Oregon–E is for Ear
F Unleashed in Oregon
G Unleashed in Oregon
H Childless by Marriage
I Unleashed in Oregon
J Writer Aid
K Unleashed in Oregon
L Unleashed in Oregon
M Unleashed in Oregon
N Childless by Marriage
O Unleashed in Oregon
P Writer Aid
Q Unleashed in Oregon
R Unleashed in Oregon
S Unleashed in Oregon
T Childless by Marriage
U Unleashed in Oregon
W Writer Aid
X Unleashed in Oregon
Y Unleashed in Oregon
Z Unleashed in Oregon

More than 2000 other bloggers have signed up for the challenge. For more information, visit a-to-zchallenge.com You might find some great new blogs to follow. I know I will. Come back to Unleashed in Oregon tomorrow to find out what G stands for.

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