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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