Activity Improved By Woods

My mom is a high school teacher – she’s officially on her two months of consecutive vacation from teenagers, grading papers, and jammed photocopiers.  My dad recently had a knee surgery that has left him with very little skip in his hobble, and a 12 week recovery period that takes him right through to September.  Peanut (aka middle sibling) is on a hiatus from work that I won’t be getting into.  Doodle just started back into her glamorous summer job of Maintenance Worker at Grundy Provincial Park.  Don’t feel too bad for her – any job can be improved by adding the phrase “in the woods” to the end of it.

Yuck … cleaning toilets.  Yay, cleaning toilets in the woods.  Even more improved by the addition of with a pressure washer.  Bet you wish you could have that kind of entertainment in your own house cleaning efforts.  This is why rooms should have drainage holes in the middle of them.  All rooms.

Blah… mowing the lawn.  Cool! Mowing the lawn in the woods… on a ride-on lawnmower!

Not to mention, staff-house in the woods, Picking up Garbage in the woods, Waving and being friendly to visitors in the woods, and Honking at Bears in the woods.  That last one might just stand up on its own, but it is made even more exciting by the forest aspect.

What this all means, ignoring the massive discomfort my dad is in, and Doodle’s run-ins with washroom horrors, is that my entire family has a two month vacation in the woods compared to my measly 15 days total vacation each year.  And they’re taking the dog.

Balto had to slog through snow, and could have died. All the outdoorsy fun without as much chance of being eaten or dying.

Gwynn will be having, within a few short days, a most excellent adventure the likes of which Balto would be jealous.  He will be a Dog In The Woods, far superior to his in-the-burbs and in-the-city brethren.  Without me.

So many pros and cons, but overall, the guilt of not being around to ensure feeding, watering, exercise, entertainment, training, and a showering of love and affection is overwhelming.

I’m looking forward to the chance to sleep in that extra hour before work.  Really going to miss having an overriding requirement to go for a walk in the evening, even when I’m feeling lazy.

What if he needs me?  I know, I sound like such a clingy parent, but I am the Prime Doggy Caretaker.  There is a large portion of my not-at-work day that revolves around my shaggy shadow.  A great feature of dog ownership is that a lot of your time is scheduled for you, and you stay active whether you want to or not.  What on earth am I going to do during the week?

2-3 hours of weekday, and 4+ hours of weekend-day in which I won’t need to go for a walk.

TV watching time will not include dog grooming.

Training?  What training? 2-3 hours a week

Does a vacation from your pets feel like punishment or a reward?

What would you do with the time you usually spend with pets?

Feel free to substitute “children” for pets if you don’t have any feathered, furred or finned companions.  Those of you without pet or child… seriously, do you grasp the enormity of just how much time you have?!

Naked Beavers and Stripping

Despite my blatant attempt to garner more interest in my site (not to mention confuse some creepers), my post title is 100% applicable to my post.  Guesses? Anyone?  Bueler?

There is a certain freedom I find when I know the responsibility is about to be shunted to someone else.  I become… reckless.  Irresponsible.  That giddy feeling of knowing someone else will clean up the mess is probably wrong, but it feels so right.

Until Murphy comes out and roundhouse kicks you in the olfactory gland.

Footloose and fancy free, I took Gwynn to the lake for swimming nearly every day this past week.  So what if he smells a bit too much like Lake Ontario?  It’s not my problem.  It’s hers.  A week from now, anyways.

His white socks are distinctly grey because I take him to the lake and then to the dog park?  Meh.  She’ll fix it.  I can put up with a bit more sand around the house for the next few days.

And then I took him to a different beach than usual… less gravelly, more sandy, therefore dirtier, but who cares?  I’m not going to have to clean up this mess.  That was Tuesday.

Gwynn had a blast.  I had a blast.  It was a beautiful day, Gwynn was working up his courage to get four feet off the ground admirably, and I was on the beach in the sun. It was so nice out that I figured walking down the beach would be a great end to the walk.

"Boo!"

Did you know that an old enough beaver corpse will lose all of its fur, while retaining its skin in a strangely mummy-like way?  It was like the biggest naked mole rat ever, petrified in a kind of a “BOO” position.  There are no pictures.  There are NO words that fully capture how horrific this thing was.  There is no way I can pass on to you the absolute screaming disgust of watching one’s beloved dog use Jabba the Naked Beaver like a Slip’n’Slide as he tries to coat his entire body with face-first slides, in rotten beaver.

Recall?!  What Recall??

There’s no competing with the Crypt Beaver.

With only a few days before a trip to a professional… I rinsed.  Washing a dog with soap twice in one week doesn’t exactly seem like it’ll solve Gwynn’s itchy skin issues.  What smell doesn’t go away with a good soak-and-towel?  Naked-Mole-Beaver.  Yeah.

Wednesday night, and we’re going to our very first Intro to Agility class, sporting Eau-de-Rodent-Corpse.  Baby powder helped, surprisingly, though it gave his coat a strange and greasy feeling.  That’s ok, though – Babies-n-Beaver is an improvement, and he’s getting groomed on Saturday.

Sufficed to say, it was a long week.It was all made up for, though, when I passed Gwynn off to the beauteous and highly talented Madame Groomer.  She accepted the dog whose stink of corpse was mostly overridden by a few days’ time, baby powder, and returned a svelte and sleek and much nicer smelling replacement.  He smelled better than roses.  He had white patches where his white patches are supposed to be!

The Before:

how could they expect to improve on perfection?

The After!

Well... this might be better... just a bit...

Still not sure where the stripping comes into play?  Gwynn has a wire coat – his outer coat is only loosely connected, and our Groomer Extraordinaire strips that away entirely, pain free, leaving his gorgeously fluffy undercoat.  It shortens his coat without changing its natural texture when the wire coat grows back in, which allows me to grow his coat out long during the winter without it getting ridiculously matted by being too soft and fine.  For all who were web searching for any combination of Naked, Beaver, and Stripping… well… you got ’em!

Stripping and Strutting

The jitteriness and self-doubt came back the day I went to drop Gwynn off for his epically long haircut. 

“Maybe he’ll be fine with his hair just staying this long,” I suggested to my family.  They just shook their heads in disgust and asked me what time I needed to drop him off at the groomers.

“Well, what if I did it myself instead?” I offered.  They asked me what the address was to the groomers, they’d take him over there for me.  They collected all the scissors in the house into a pile and guarded them like a hyena guarding a carcass. 

It isn’t that I wasn’t happy with my final choice of groomer… it’s just the idea of Gwynn being cut down to an inch of hair that freaked me out a bit.  That, and leaving him somewhere.  I wasn’t blogging at the time that he got neutered, but this anxiety was almost as great as the anxiety leaving him at the vet’s office.  And they kept him for two nights, one before the surgery and one after… and surgery has the possibility of ending in a very bad way.  Whereas a bad haircut will just grow out.  Or so I kept telling myself.

When we got there, I’d resigned myself to finding out that he was a particularly not-nice-looking scrawny dog under all that fur (I’d love him anyways, of course), or that it would turn out that the fur was hiding just how obese he had secretly become.  But, having walked around for about 45 minutes in the sun, with the temperature reaching maybe even 20 degrees Celsius (that’s ‘almost too chilly for a t-shirt and jeans’ weather for those of you who can’t picture this temperature), Gwynn was seriously panting.  We hadn’t even done any fetch or running around.  He definitely needed a haircut. 

When we got there, the first thing the groomer said was, “I wanted to check something…”

She reached over to Gwynn, and with both hands, she started pulling out his hair all down his back.  And it came easily.  I brush this dog alot.  So this couldn’t possibly be a serious case of winter-coat coming out.  It was her testing and proving that he did in fact have a wire coat.  Underneath that wire coat was about 1 inch of silky fuzzy soft fur kind of like puppy fur.

A few examples of dogs with wire coats are Scottish terriers (ie scotty dogs), west highland terriers (ie westies), Brussels griffons, and border terriers.  It isn’t a silky soft coat – the term wire coat is really a reasonable description of the coat. You’ll notice that nowhere in those examples can you find Poodle, or Australian Shepherd.  That would be because Australian Shepherds have a fur coat that is medium texture, straight to slightly wavy, weather resistant, of moderate length with an undercoat, and Poodles have a hair coat that is either curly or corded.  How Gwynn ended up with a wire coat is beyond me. 

We discussed it and decided to strip his coat instead of clipping it. 

When you’ve got a wire coated dog, the following information should be considered when deciding whether to cut or strip his coat (I got some of this explained to me by the groomer, and some of it I found on the sites I list further down the page):

  • The short coat underneath is more natural looking after stripping than a shave would produce
  • Shaving softens the hair, which causes it to mat much more easily once the dog has been shaved once … Stripping doesn’t change the hair, because it just pulls the hair out, allowing new wire hairs to come in.  Wire hairs are soft at the root and wiry at the end, but cutting them means that the soft part just keeps growing out.
  • Stripping doesn’t hurt the dog, if done properly (neither does shaving, so I suppose this one is neither an argument for or against stripping)
  • Plucking out the old hair stimulates the dogs’ skin and allows for new hairs to grow in.  The wire coat will come back, which is especially advantageous for people who like the wire coat on their dogs.
  • For dogs who have a particular breed look, stripping accomplishes that look easily and naturally, whereas shaving requires you to form that look.
  • Stripping is a considerably more time-consuming method.  If you’re doing it yourself, you can do it with your fingers or a stripping knife, and you don’t have to do it all at once (called rolling stripping), you can do it as hairs start to look scraggly. 
  • If you’re hiring a groomer to do the stripping, it costs a lot more… some sites said up to twice as much as a shave would cost.  Gwynn’s shaving+bath+ear cleaning+nail clipping would have cost about $65 CAD… his stripping+everything else+ a bit of shaving in sensitive regions was $100. 

Check out these sites for a bit more info about the process:

What did Gwynn get done?  He got most of his body, most of his rear legs, his tail and his head stripped.  She used the clippers on his stomach and on a large part of his legs because those areas are a lot more sensitive, and he wasn’t happy having his legs stripped.  She shaved his armpits and around his private bits, and cut down the hair between his toes.

Oh wait… you want to see pictures?  Well… ok.  Cue Music!

I do my little walk on the GRASS, yeah on the GRASS

I shake my little tail on the PA-ATH, on the PA-ATH!

Yup… I was being irrational and silly to think that he might actually not look cute anymore!  It is like the groomer took 10 months off his life (which is alot for a 14 month old dog!)… he looks like he hasn’t grown out his puppy fur yet, and it feels like puppy fur.