Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cleaning, fur, and dogs

I finally finished cleaning the house today. All that is left is to wash a couple of floors and I'm done for the nonce. You know it's getting bad when cleaning the house is the exciting news of the day. My wife and son are up in the mountains, so it's just Molly and I here at the house. Molly doesn't say one whole heck of a lot so I am left to talk to myself. I figure as long as I don't answer myself I must still be sane. At least Molly puts her head on my leg and looks at me with big brown eyes as if to say "why are you lonely and sad, you haven't rubbed my head and belly eight billion times yet today?"

Molly is a Border Collie mix with long silky hair. Unfortunately, that means that she sheds year round in varying amounts. Nothing like dog fur in tufts and piles all over the house to make it clear it is time to clean. Dust devils on steroids is what I call them.  At least Molly has slowed down in her shedding as compared to summer now. During the summer, vacuuming the house would yield at least 2 cannisters of Molly fur. Now that it has cooled a bit outside, vacuuming only yields 3/4 of a cannister of Molly fur.  Long silky hair that sheds all the time is a characteristic of the breed. If she wasn't a stray adopted from the humane society, we would probably have looked for a short haired dog like all our previous pets. It is amazing to me that anyone could abandon a puppy down by the river to become coyote food. It is just fortunate that my colleagues of the local humane society found Molly before the coyotes.

That makes me think of the dogs we have been fortunate enough to have in our life through the years. In our married life, my wife and I have had three dogs. What is amazing is that all three have been very different in breed and behavior, yet they were all affection hounds. We haven't had a dog that wasn't up for getting rubbed and petted.

Our first dog was the very first pet that my wife had ever owned. Her mother and brother both suffered from asthma as she was growing up, so it was a pet free household. We journeyed to the Los Angeles dog pound and picked out the dog that looked like it needed us the most. The result was a Staffordshire Terrier mix we named Sam (short for Samantha since she was female). It was good that we really wanted Sam because Sam was a tough dog to get through puppy hood. We should have taken the hint when we brought her home that first night and put her in the tile floored kitchen with a plywood barrier to keep her there so she wouldn't poop on the carpet. Of course once we went to bed, she jumped over the barrier and pooped on the carpet, then hopped back into the kitchen to sleep. She devoured an entire wooded doghouse while teething and we spent weeks waiting for her to die from internal splinters. She just grinned and continued on, eating all of our rose bushes for desert. Sam was with us for a number of years until she suffered from arthritis and calcification  in the spine that left her paralyzed from the waist down. It was very hard for me to drive to the vet's to have Sam put to sleep. You know it is for the best, but it still feels like betrayal of a friend.

Our second dog was actually given to our son when he was a youngster. Some employees called grandma to bring our son down to work, introduced him to the dog, and then suggested that he ask us if he could keep him. Two guesses as to any possibility of us saying no. Thus we became the proud owners of King Beauregard III (Beau for short), a pedigreed Basset Hound. Beau was the first scent hound we ever had. If Beau couldn't smell it, he wasn't interested. No looking out the windows and getting excited, unless the window was open and Beau could smell something. Beau was also the first dog we had that was not very intelligent. Bassets are not noted for being trainable and Beau fit the mold perfectly. Beau was sneaky rather than devious or conniving. You could always spot when Beau had been sitting in the rocker, because he would hop out when you came into the room, but didn't connect the moving chair with us knowing he was doing something he shouldn't be doing. Beau was with us until he died of old age.

Our third and current dog is Molly. Beau had been gone for a while and we weren't sure we were ready to get another dog yet. Beau's passing was unexpectedly hard on our son. It hadn't been obvious how bonded they had been until Beau was gone. As a founding member of the local humane society and a member of the board, my colleagues knew that we were still thinking about a new dog when Molly was found as an abandoned puppy down by the river. The people of the humane society thought Molly would be perfect for us. It didn't take much to convince us. So we became the proud owners of a Border Collie mix. What a change! Molly is extremely intelligent, much more so than any other dog we have had. She has a large vocabulary of words and commands she understands. She is also a visual hound. If she can see it, it is important to her. Thus she looks out the windows all the time. She is of a breed that has a need to herd. Thus she will attempt to herd about anything: crickets, toads, birds, squirrels, you name it. There is nothing funnier that watching her keep five or six crickets within a small circle on the back patio. Unless it is watching her trying to leap into the air high enough to herd the squirrels running on the telephone wires. Of course the squirrels are not immune to teasing Molly either. They will sit on the wire and watch her run back and forth, trying to herd them. About the time she finally calms down and gives up, they'll let her lay down looking up at them and then throw a pine cone at her. That starts the game all over again.

Of course my mind in its peculiar way wanders off into the land of the odd at every chance. So when I see all the dog fur, it makes me wonder if our ancestors, when they first domesticated dogs, did anything with all the fur. Probably not, but it does leave me a bit curious. Can't you picture a woven dog fur coat? Time to give it up before my mind goes completely off the deep end.


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