Nothing could have prepared me for the dog hair. Blonde Labrador retriever dog hair. It is everywhere. We had a cat once: a cute, long-haired, nasty, spitting tabby that shed like it was an Olympic sport, but this . . . this is something for the folks at Guinness. Not the beer people— the longest, shortest, fastest and hairiest record keeper people. I knew she would have to be walked, fed and cared for, but the hair! The hair doesn’t just fall off her and lay on the floor either, although some of it does, but just to tease you. It lays there on the floor like the symptom of a disease. The majority of the hair acts like a virus, though, and is carried by the gentlest of household air currents, upward to swirl and orbit, (f)lying somewhat dormant in the host, until you have vacuumed the hallway. Then it strikes, silently, just before the guests arrive in their black pants and black sweaters. Vacuuming was just treating the symptom. I had to go to the source of the trouble.
I bought a brush.
And not the run of the mill brush. I bought a high-tech brush that removes all the hair that’s meant to be removed: the undercoat, the fine hair, the biggest offender. I tried brushing her in the house once. Mistake. I had to immediately change the furnace filter. So, now we go outside. She loves it. She sits on the front step and watches the world go by while I dethatch her. The amount of hair that comes off her is truly satisfying. I bring a plastic bag with me because I find the volume of hair that I harvest is a bit embarrassing. I wasn’t embarrassed at first, but the people that walk by the house while I am engaged in the shearing seem to gawp and stare, and I swear the people walking their shed-proof frankenpooches, like labradoodles, schnoodles, and shih tzus, snigger at us. It doesn’t matter, I am making great headway. She half-closes her eyes as I pull the brush over her, and smiles.
Brushing her is an exercise in futility.
She is a fur factory. As soon as we walk back into the house, I can see the hair begin to accumulate around her on the floor. Then, as if the act of brushing her has caused her some discomfort, she gives herself a good shake, and like Pig Pen in the old Peanuts comic, a cloud of blonde hair is raised and slowly descends to her paws. She smiles up at me again. I’ll vacuum it up later: once it has all settled. Right. Until then, I’ll relax on the couch, maybe close my eyes for a few minutes. As soon as I do, she is up there with me, jostling and fussing, until she has jammed herself into what she feels is a comfortable spot. If you’ve never snoozed on a couch with a Lab, you haven’t lived. And just as I close my eyes again, I realize — I’m wearing my black pants and my black sweater.