Drama on the Farm: Grooming, the New Contact Sport

Kainan faceIt’s spring at Tails You Win Farm. The trees have brilliant green leaves unfurling. Flowers are bursting into bloom in defiance of our fickle, here-gone-here-again winter. The pasture’s pallet of tan and brown has a beautiful undercoat of soft green pushing upward toward the warming sun.

And speaking of undercoat, we have two Australian cattle dogs, one husky/malamute mix, and one rather large, wooly wolfdog who have now decided it’s safe to shed their excess winter plush.

It starts rather innocently. You notice an odd tuft of fur sticking out of an otherwise smooth coat, so you naively give it a tug. Oh what a tangled web we UNweave when we first start to pluck those irresistible bits of fur. That first little tuft is like finding a thread on the hem of your favorite shirt…you just can’t resist the urge to pull it and then everything unravels.

All. Over. The. House.

I am convinced that the dogs have the ability to control when and where they release the fluff. My yard is not covered with dust-bunnies of canine origin. My living room is carpeted with the stuff.

In an effort to contain the shednado that is overtaking our home, I sat down last night, with brush and trash bag in hand, to hopefully make a significant dent in each dog’s quickly departing winter undercoat.

Dogs love to be brushed. It’s a great way to have some quiet, soothing connection time with your furry friend. The husky/malamute dog rushes to me when she sees that brush come out. She flops to the ground, moaning in anticipatory delight.

The cattle dogs also love to be brushed, though it requires a bit more skill on the part of the brusher because these brushees are moving targets. They wiggle this way, they squirm that way, they roll over. It’s as if they want to be sure you get every spot, but they can’t decide which spot to offer first.

And then there is Kainan, the resident wolfdog.

This is my first shedding season with dear Kainan contributing to the swirling, clinging mess. But the big guy loves attention, he loves it when we pet him and ruffle his impressive coat. Come here, big guy, let’s get you brushed.

I had no way of knowing. I had no time to prepare…to come up with a combat plan.

Combat, you say? YES. Combat.

Kainan did not flop to the ground in a comatose state as his husky mix friend did. He did not squirm from side to side in delight, as the cow dogs did.

He saw it as a contact sport.

A really, really, did-I-mention really fun, rowdy contact sport called “grab the brush.”

I brush down the right side of his back, he spins and lunges for the brush—eyes glowing with mischief, ears pricked forward, body swinging in playful joy. I brush down the left side of his body, he swings for the brush. I quickly realize that I can’t sit comfortably to brush Kainan.

I’m up on my feet, in warrior groomer pose. Game on, big man.

I spin, and swipe the brush down his chest. He rears up and fakes right, then goes left to grab my retreating hand and brush, but AH HA! There is a huge wad of hair in the brush.

Point to the human.

I swing left, dodging his next advance and manage to swipe the brush down Kainan’s right thigh. He whips around and grabs the brush, running a few feet away to drop his chest to the ground, his butt still high in the air with waving tail, brush clamped in his grinning mouth.

Aurgh…he got the brush AND landed in a perfect play posture.  Two points to the wolfdog.

This dance went on for about 10 minutes until I finally whisked the soon-to-be-doomed brush away to safety on a shelf that I believe to be out of reach of the beast. I believe. Maybe. Well, we can hope. For the sake of the brush, we can hope.

Memories of less fortunate television remote controls flash through my mind. I offer a moment of silence.

We may have a little work to do on the “accepts grooming calmly” front, but honestly, I wouldn’t trade the hilarity of the failed attempt for anything.

Cinder and Kaine

Kainan playing with foster dog, Cinder. It’s play. I promise!

Just eight months ago Kainan came to us weighing only 38 pounds. He could barely walk ten steps before he needed to lie down for a rest. He was beyond weak. He was emaciated. In hindsite, I truly believe he was days away from death.

But he always had a little sparkle in his eye.

Today this boy weighs 110 pounds. He is healthy. He is very happy. And so are we.

The sparkle in his eye is now a full fledged gleam.

Grooming be damned. Surrender to the spring shed. Throw the hair up in the air like confetti.

Party on, Kainan.

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