Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shedding Some Light ...

He's shedding some light, blond fur. I just brushed my golden retriever. Although only an ounce or so of fur was collected, he looks ten pounds lighter. He's shedding so much I think more dog was in the wastebasket than was left standing on four paws in my basement. As I stroked his fur whole tufts of fluff floated off his body and drifted across the floor. I waved my brush at the escaping clouds, trying to catch them on the bristles, but that only sped them faster in flight. Every half minute or so I had to stop brushing to clean the wad of fur off the brush.

I can always tell when he needs brushing. He looks scruffy and his coat is uneven. Little cirrus clouds peek out from his tawny hide, waiting to slip off after the floor has been vacuumed. You can figure out where he is in the house by following his downy trail. Dust bunnies of fur have become dust sheep--whole herds wandering around the drafty floor. You sweep them up and an hour later new ones appear, timidly at first, and then a stampede of fluff begins. The whole floor appears in motion.

What is amazing to me is that he has golden brown fur, but everything that is brushed out is blond. It's all the stuff underneath--thick, cottony and dense--not like the coarse long hair on top. It takes some effort to soak this animal to the skin because of the insulating layers. It is also a wonder that it's coming out in July. You'd think he'd shed more in May--but perhaps the heat isn't intense enough then.

I always feel like I've done my dog a great kindness when I brush him. He seems to enjoy it if I let him lie down--but today I made him stand up so I could brush him sitting in a chair instead of sprawling on the floor myself. He felt ashamed somehow, and slunk off to his cage once I let him go. Why was that? While he was shedding a layer, was I shedding some irritation--scolding him silently with a brush for doing something he couldn't help? Were my strokes a little harder than they needed to be? Could I have been gentler? I don't remember being angry or irritated, but my act of kindness was in a spirit of merely getting the job done no matter how. I tell myself, "he's just a dog", but what better place to practice gentleness than with a dumb animal. It is not hard to shed fur. It is hard to shed habits. Being habitually brisk and efficiency-minded might get the job done, but it doesn't convey the intentions behind them.

1 comment:

John Lynch said...

This post is awesome. Your second paragraph brought a very wide smile to my face. This is what blogs were made for: random observations that still manage to enrich their readers' lives.