Saturday, November 5, 2011

Timing is Everything

Loving a German Shepherd means living with hair. Lots of it. This breed sheds twelve months a year, with serious shedding in the spring and late fall. Having a German Shepherd in your life requires developing a close relationship with your vacuum cleaner, and being able to pluck a dog hair off your banana without getting all squeamish about it. This happened last week, by the way, and I should add that I was 60 miles away from home at the time, unaccompanied by dogs. It wasn't just any dog hair, it was a Lady hair. Made me wonder if I carry clouds of dog hairs with me like that Peanuts character Pig-Pen with his clouds of dust.

Recently I discovered the wonders of the Furminator, which removes much of the loose undercoat. This little tool is nothing short of a miracle. One session with the Furminator drastically curtails the amount of hair in the house for several weeks. Only problem, a thorough session with the Furminator just about kills me. A couple hours of grooming the three dogs leaves me feeling like I have just completed a triathlon. I have a friend in Seattle who owns a mobile dog grooming business, and I have recently wondered how on earth she manages to do this work day in and day out. She must be Wonder Woman. I consider myself in pretty decent shape, but still, I ache all over when I finish all three dogs. Forget running or lifting weights - if you want to get fit, groom large dogs for several hours a day.

Then this week, I hit upon the secret, completely by accident. I pulled out the Furminator at a different time of day, and quickly discovered a very different experience. Instead of being frisky or impatient, the dogs were sleepy. The rhythmic back and forth motion of the brush lulled Lady into a peaceful stupor. And Katie, not wanting to miss out on the spa treatment, strategically placed herself nearby so that I would not forget her. That little dog loves to be brushed and pampered.

Instead of having to continually redirect and gently corral Lady as I worked on her, I was able to just relax and brush. When I needed to do the other side, I just flipped her over like a sack of potatoes. It was great! And a funny thing happened... I became just as peaceful and content as they were.

And afterward, I was not sore at all.
Timing is everything.


  1. Woah that's a lot of hair!!! I love brushing them!

  2. I need to check into those things. Tonka is a short-haired dog but holy cow he sheds like crazy! Much more insidious hairs too. At least with Raven she would drop clumps here and there that you could scoop up!

    I believe you could knit yourself a fourth dog with all that fur!

    P.S. (I've been meaning to tell you that I love your new header, all those charming faces!)

  3. "I believe you could knit yourself a fourth dog with all that fur!" - that's hilarious! The comments today had me giggling. I guess it IS quite a pile, now that you mention it. What I don't understand is how I can get that much hair off Lady every time I brush her. Eventually, shouldn't she be bald???

  4. Wow, that much hair could make up at least one whole Oskar, bol. I'm glad you figured out how to make it easier on everyone.

    Nubbin wiggles,

  5. We have a large Furminator for the dogs and a smaller one for the cats. Works great!

    Thanks so much for coming to the reading at Accent on Books!

  6. The Furminator and I are very tight friends. We're in high shed season right now and it's been coming out more and more regularly. I don't have to fight too much with my girls, but it's still a chore nonetheless. As bad as all that at home grooming is, I'm sooo thankful to not dogs that require professional grooming!
    I'm glad you worked out a system - energy and timing is so very important!

  7. Great photo-essay, Brenda. Glad you found a peaceful way to groom the dogs; that makes everything SO much easier, I agree!

    I have yet to try the Furminator as I've heard and read that it breaks guard hairs as well as removing undercoat, but sure sounds like you all are happy with it so I may eventually give it a go. ;-) However, now that I only have two Corgis to groom, and the memories of mega-Collie-coat grooming are behind me, even just regular brushing seems incredibly simple and easy these days. LOL

  8. Thanks Darla, I had not heard that the Furminator breaks guard hairs so had to google it (okay, I will confess to not even knowing the term "guard hair"). What I discovered is that there are lots and lots of people talking about the Furminator online. Some people love it, some hate it. I will say that I didn't like it at first - I found it too much of a mess to use. But I was using it outdoors, and the hair drifted all over the place. As counterintuitive as it may seem to be, I do better using it indoors. And I have discovered that carpet or a rug is better than the hardwood floor. That way, all the hair stays in one place until I'm ready to clean it up. Last time I scooped all the loose tufts of hair into a sack, and then used my Furminator on the rug itself to get the remainder. Worked like a charm, lol!

    I have only been using it about once every 3-4 weeks, so I haven't noticed any damage to the coat itself. I wonder if breakage is more common with frequent use? I'd probably not choose to use a Furminator on an "average" shedding dog, but it works a lot better than a regular brush for Lady. Anyway, it was interesting to read all the commentary online!

    And ForPetsSake - thanks for reminding me that I could have three dogs that require professional grooming!! Had not even considered that... yes, that is definitely something to be grateful for.

  9. I used to furminate Molly all.the.time. It's no joke that they shed all the time! The furminator was the best dog brush/comb I ever found though. It was always funny because Melanie liked to be "furminated" too. Obviously her super-short pittie fur didn't really need it, but she loved having the comb just gently stroked over her. Weirdo dog ;)

  10. That really is a huge amount of hair. At least hair pulled out by the furminator isn't hair left all over the house.