Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Hair of the Dog

This is Jed when we first got him in 2007. AWWWW!

This is Jed last month. EWWWWWW!

Jed is a Great Pyrenees. When we got him, the breeder told us that he had French genetics that made him double coated and that was a desirable thing to have in a Pyr. Genetics didn’t really matter, he was cute and fuzzy and we hoped he would grow up to protect the sheep from harm.

Despite the fact that our neighbor thinks Jed is a “magnificent animal”, he does live outside, his double coat gets matted and dirty, and he generally looks a sight. He is supposed to be a “working dog”, so grooming is not a top priority. The first summer we tried to keep up with the brushing. We brushed and brushed and brushed. Huge piles of white, woolly fur looked like clouds in the yard. Hair was everywhere. That was not a good solution!

We gave him a haircut the next summer. He absolutely hated it, and looked awful afterward. But, he was cool and eventually his fur grew out and he looked somewhat acceptable again.

Last summer, being what last summer was, Jed didn’t get combed, brushed, or clipped. He and Ellie Mae got fed, and that’s about it. When I took him to the vet for some routine visit in the winter, I was made to feel like a “bad dog mother” because he had mats in his fur with burdock seeds in them. An aside here, did you know that the inventor of Velcro got the idea from burdock seeds stuck in his dog’s fur?

As the summer gets hotter, Jed seems more miserable with his furry coat. He also needs his rabies booster, and I’m reluctant to take him to the vet looking like he does.

So….today is the day! The sheep shears are going to do DOG duty!

We (read, I) approached the job with some trepidation. Jed is a complete chicken, or scaredy-cat…can a dog be either one of those? Loud noises terrify him. He has been known to squeeze his entire 100 pound frame into the house through a narrowly opened door to escape the sound of thunder. He doesn’t like to have his tail touched, and forget about getting anywhere near his feet!

Tom thought that by putting Jed on the sheep shearing stand, things might go a little smoother than when we tried to clip him on the ground.
He fought and growled and tried to bite us. He was not at all cooperative that time.

Up on the sheep stand, Jed had to stand still while Tom ran the shears. The noise frightened Jed, so Tom eventually resorted to scissors. While he turned out just a little lumpy, he seems much more comfortable…and not quite as embarrassed as last time.

We got almost as much fur off him as we get wool from a sheep. While I know there are some folks who spin Great Pyrenees fiber, I think we’ll skip that project.

Job well done, Tom!

Jed seems to think his new "hairless" look is MAH-velous!

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