It is finally spring here in the Pacific Northwest, and that means all the double-coated animals in the house are shedding copiously.
This seems to be a banner shedding year for the dog. I don't remember her ever shedding so much at once. Does this mean that it was a hard winter, or that it will be a hot summer? Every time she rolls over while playing she leaves tufts of fur on the carpet. I brush and brush and brush and the fur keeps coming. I'd been brushing her back and flanks every day and pulling out big handfuls of soft, downy undercoat each time, and she was still leaving tufts of fur around. Then I turned her over the other day and brushed just her chest and got enough fur to make a whole other dog.
(Have you noticed that "enough to make a whole other animal" is the standard unit of measure for hair? It's universal. Last week Big A had to clean out Bess's shower drain -- the tubs the girls use must be cleaned out quarterly -- and he noted that he pulled enough long black hair out of the drain "to make a whole cat." Google "whole other dog/cat" and you'll find all sorts of people proudly posting pictures of enormous furballs they've combed off their pets.)
I've learned that this massive shedding of furry undercoat is called "blowing coat," which is a fabulous phrase. Every few days I have to sweep up airy black drifts that accumulate along the baseboards. The undercoat seems to just let go of its follicles and falls out in downy clumps like fluff off a dandelion -- unless you don't comb it out promptly, in which case it sort of felts and turns into flat matted dreadlocks. This isn't as much of a problem with dogs, who mostly don't mind being brushed, as it is for cats. I had a cranky Persian cat once who had to be put under anesthesia and shaved periodically because there was no other way to deal with her mats without losing a hand.
At the same time that we have black fur drifts inside, the cottonwood is blooming outside. The trees are blowing coat. The air is full of white snowflakes flying the cottonwood seeds away from their parent trees. When the season is at its peak, the ground will be white, the drainage ditches clogged with billows of fluff.
I feel like I'm living inside a feather pillow these days. Who knows what I'm breathing in while I sleep. I think I need to hack up a hairball.
But still I'm glad it's spring.