New beginnings for a winter coat

Apr 4, 2014


You’ve heard the saying, “Looks can be deceiving.” That statement describes our little terrier’s coat. When you see him, he looks like a sleek little pooch who doesn’t shed. That’s true September through February. However, when March blows in, he gives March Madness a new interpretation.

Most folks who meet the winter Buster love to pet his silky fur and rub his soft ears. Let them visit before a spring de-thatching, and they’ll wear Buster home. That little guy sheds like a champ. If there were Olympics for losing winter hair, our pet would win a gold medal.

Once we’re well into summer and he’s down to his hot weather duds, I forget about his ability to fill brush after brush with taupe fluff. Throughout the cold months, I don’t think a thing about Buster’s special talent, but come those first warm days, and I remember he’s a lint brush’s best friend.

As soon as I spy those first filaments separating from follicles, we spend spa time together. I don’t know that he sees getting repeatedly swiped with a grooming glove as pleasurable, but I’m on a mission to capture as much of that loose hair before it gets on me or someone else. He’s a little guy—only 14 pounds, but he fills either the grooming mitt or the wire brush time after time with handfuls of velvety fiber. 

For years, I tossed his winter long johns in the trash as quickly as I gleaned them even though I’d heard of folks who harvest their beloved beasts’ hair and spin it into yarn to use to weave or knit. That seemed over the top even considering how much raw material my little Jack Russell eliminates each year. I figure he’s good for at least a child-size sweater.

During my musings, I read an article about how birds lining their nests with anything downy, including pet hair. Aha, the ultimate repurposing without purchasing a spinning wheel and the accouterments to take up either knitting or weaving.

Learning to upcycle my pooch’s fuzz to improve neighborhood bird real estate changed my attitude about Buster’s spring blessing. Instead of grousing  that his winter growth falls out, I pledge to capture every strand to share with robins, sparrows, wrens, flycatchers, and even starlings. 

The minute I spied loose hairs, I commanded my four-legged buddy to join me and the brush on the deck. It reminded me of vacation advertisement depicting spa treatments on sunny beaches.

Old Sol’s rays beat down to warm the tops of Buster’s and my heads and shoulders while balmy breezes riffled our hair. As I combed my little friend to remove loose fiber, I figured Buster would enjoy this western Kansas version of a tropical beauty treatment. I don’t understand why he kept trying to escape my grip to bark at imaginary invaders.

Spotting Buster’s fuzz lining a bird nest makes those hours grooming him even more worthwhile.  I like to think the coat that warmed him through cold winter days keeps future serenaders toasty and comfy until they fledge.