It's a mess in here. It reminds me of the days of raising small children. Specifically, it reminds me of cleaning up after large groups of small children. I thought I was done with post-playgroup horror. You know that feeling you get when you hosted playgroup, and everyone just left, and it's time to clean the room in which the little darlings were contained for two hours of play, snacks and socialization?
Well, today my downstairs looks as if a small army of 3 year-olds have been quartered here for a few hours. Empty food bowls have been rolled from room to room. There are pillows on the floor, surrounded by stuffed animals, rubber noisemakers and amorphous items that defy description. Blankets have been unfolded and reshaped for better napping. Magazine piles have been shifted from end tables to the floor, to facilitate perching at the window for stranger patrol. What few attractive or valuable items we own are placed high in a bookshelf, to avoid breakage or chewing.
But no toddlers live here. Remind me again why I have dogs?
They staged a dog version of extreme wrestling this morning, and needed the contents of my mending pile to demonstrate their manliness, I guess. I kept hoping one of them would take a knitting needle to the haunch and decide to go lick themselves for a while. Alas, no puncture wounds. Just an upended basket of mending strewn through three rooms.
I won't share pictures of the mess, although I'm sure you are wishing I would. I'll just show you the vicious, blood-thirsty beasts, as evidenced by these post-fight photos I snapped:
It wouldn't be so bad if either of these mutts were the least bit useful. Joey, the shih-tzu, does a decent imitation of a foot warmer, but he doesn't work on demand, just when the mood strikes him. Grant, the spaniel mix, would really rather be a carnival hawker or some such. He wants to make first contact with anyone who visits, and barks to passersby, human and dog alike, even if they are quite distant, trying to entice them to come sniff, wrestle and play chase with him.
Like our last 4 dogs, these two were rescue dogs, pedigree guessed at, taken as-is, no returns, no exchanges. We could only guess at their skill-set, or lack thereof, and hope they'd be healthy and easy-going. Well, if by easy-going, I meant they accepted my furniture as good enough for them, I suppose they met that minimum benchmark. Healthy - yes, thank God, they've both been very healthy.
But some days I just wish they could do something practical. My spray bottle of vinegar and Indiana Jones bullwhip are useless when trying to teach them how to put away their toys. Or if they would dig where I need to plant bulbs, that would turn an unpleasant habit into a helpful one. And since they are willing to eat almost anything, why can't I get them to lick up that little pile of debris that is left when I try to sweep the last bit of rubbish into the dustpan? How hard would that be?
But I generally earn a blank stare when I try to communicate anything beyond "treat" or "squirrel!" They usually rest or sleep through my workday, oblivious to all the labor-saving jobs they could be doing, if only they wanted to learn. Like most dogs, a sure-fire way to get their attention is food preparation. When I'm stirring a pot on the stovetop, or chopping at the cutting board, their expressions convey the most sincere desire to be of service, should anything fall and roll out of my reach (like a meatball). But they show no desire to retrieve the out-of-reach wet socks that always seem to dot the floor when I'm transferring laundry. Really, dogs, what's the difference?
No, these dogs don't help much with the chore list. Although they do require their very own page in the to-do list: feed, freshen water, walk, furnish toys, chews, dental treats, vitamins, heartworm and flea preventative, brush, clean up messes...I'm getting bored just typing this. I gave up offering their, um, shall we say, leavings, to composting environmentalists, who would only need to come and collect it from my yard. I'd even furnish the pooper-scooper, bucket and a beer to sweeten the deal. Strangely, no takers. But it's an open-ended offer, folks.
Since I cannot convert their waste to a cash crop, my next idea was their fur. These two dogs shed an impossible amount of fur. I sometimes wonder if they are running a doggie equivalent of an underground railroad in my house. There must be other dogs hiding here, contributing to the fluff piles that blow from room to room. I fancy that Joey, who seems like a heartless, territorial furball, is actually the leader of an altruistic pipeline operation that helps abused dogs reach some better destination. Perhaps when Grant is at the front window, distracting me by barking at the sound of air molecules bumping into each other, Joey is escorting some poor, ungroomed yorkie-poo from a basement hideaway, out the back gate and into the care of the next escort dog. Is that so far-fetched?
Because the quantity of hair that shows up in my dyson canister, almost daily, seems pretty far-fetched too. A ten pound dog shouldn't be shedding 5 pounds of fur a week, right? They'd eventually look like a naked mole rat, at that rate. But that's exactly what I'm dealing with here. And being a waste-not, want-not kind of girl, I would like to get some use out of this bumper crop of fur. Surely, there must be an enterprising weaver, knitter or furrier who needs my extra supply. There are doubtless needy children living on a tundra somewhere who'd be happy to own a parka filled (with love) by dog fur. Every time I throw away a bale of fur, I feel like such a wasteful non-recycler.
But repeated google searches turned up no one who wanted to buy my collection. I was discussing this situation with my friend, who I will only refer to here as Merin Urphy, and she was in agreement that we pet owners should not have to work so hard to clean up after these animals, without some reward for the products yielded. I assured her that, although she has also two dogs, and may be able to understand my predicament, I probably have much more fur to deal with than she does. She contradicted me, which isn't very nice, so I politely suggested we compare our disgusting dustpans one day. This unpleasant idea drove us to drink, and the challenge was temporarily forgotten.
But since I couldn't think of anything else to write about today, I'm going to take that challenge and turn it on it's ear.
(cue Frankie Avalon): Hey, kids, let's have a dog fur contest!
Dog fur rolls around my house like tumbleweeds in Dodge City, so we're calling this the Dog Fur Tumbleweed Contest (Thanks to Merin for the inspirational title). Since I've never held a contest before, and don't know how it's done, there are no rules beyond a request that you play fair. Your dogs, their fur, your house, and no fair making the kids do all the work.
Take a picture of the largest furball you can assemble that will hold it's shape without excessive manipulation or the addition of super-glue, dryer lint, etc. Here is a small sample from one corner in my house, just to give you something to aim for:
I know it's a pretty pitiful effort, but there could only be two reasons why my offering is so small: one, my house is spotless, or two, since it's my contest, I'm ineligible to enter, so I'm not willing to work that hard. I'll leave you in suspense about which reason it is. (And yes, that's my kitchen counter. Don't judge me unless you never changed a diaper on yours...)
Finally, this bark-out is for all the Mollys and Baileys, plus Max, McDuff, Sawyer, Maggie, Ruby, Homer, Gus, Buddy, Peaches, Hank, Casey, Lizzy, and all the other dogs we know and love: Tell your owners to get busy and enter this contest! I'm trying to go viral here!
Email your pictures to : firstname.lastname@example.org
The winner will receive a genuine plastic case for displaying their treasure, a Certificate for Prodigious Time Wasted, and a big lick from Grant.