Help! I need a cure for the hair of the dog. And no, I’m not talking about alcohol, hangovers or even wild parties. I am literally talking about the hair of the dog, the dog in question being Gus.
I received a lot of positive feedback when I wrote the column, “This Grandma is gaga over her granddog, Gus,” and I am still gaga over the big old fellow (80 lbs. and on a diet), but I am not gaga over the hair he leaves behind. You may remember that I mentioned neither hub-Russ nor I cared to own a dog in thirty-one years of marriage — hey, we TRIED twice to be pet owners, we failed miserably. But when your daughter falls in love with a man who owns a dog, well, then everyone loves the man AND the dog. Right?
When our daughter, Katie, marries Michael in October, they will move into a new home whereupon they will make a comfy abode with Gus. But for now, Katie lives with us and is finishing up her second year of nursing school. Michael and Gus visit a lot and we love having them! Our granddaughters, Madison, 10 and Carly, 6, especially love playing with Gus when they come visit us from Raleigh. We play such fun games with Gus, including catch the popcorn in your mouth when I throw it. Keep the tennis ball firmly in your mouth (Gus’s mouth) and I will try to pull it out — I ALWAYS lose at that one! Tug of war with the myriad of rope toys we have here is also quite popular.
Like most good pet families, we have him do tricks for his treats: “sit,” “lay down,” “shake — or paw.” I think his personal favorite is “hide and go seek.” More times than not, Gus hides when Michael tells him it’s time to go home. Sometimes Gus pretends he is asleep. Sometimes he gets his wish and gets to stay overnight. Smart fella! The funniest thing he ever did was try to hide behind Katie when Michael called him, as if he couldn’t be seen! One final call from Michael, who by now was amused, but also quite perturbed, caused Gus to smugly turn his head in the opposite direction.
He’s very good on commands, but there is no way to enforce, “stop shedding!” You might wonder why he is up on our sofa in the first place. That’s a good question. The truth is we didn’t meet Gus until he was about seven months old and he’d already been allowed to JUMP up on the sofa at his home. He didn’t know any better, I guess you could say. And yes, it’s a tight squeeze with the bare minimum of Katie, Michael and Gus on our sofa, and we have an oversized sofa! Alas, sigh! It’s true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
But back to the hair: I do have a special beach towel that I put on the sofa when Gus comes over, so that helps keep the hair-flying to a minimum, but not totally. Though he is short-haired and blond, when he sheds, the coarse, light stubbles show up on my red cotton sofa almost neon-like. Because I am a fastidious housekeeper (okay, that’s a stretch) and I like to keep things tidy (a little white lie), the hair drives me crazy! At any rate, I can’t remove it unless I use a really stiff broom or the vacuum cleaner. Even after doing that, I have to shake the huge cushions (after having already shaken the beach towel) and then I feel like the hair is all over me. Ack! How do other people handle this?
I’ve learned not to wear black when Gus comes over, or if I do, use the lint roller before I leave the house. But other than his shedding, Gus is the perfect dog. He almost never barks (except when he wants to play with other dogs) and he is cuddly, lovable and friendly. Russell has even become pretty attached to Gus, calling out, “Hey, Gussie!” when he comes through the door and Gus is wagging his tail and licking him. After dinner, we all settle on the couch and watch the hair fly. It’s Gus’s second favorite activity next to “hide and go seek.”