Friday, 27 January 2012

Fur Change

Much has been said lately on Facebook, where Edward has been allowed to rant on about his on-going hunger strike and his frustration with excessive grooming and lack of good food. I thought perhaps it was high time for Mum to say a few words about the situation.
First of all, thank you so much for all your kind and good advice, which we have greatly appreciated. Much of it has been very useful to us. Also thank you for all the lovely and funny comments that have given us many a good laugh.

We must of course admit that our lack of experience as dog owners is a handicap to us. We have never owned a dog before, let alone a poodle, but we are firm believers in reading and preparing for all situations, and the number of dog books and dog sites that were combed for information is considerable. So we felt relatively confident when we got Edward. However, these know-it-alls don’t say much about what to do when things don’t go according to plan, do they? “Is the dog a fussy eater? Just be firm, no dog will starve itself.” Oh, really?
And do you know, in all the poodle books we have read, there hasn’t been a single mention of the fur change. Not one! The first we heard about it was at a poodle show, where a woman told us all about the trials she and her 15 months old male had just been through. Everybody else we had spoken to had just told us what a joy it was to have a dog that doesn’t shed.

So here we are in the middle of it. It started just before Christmas, and I am reliably informed it will take around three months. Edward has never been a great fan of grooming, but he has put up with it quite patiently, as he does with his weekly shower. He doesn’t enjoy it, but he seems to have a philosophical attitude towards it. Now however, it’s a struggle, both for us and him.

A proper grooming table is on our wish-list. However, this workbench solution isn’t as bad as it looks. Edward can stand on it quite comfortably but not turn around, which keeps him from moving too much. When we dry him after his bath, he is lying on a towel on the kitchen table.
We have found that a daily brushing is absolutely necessary, and it takes about an hour to get most of the mats out. After much trial and error, we have found that a metal comb is the best instrument for breaking up the mats. We brush him first with a pin brush, and let me say – the gold pin brush from Chris Christensen has been a godsend. It is just so comfortable and effective, and even Edward appears to enjoy it. We spray on diluted conditioner to make the hair more manageable, but to be honest I don’t think it makes much difference. I have heard about a product called Ice on Ice, which is supposed to be very effective, but it isn’t sold here in Norway. However, Edward’s grandparents will bring some over from England when they come to visit us for Easter.

We use DeZynaDogMagic Formula 1st Aid Shampoo, which is supposed to be ideal for coat changing, and follow it up with DeZynaDog Magic Formula Sculpture Rinse.

We then use the metal comb. I have found that a slicing motion cuts through the mats a lot more effectively than normal combing. I try to get a firm grip on Edward’s skin, so that the pulling won’t hurt him too much, but he still finds it very uncomfortable of course. Finally we go through the fur with a rake to remove anything that the comb has loosened. We did try to use a slicker brush, but it just wasn’t doing any good. Something I found strange, because that was highly effective on the cats we used to have before.

The amount of dead fur that comes out is just unbelievable. We save it to see how much it will be in the end, and so far we have a carrier bag full.
So why put Edward through all this stress? Why not just shave him and get it over and done with? Well, we have considered that, but first of all, we found out that short fur mats too. Edward’s sister Frida has very short fur, but when she came to visit us to use our clippers, we found that although her fur felt soft and lovely, we couldn’t get the clippers through it because of the dense matting.
Secondly, Edward has shown some promise as a show dog, and we would like to try a little more to see how well he can do. Edward seems to enjoy being shown quite a lot. He gets loads of attention, and it is a great way to socialise a dog, teaching him how to behave around judges, onlookers and other dogs.
I guess we show our inexperience again by letting Edward behave as an outdoor dog, even if we have show-aspirations. Perhaps this whole grooming business would be a lot easier if we kept him mostly indoors and only allowed very controlled exercise at places where he couldn’t get dirty. However, we see the joy he gets from roaming around in the garden, jumping in the sea and generally behaving as a dog should, and we don’t want to take that away from him.
Now, as to the matter of eating or rather the lack thereof… I think I’ll have to tackle that topic tomorrow or this blog post will become far too long.