06 September 2014


We once owned a remarkable dog of impressive hairiness whom we acquired as a puppy when on holiday north of Inverness. His mother was a cross between an Old English Sheepdog and a cocker spaniel. His father went undetected but was able to clear a six foot fence to get his evil way with our dog’s mother. He was an apparently large white and black animal who, at his most hairy approximated to an almost spherical form. Within the hairy mass the dog was actually quite slight and whippet-like but possessed of a vigour like no other dog.
PapillonWebHis hair did not fall out. It grew endlessly like the fleece of a sheep. In itself, this would merely have proved inconvenient, but our dog was of a firm mind not to cooperate when it came to the matter of hair clipping. Normally, a placid creature, who could be entrusted with small children (although not with dogs), even allowing children to ride on his back. He would become a fury with a snarl that would have made a wolf envious whenever he sensed scissors.
It was with trepidation that we watched his hair grow day by day. In the end, measures had to be taken to allow him to see the outside world from within his hair not least for reasons of hygiene and odour.
On one occasion when the fateful day had literally grown upon us, I employed what I thought would be a cunningly effective way of restraining him. I reversed the car to within a ‘dog length’ gap from the towing hitch of our caravan and with great stealth tethered the (at this point) calm dog such that he was strung between the towing hitch of the caravan and the tow-bar of the car. His anterior end was attached to the caravan and his posterior end to the car. With his formidable dentition thus facing the caravan I crept off for the scissors to attempt the removal of hair. Unfortunately he had developed a form of telepathy when it came to scissors and as I approached he became tense and alert. The closer I got, the more he writhed and snarled and the more his flashing canines rent the air. Before I had managed to remove a single hair it was evident, that by virtue of his thrashings, he would strangle himself. There was no option but to abandon the attempt. The scissors were returned whence they came and the now quiescent dog was released.
Our only recourse was to take him to the vet where we tentatively suggested that a general anaesthetic might be necessary to cut his hair. The vet was sceptical, but our dog persuaded him and to the end of his days he had a general anaesthetic every time he needed to have his hair cut. Fortunately the dog was of the most robust possible constitution and lived to a ripe old age.

 

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