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The intrepid hunter has brushes with greatness

The other day I asked Jenn if she had any thoughts on the best methods for removing burrs and other clingy vegetation from long ear hair.

She suggested I wouldn’t have that problem if I just trimmed them more often.

It was a good answer, but I was asking for the dog.

If you own a bird dog, you probably understand.

That’s because at the end of any hunt, the typical bird dog comes in with enough vegetation to restock a large seed library. Most of it is buried and tangled in their ears and tails.

It’s no wonder, either. A good bird dog will shimmy though places filled with so many burrs, thorny canes and stickers that it is a wonder they come out the other side.  In fact, I have often thought that if I attached a Velcro strip in the back seat of my car, I wouldn’t need to put a seatbelt harness on the dog for the ride home.

As a result, after every outing with your dog, a hunter must spend at good deal of time brushing out both ends of the dog – and sometimes, if it has hunted through particularly thick cover, you’re not sure which end is which.

To be honest, I spend more time brushing my dog’s hair than I do my own. And it shows.

This is fraught with peril. When you spend all that time and care brushing out your dog’s hair, you risk the ire of the woman you love. After all, this uncharacteristic activity does not go unnoticed by other members of the family – especially if you ask them how to do braids.

Eventually, they will see how careful, gentle and meticulous you are at brushing out your dog’s ears and tail and they will ask the question that strikes terror into our hearts.

They say, “Can you brush out my hair?”

There is no good answer.

Can you? Certainly you can.

Can you do it without repeatedly patting her on the head and saying, “Who’s a good girl?”

Well, that takes more focus than most of us possess.

Also, no matter how you try to convey it, the woman in your life cannot see that these are two very different things. With one, you are doing it solely out of love to deepen the bonds in the relationship and show gratitude for all the things your partner does for you. With the other, you are just doing it out of necessity, and only because she asked.

Also, your dog forgives you if you pull too hard on a tangle or use scissors to cut out a particularly difficult piece.

It’s no wonder the people you buy hunting dogs from fail to mention this. Otherwise, we would all be looking for breeds with much less hair.

Having said all this, I actually enjoy sitting with my dog after a hunt and making sure that all the stowaways in her coat are removed. And I also like how she appears to enjoy the attention and gentle care given so that she her coat can be mat-free.

The other day Jenn asked me why I do it so diligently.

I told her it was because I didn’t feel it was fair for an innocent creature to have to live with so much irritation.

She then asked if I felt the same about her.

I said yes and spent the next few hours alone in the basement.

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
won't find anywhere else. Stay caught up with The Observer This Week.

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