Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spring - and the Blowing of the Coat

It is finally Spring in the Northern Plains.   Although the calendar identifies the first day of spring as Vernal Equinox, we don't start to see many real signs of the changing season until well into April.    And, although our snow was gone early this year (avoiding a flood!), the second half of April was cold and extremely windy.   So it wasn't particularly pleasant.   The few nice days that we did have, however, fell on the weekends.

So .... what are my favorite signs of spring.    Here are a few:

  • Being able to sleep with the windows open - and better yet, having them open during the day.
  • Replacing the flannel sheets with my cotton percale sheets.
  • Wearing my capris and flip flops (of which I have a ridiculously abundant supply). 
  • Putting out my windmill and wooden tulips. 
  • Tulips!!   (Real ones!)   After years of the rabbits chewing my tulips right down to the stalk, I finally bought some liquid fence.   Putrid stuff (don't spray it on a windy day!) but it really works.   My tulips are really nice this year. 

  • Budding trees.    
  • Seeing the grass turn green, aerating my lawn and mowing for the first time.   ("First time" is significant here, as I am tired of mowing by about the middle of June!) 
  • Spring Cleanup Week .... which means my garage is decluttered and cleaned up.   
  • Curbing and Garage Sales.  OK;  I admit I do not get into either of these activities but I have so many friends that do that I have to include it on my list. 
  • Putting air in my bike tires and going for my first long bike ride.   ("Long" is a relative term.   For me, it means 15-20 miles .... not 40-50!) 
Zak and his new 'best friend' Pauline 

  • And last, but not least, the BLOWING OF THE COAT.  This is not the normal, year-round shedding that most breeds do, but the seasonal shedding that dogs with a heavy, dense, undercoat do.   That downy fur is incredibly soft and wonderful for burying your face in when you cry or for just warming up your lap on a chilly winter day.    The downside is that it changes at least twice - and up to three times a year.    When I got my first corgi, I invested in a high-end vacuum cleaner.    Now I have two - one upstairs and one down.   For anyone who's interested, my favorite brands are Riccar (the Radiance is wonderful) and Miele, a German brand that has expensive parts but some wonderful features including a great swivel mechanism, and is especially good for hardwood and tile floors.    With my first two corgis I had a heavy shedder (Dee Dee) and a not-as-heavy shedder (Princess).  I have the same again. Zak's coat is a bit more coarse and he sheds plenty but nothing like Scarlett!   Oh my goodness ... that girl sheds!!   Spring is definitely the worst time of year, as the undercoat is completely shed in preparation for the warmer days of summer.    I brush every day right now and use several different brushes to get the maximum benefit.   

Zak and his pile (20 minutes worth)

    1. The Zoom Groom (by Kong) is a rubber bristled brush that removes loose dirt, stimulates new hair growth, and gives the coat a nice shine.    My dogs love this one the most as it feels like a massage.   
    2. If you have a heavy shedder, the Furminator is a 'must have'.   You thought you were brushing your dog before??   Spend 5 minutes brushing with one of these and you'll have a pile of hair that's a foot high and a foot wide.  The teeth are heavy steel and it almost feels a bit like a razor, but Scarlett really doesn't mind this one unless I'm working in sensitive areas along her tush or legs.   I would not use this brush on her tummy.  It really is an amazing tool and you DEFINITELY want to be working outside with the wind blowing the tumbleweeds of hair away from you!  If you have an overabundance of rabbits in your neighborhood, you might want to consider furminating at a local park, as the rabbits LOVE the soft, downy fur for building their nests under your deck.  (Nests= more plant-eating nuisance rabbits.) 
    3. My personal favorite (and my go-to brush most days) is the natural boar bristle brush (palm style with wooden base and hand strap.)    This one works almost as well as the Furminator and both Scarlett and Zak love it.  The hair quickly accumulates in the teeth but is easily removed.    It gets a lot of the downy undercoat, but also the loose, longer top coat.    
    4. The two-sided stainless steel shedding blade removes loose hair but the teeth aren't long enough to pull a lot of the undercoat.    I use this as my clean-up brush, or for a quick brushing when we travel and I want to control the hair in the back seat. 
      Scarlett and HER pile  -  about 15 minutes worth of brushing!
 There are many other great brushing tools on the market but these are the four that we use.  

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