Let the Fur Fly

When the family dog has a chance encounter with Pepe Le Pew, the results are an unexpected surprise for the other backyard inhabitants.

Luna, our yellow Lab mix, finder of old buried toys and keeper of the backyard got skunked last week. Apparently Pepe Le Pew is living under our shed and while the family was away had an encounter with Old Yeller.

Luna was none the worse for wear and tear, but the rest of the family felt differently so out came the vinegar baths and shampoos for the duration of one warm Saturday afternoon.

After two rounds of scrubbing, most of Pepe’s sprayed scent was gone. I was hoping the lingering aroma was mostly ‘wet dog’ and that it would simply go away once Luna had dried. So, I got out the brush and moved on to the next step in the grooming process.

I didn’t realize I would be getting so much fur, but alas, it was the summer shedding season and so I kept on brushing as long as the fur kept coming out. When all was said and done, I looked around and couldn’t believe how much white fur had come off the dog and was now sticking to the grass area. What a mess.  I didn’t have the time to clean up all the fur, but figured since it wasn’t blowing away in the wind; it would surely be waiting for me whenever I decided to bag it for the trash. This would have to wait.

The next morning as I walked bleary eyed towards the coffee maker, I looked out into the back yard and thought the area where I had left Luna’s fur was lighter, smaller, less dense. I figured I must not be awake yet, because the abundant tufts of fur weren’t blowing away yesterday, and we hadn’t had a storm the night before.

I poured my coveted cup of coffee with hazelnut flavored Coffee-Mate, and sat on the sun porch to enjoy the warmth of the sun on my back. Sipping my coffee, I looked around the backyard admiring the tall trees that I have missed so much living in New Mexico, our little vegetable garden, and the sounds of birds chirping and fluttering about.

About this time, I noticed the little sparrows were congregating in one particular area of the yard; the exact area where I brushed the dog the day before. As I watched, I realized what was happening; the birds were hopping around this 3 foot section, plucking Luna fur from the grass. They looked as if they all had cotton balls at the end of their beaks. I watched them gather as much fur as possible then quickly flying back to the trees to continue construction on the warmest nests these lucky birds would ever have in their lives.

All I could think of was my favorite childhood book, No Roses for Harry. A fictional book from the Harry the Dirty Dog series, where a bird steals a stray yarn from Harry’s knitted dog sweater and uses it to make a nest in the tree that looks identical to the sweater. Who would have ever thought one of my favorite stories I first discovered in 1966 in Michigan would play itself out in real life 46 years later in Westlake, Ohio? Yes, another example of life imitating art.

I now realize I have a commodity here that is in high demand. I’m just wondering when the leaves fall, will I see trees full of white Luna fur nests? Where’s that dog brush?

Quote of the Week: ‘I see a nest, it’s made of wool, and it’s the very same color as Harry’s sweater.” – No Roses for Harry, by Gene Zion.

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