a girl, a guy, a tomato, a bean, and a bear

Friday, April 10, 2009

Puli love

Today is Day 3.

Of what, you ask? Puli grooming, of course! Yes, that's right, without aid from another adult, it takes about 3 days to adequately groom Chokydar. Let me just say from the beginning that Chokydar LOVES being groomed. Without her cooperation (more like ecstasy), the process would be WAY less enjoyable.

I knew it was time for a bath because Chokydar had begun to get on my nerves. When she is dirty and unkept, it is hard for me to be as cuddly with her--I know, that's awful of me, but it's true. So when her craziness starts overbalancing her cuteness, into the tub she goes. Not a bad philosophy I guess, really--to shower more love when you feel less inclined to do so.

Day 1 is the Initial Cut. Chokydar comes and sits (then lies when she gets tired) in front of me and I snip away. I think I've secretly harbored a desire to be a hairdresser since childhood; few of my dolls or stuffed animals escaped the occasional trim (much to my mother's dismay). It's cathartic for me to cut Choky's hair, and feels almost like a creative outlet--like I'm designing her new do. Once I start, it's hard to stop. It's quite addicting. Even though she loves it, she usually tires of sitting still before I do, although once I stop I realize that I'm usually exhausted and a bit sore. Thus, I wait until Day 2 for the next phase because my time and engergy is now gone.

Day 2 is The Bath. I must conduct The Bath in the first half of the day, or early afternoon, because even though I will blow dry Chokydar, she doesn't dry completely and needs time to finish air drying, unless you want to sleep with a damp sweater in the bed. Choky bathes in the bathtub. Her collar comes off (we call this look the Wild Puli) and she seems to sense the freedom of it all. I lift her in the tub (UGH, she's heavy) and off we go. Her fur is really quite unique--the best way I can the process is like washing a REALLY thick sweater by hand. Her fur is sooooo dense and resists absorbing the water at first, it takes a while just to get it all saturated. Then you soap her up and rinse really good. Then rinse again. Then rinse again. Then again. I've read some puli authorities recommend against using soap because it can irritate the skin if not rinsed properly, but to me she smells like an old shoe if she doesn't get shampooed, so I just make SURE I get all the soap out. Once I've rinsed her about a dozen times I start wringing her out, again, just like a sweater (only she's not as twisty). I go top to bottom, squeezing out all the excess moisture. Then she "helps" by shaking herself. Any part of me that was dry until now is no longer so.

Choky gets out of the tub at this point and I first towel dry her. No matter how much wringing I've done, she still is sopping wet. I usually go through 2 or 3 towels absorbing the excess water. Now comes the real fun--the hair dryer. Choky was a bit nervous about the hair dryer as a puppy, but has become accustomed to it, and now REALLY enjoys this aspect of The Grooming. I sit on the bathroom rug and she rolls around on the floor in front of me, digging her nose into the ground and grunting happily. She rolls back and forth with glee and occasionally hops up to trot around and shake herself off again (yes, usually water STILL flies). More blow drying. This goes on for at least 10-15 minutes. Even when you THINK you've dried her enough, you haven't.

Now comes the tricky part. Pre-Evelyn, this was Choky's favorite part of being clean: Revelling in her clean-ness. She would streak around the house (as the Wild Puli), running, barking, frolicking with glee, bouncing off the furniture like Donald O'Connor from "Make 'Em Laugh" in Singin' in the Rain. Now, however, the whole reason we've been able to do the bath is because Evie has been ASLEEP, so ideally Chokydar needs to be QUIET. She's such a good dog. She tries so hard to cooperate. It's pretty adorable watching her do the "silent" version of her glee dance.

And that brings us to today: Day 3. Really, it's mostly over, but to do the job right I must do a follow up cut. After her bath there are stray tufts to be trimmed that I missed the first time around and also, I'm much more willing to trim the fur around her butt now that she's clean (I know, Puli TMI). Again, Choky is happy to cooperate, until I actually start trimming near her tail. I think she's afraid I will mistakenly cut it off, and she's constantly looking over her shoulder, her gaze bouncing between it and me imploringly. In my mind, I imagine that pulik must be like C.S. Lewis's Reepacheep, "A tail is the honor and glory of a [puli]!"

For your further reading pleasure, check out this awesome article, The Incredible Puli. I fell in love with the breed before we ever got one, and although it took some convincing for Justin to be excited about getting a puli, he tells me all the time now how glad he is that we have one. The article is so great--I especially like the parts about a puli's preference for NPR, and the description of a puli as a "black tornado."

I'm going to go hug my puli now. :)


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