Arts & Leisure

Animal families: Roxie gets a doggie haircut

BEFORE: Our 30-pound goldendoodle added so much hair that she looked grossly overweight, but the groomer was closed during the pandemic lockdown.

We were told that one of the many benefits of having a miniature goldendoodle dog is they don’t shed. It was nice to know Roxie wouldn’t emulate our other two dogs, Bertha and Libby, who can virtually manufacture a carpet of their own after laying on the hardwood floor for just a couple of hours during the summer.
But what we’re saving on brooms and vacuum cleaners, we’re spending on doggie haircuts. During a “normal” year, we can count on taking Roxie to the groomer’s around five times. Well, we decided to buck the trend late last fall. We thought we’d give Roxie (and our pocketbooks) a little break for the winter. We figured she’d need all the hair she could sprout to insulate her for what would be her first Vermont winter, when each potty walk could produce icicles on her under-carriage.
It worked out fine for the first few months. Roxie’s hair grew steadily, but it actually looked good on her. The little muppet would prance around to the delight of passersby. People loved to run their fingers through her luxurious golden curls.
But eventually, she transformed from adorable ragamuffin to an unkempt wildebeest. Her hair began to mat, to the point she was threatening to grow some dreadlocks.
So in early March, we resolved to book a date at the groomer’s. But we didn’t act quickly enough. Mid-March brought the coronavirus. While liquor stores were deemed an “essential service,” dog groomers didn’t make the cut. So Roxie appeared condemned to set some kind of record for “doodle with the longest hair.”
The “oohs,” and “aahs” turned into chuckles. Friends began asking if we’d been feeding Roxie a little extra. And when they said “a little extra,” they implied we might be dropping her into the supermarket dumpster at the end of each day.
Indeed, Roxie looked like she was putting on the poundage, though she maintained a consistent 30 pounds. I wish I had a dollar for every time I told inquisitors that her extra baggage was all hair. “Wait until she gets a haircut,” I’d say. “You won’t even recognize her.”
Our son, who loves Roxie, joined the growing chorus of those who playfully chided the mega-doodle.
“Is she pregnant?”
“What are you feeding her?”
Then he started texting me photos of Chewbacca, the Stars Wars wookie, when referring to Roxie.
But the worst part is that Roxie began to get uncomfortable adorned with all that hair. Instead of lying next to her humans, she’d pick a spot on the floor, near a door or window. She patiently put up with brushing, as we wanted to prevent snarls. Not wanting to prolong her misery, we went to a hardware store and purchased a pair of “heavy duty” electric clippers. We clearly should have gone with an “industrial strength” brand. Because the heavy-duty clippers “yipped” like a frightened poodle when they encountered Roxie’s dense, curly coat. They were able to clip one in 10 hairs before screaming “no mas.”
Roxie 1, clippers 0.
Finally, in mid-April, groomers (including Roxie’s) got the green light to reopen under special conditions. We booked Roxie for an April 29 appointment. I took the tumbleweed for one last roll in downtown Bristol before delivering her to the groomer. Each of us sporting masks, we made the doodle exchange in her backyard.
The groomer shook her head and said, “Wow.” I wondered to myself if she’d be using a pair of hedge clippers, a weed whacker or a chainsaw. Maybe just a machete one would use to blaze a trail through the Amazon jungle. I knew this job was going to cost us extra.
The groomer texted me about 45 minutes into the job and warned me she was having to shave Roxie a little closer than usual, because of the matting. “No problem,” I replied, “her hair grows real fast.”
About an hour later, I showed up at the groomer’s door. She looked a little flustered and sweaty — and I’m talking about the groomer. She’d earned every penny of what she charged.
Roxie? She looked like a Sphynx — as in, that breed of hairless cat that is super-cute to some, and a little hideous to others. But it was unmistakably Roxie. And she was a lot happier than when I had first brought her in.
Roxie is beginning to look more like herself with each passing day. I just hope the groomer has plenty of blades for her clippers.

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