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Clipper Experiments: A Tail in Two Parts

Poor Dog. Subjected to my most ambitious experiments, she still falls for the old line, "C'mon, Honey, it'll be FUN!" Grooming the Dog and Fun do not belong in the same sentence together. This is a fact.

I bought some handy Oster clippers at the pet store a while back. Even while I stood waiting my turn at the cash register, I could hear Honey's tiny little scream in the back of my head . . . "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" But I did not listen. I forged ahead. Do you have any idea what it costs to get a dog like that groomed? She's half Chow, half Golden Retriever, with the chow's thick fur.

I am not a fan of instructions. I will read instructions if absolutely necessary, if forced to, but in most cases I will just learn on-the-job. This can be hazardous for certain tasks. Like electrical wiring, perhaps, which is why I don't do any of that. So I read enough of the instructions to get a comb thingie attached to the clippers, oiling them first.

Honey is not a big fan of buzzing objects. I don't know why this is. Perhaps she was scared by a loud buzzing object when she was a puppy. Maybe it's just annoying. Maybe the sight of me holding a buzzing object strikes terror into her little canine heart. I don't know. But she will cooperate somewhat, as long as I concentrate on the areas she wants me to concentrate on, and avoid the areas she wants me to avoid. I, however, do not believe in humoring her in this way. What? You don't want me to clip around your butt? Okay, that's where I want to then. You don't want to lose all that fur around your neck? Okay, off with it!

Every so often, or more frequently, she'll get up and wander off in a vain attempt to avoid the clippers. Since we're on a small deck and she can't escape back into the house, I just move closer to her. It's very aggravating to her, I'm sure, but we're really not there for her amusement, but for mine, so I don't care. She'll sit, or lay, and as I gently run the clippers through her fur, with tufts of it falling here and there, I can see her sighing to herself. It is a trial. But I am having fun! There is fur falling off in piles!

I do not read the instructions, nor do I have any training in this sort of activity. That is obvious from what is occurring with the poor dog. A portion of a back leg is clipped, so the fur there is white. A centimeter away, the fur is not clipped, so it long and golden. Her ruff is the same. It is not my fault. She was sitting quietly for a couple of minutes so I experimented with the ruff. I have discovered that when my dog's excessive ruff is reduced, she looks fatter. Let this be a lesson to us all: want to look thinner? Get more hair around an already fat neck.

I have been told that when I have worked on my dog it is embarrassing for her as the other dogs will point and laugh, but I don't think this is true. I don't think dogs CARE what they look like, and I don't think other dogs are that interested in what other dogs look like as much as they're interested in what they smell like. And my dog smells good. Well, she smells like a dog, but she's fine with that.

After being "groomed" rather haphazardly for awhile, Honey develops a new trick. She stands and she gets right up next to me. Since I'm sitting on my crossed legs, she's as big as I am, and she stands as close to me as she can get. A solid immoveable object jammed up against me. Awwww, my dog loves me! Well, yes, of course she does, but that is not the point of this particular exercise. The point of this particular exercise is to make sure I can't use the clippers on her anymore. How can I when she's jammed up next to me? I try pushing her away, but she won't move. She acts as if she doesn't know what's going on. As if she's there just to be close to me, as if she doesn't know what I'm trying to do . . .

The dog is stubborn. I think she gets it from me.

When we finish, it's not because we're finished, not by any stretch of the imagination. The dog is a patchwork quilt of uneven fur, choppy in some places, long and silky in others. And it's not because, despite the title, I have managed to clip her tale in two. It is because the job, to do properly, would take eight hours straight and I don't have the energy, the stamina, or the will to do so. Frankly, we're not that interested in perfection. That's boring. We're after a unique look, and I think we've achieved that. There is no other dog that looks like this, not once I've finished with her.

She stands alone, a testament to amateurism and on-the-job training. It's the American way.

Monique Young writes humor for a living, when she isn't keeping books or doing taxes. Her dog, Honey, does nothing useful but is fun to watch. She (Monique, not Honey), can be reached at (website currently under construction).

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