If you saw our fuzzy white dog, you’d swear he was good for nothing but keeping the end of the couch warm and watching his food bowl. In reality, he’s a sticker patch super hero who aides Mother Nature in her efforts to make sure prickly seed producing plants of all kinds never die out.
Dudley looks and feels like a chenille teddy bear. His mom is a shih tzu and his dad is a mystery who created a much bigger son than one might expect from such a dainty mother. While our pooch carries his father’s oversize frame, Duds has his mom’s silky coat with a few curls and kinks added for effect. He also has hairy soles that would make a hobbit proud. This combination makes him perfect to collect any kind of burr or sticker nature produces.
Even though we keep our pooch groomed, any seed with a sharp projectile point that can tangle in his hair latches on. He comes in from a romp in the woods with burrs woven into his facial hair. Every now and then one manages to migrate to his eyebrows where it twists and turns itself into a tight little horn-like knot. Yesterday, our wily pup came home from a frolic with a big ol’ porcupine egg of a sticker snarled in his ear hairs. His usually soft, floppy ears turned into a finger-ripping weapon when I ran my hand over them. After catching and confining him, we snipped those torture devices loose and sealed them in the trash so effectively they will never have a chance to take root and produce more sticker plants.
Not only does Dudley collect these objects on his face and ears, his body attracts them as well. During the summer, his hair is short enough that he doesn’t gather as many as usual. However, I have to perform a full body pat down regularly to make sure he isn’t packing spiky armor that ends up pulling hair and creating red welts. Every now and then, I find a nettle tucked into his doggy armpit, and he knows it’s scissor time again.
The one area of Dudley’s body allow hair to grow its full length is his tail. That fine, silky mane he inherited from his mom forms a plume waving happy circles behind him as he’s adventuring through bushes and weeds. It’s one of this pup’s charms, but unfortunately, when it’s loaded with burrs, it turns into a weapon as harmful as a medieval mace. When he’s had an abundance of prickly attachments that need to be snipped, that once lovely furry flag looks moth-eaten.
Our pet is lucky to live with folks who regularly check him for tangles and knots caused by hitchhiking seedpods in the form of stickers, burrs, and nettles. Knowing how irritating these can be during the short time our pet suffers, I wonder how beasts in the wild that don’t have anyone to perform the necessary snips and trims keep healthy.