Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Cotton pickin' time

Cairo is blowing coat.

Our house is normally a little furry, don't get me wrong. But this past week has been unbelievable. The intake of our A/C system is caked with fluff. There are balls of dog hair drifting around. I pick them up about three times a day, and I can't get them all.

If you run your fingers through the hair on Cairo's sides, you can pull off cotton-ball-sized tufts of undercoat. Neither of us has had a puffy-haired dog before, so we were concerned enough to ask the vet what was going on. It turns out several dog breeds (including chows and their kin) do this coat-blowing thing twice a year, where they slough off their fuzzy undercoat dramatically and quickly. We're supposed to help the process along by brushing him against the grain at least once a day.

While I was talking to the vet, I asked her about another issue. We've noticed that in the areas where Cairo was shaved for his operation, the skin has pigmented black. She said it's pretty common; when you shave an animal, the skin can change color, and sometimes the hair even grows back a different color--for example, a black belly on a white cat after a spaying. Nobody's really sure why. Some people suspect it's a light-related melanin thing.

How odd. Just when you think you understand your fellow mammals, it turns out some of them are a little more closely connected with their hair than we humans would ever think possible.

My inner Science Geek is fascinated by this.