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It's A Dog's Life: March Column

Still sporting a thick winter overcoat, Teddy contemplates a trip to the doggy salon for some spring cleaning and grooming, as his human interpreter Helen Stockton explains

I don’t know what March means to you, but for me it’s a time for watching Crufts on the TV. This involves barking at any dogs I take an arbitrary dislike too, admiring all the effort that goes into agility, flyball and heelwork to music, ideally from resting in my bed, and gazing in fascination at all those fancy fur-dos that the elite of the canine world are sporting, in an effort to get the top prize.

‘Her Indoors’ has been to Crufts a few times but she’s never won anything! We’ve not been, but then we are not show dogs and our response to commands is firmly based on the self-interest principle of what’s in it for us. However, I gather the Border Terriers who grace the arena have model like physiques and are beautifully coifed, something neither myself or the apprentice can lay claim to at the moment.

Border Terriers have a double coat, a soft, fluffy undercoat like a nice, warm vest, and a harsh over coat as a sort of practical anorak. The thickness of coat varies between individual dogs. My predecessor, Rolo, had a relatively fine coat which ‘Her Indoors’ used to sort out herself with a few basic tools, and a bag of treats, to buy compliance. When she got me, however, she was faced with a different challenge. I channel my inner Ewok and grow a coat of substantial proportions, so every four months I go to visit Nicky the groomer. She sorts me out through a process called hand-stripping, although I wouldn’t advise putting that term in your search engine out of idle curiosity, unless you want a well-endowed foreign girlfriend. Hand-stripping, in this context, involves gently pulling the dead fur out, which together with a bit of trimming and a good shampoo and set, reduces me to about half the size. 

The apprentice, Bear, has a lighter coat than me, but she comes along to the groomer’s too and gets hers done at the same time. Bear struggles with standing still for any duration longer than a few seconds, so Nicky has to work quickly. She also has to avoid speaking to Bear as she tends to wriggle and squiggle when spoken to which isn’t conducive to the beautifying process. Apparently, it’s like trying to groom an eel. I didn’t know eels had to endure this process too but then what do I know, I’m just a dog.