July 22, 2015
White Dog shook her head at the heap of furs Steve had piled next to him. Nilla was stretched out on the bed, her head in my lap. Steve had the shedding loop and was harvesting huge amounts of undercoat and mats from our still relatively new recruit (hard to believe that it as only been two months).
What was happening was a small miracle of life in the White Dog Army. Our Harmonious Girl who still is VERY skittish about being touched and even more reluctant to be brushed was calmly enjoying losing the tight mats and thick hair, parts of past that still haunted her.
It was clear when she arrived that her circumstances were not simply the arrival of a new baby that prompted her being surrendered to Animal Welfare. She was dirty and had, we think, NEVER been brushed. She screamed in fear the first time Steve gently took her collar and tried to pull the loose tufts from her side.
It has been a process of tiny teeny steps, sometimes only one or two strokes of the brush, many treats, and lots of praise every single day. Slowly she has allowed Steve more and more time to work on her care so that sometimes he can extract a full brush or two.
There are still parts she will not let him touch...like her belly. Progress has been made there in that we can now run our hands under her and stroke her chest, but she gets wideyed at the idea of a brush touching those parts. Early on, we made the decision not to send her to a groomer or subject her to a bath until we got her furs to a good starting point; she deserved to be spared the change of environment, the noise and the forced handling, even though our groomer is VERY good.
Today was the first time we were able to rake out the back of and inner parts of her thigh (just one, she only had patience for Steve to clear out a quarter rump area). Despite its scary sawblade looks the shedding loop is quite gentle (Yo also prefers this tool to just about any other groom brush)...and Steve was applying no pressure. When he hit a matted area, he stopped and slowly worked the hairs apart with his fingers before continuing. Nilla would start at the change, but I kept her focused by talking her through what was happening in a reassuring way...and by sharing treats when things got tense. The difference in that part of coat is wonderful and we are happy that we finally worked out the mat, tight against the inner joint connecting her leg to her body, that we knew had to pull when she ran or jumped.
Nilla is grateful but done. She has gone off to rest and is avoiding both of us. White Dog supervises as Steve gathers an amount of hair that could make a Storm-sized replica and makes sure that he leaves the bed...HER selected nap spot...fur-free.