The Puppiness Project – The Joy of a Good Haircut

Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.
Golden Retriever close up

Yesterday at the dog park, I was lagging behind the Greyhounds. It must be my long hair that's holding me back.

I love having long hair. When I was five and it got caught in the chain just as I jumped off the swing, I wasn’t so crazy about it. But most of the time, I’ve loved having long(ish) hair.

And I’ve always loved having easy-to-groom dogs. A bath once or twice a year, an occasional brushing, and everyone was good to go.

I love it so much that I spent nearly as much time agonizing over the potential grooming regimen of a Golden Retriever before adopting Honey as I did over the prospect of committing the cardinal sin that would send me straight to dog-lover’s hell: getting a dog from a breeder instead of from a rescue or shelter.

I generally let Honey look like a hippie. It helps her fit in better here in Ithaca where every third person arrived in the early 1970s to live in a commune.

But eventually the overgrown hair causes serious problems–mats under her armpits that could develop into hot spots, overgrown hair between her toes that makes her slip on the stairs, and fuzzy ears that can stay damp and get infected over time. And I’m far too elegant a lady to ever discuss the “fellow travelers” that can ride along on her fuzzy hind end after making a post-eaten kibble deposit in the backyard.

So this week is another big groom for Honey. Yes, it’s partly so she’ll look pretty at BlogPaws. But it’s also a long neglected, and much-needed investment in her comfort and health. She should feel much better after a good bath and trim.

Woman at wheel of sailboat on Lake Ontario

Keeping your hair neat when you're traveling into the wind is easy.

Knowing that she’d feel much better after a grooming, I took a lesson from Honey and decided to invest in my own comfort on the boat by getting my hair cut short.

I hate getting my hair cut almost as much as I hate going to the doctor. And I haven’t been to the doctor in 22 years!

But if it was good enough for Honey, it would be good enough for me. And when I climbed back on board after going for a swim and just ran my fingers through my hair or didn’t have to worry about getting strands caught in a pulley or winch, I was glad to have done it.

Sometimes grooming has nothing to do with looks….

Do you groom your dogs? Is it more about comfort or appearance? And do you groom yourself more or less than your dogs?

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  1. You…. have… not… been… to a doctor… IN HOW LONG???

    Would you let Honey go ONE YEAR without seeing a vet??? Please, please, please, go for a general check-up. PLEASE!!!

    And the haircut looks great, btw.

    • No, Honey never misses an annual check up. But she can’t talk and tell me how she feels.

      I’m pretty confident in my abilities to read my own body. And I’m one of those disgustingly healthy people with low blood pressure, a low resting heart rate, and I haven’t even had a cold in the past 4 years.

      Oh, and when I went to the dentist after 10 years away, the hygienist had to admit I must have the immunity of an Amazon given the shape of my gums.

      I’m not in a big hurry to go looking for trouble. :)

  2. Your hair looks great! You are such a natural on the boat. Like you were born to sail.

    My hair has always been my biggest vanity. I love going to the salon and getting it cut. I’ve had many different styles over the years. Right now it’s long as it’s easier for me than short hair. Just chuck it up in a ponytail and call it good. For whatever reason, I find short hair much more work in the morning.

    I am not nearly so attentive to Shiva’s grooming. I love her shorter fur as it doesn’t mat or get in her way. The texture of it is slightly oily so dirt brushes right off. She gets a bath about twice a year and a light brushing every now and then but other than that she is very low-maintenance. I’ll never own a poodle. I just don’t think I could commit to the work involved.

    • I love it when people talk about enjoying the luxury of going to a salon for a haircut. I understand it intellectually but I hate being “fussed over.”

      Shiva definitely has my style. She sounds like she has the perfect coat for an active dog. :)

  3. The Poodles and I are every six weeks to the groomers or we look worse than unkempt Medusas.
    The dogs…I brush them every…so often and they always look good.
    But we’re all worth it.

  4. Hey!

    We’re back!

    OK I can’t decide if I’m impressed with the long overdue doctor’s visit, or slightly hoping you’ll go sometime soon. I guess I’m that way with the dentist though . . .

    As for grooming, I shave my own hair (one of the perks of having a G.I. Jane ‘do!) and use the same clippers for Charlie Poodle. I used to keep Charlie in an elaborate lamb clip that took hours to hand cut with scissors but lately I have no patience for it and just take a machine with a clip on it to him and cut him all even. In the summer I cut him every 4-5 weeks and in the winter about 6-7. It’s not that bad, but I’ve definitely gotten used to it. The perks, of course, are that he doesn’t shed, which helps quite a bit since he sleeps in bed with me. Emma gets bathed more often than other dogs with short coats ‘cus she’s got them allergies.

    Lately I’ve been considering growing my hair out again – it’s been short for almost five years now.

    • Hey, welcome back!

      With a busy schedule, I can see that having a simple do for yourself would be a good choice. I just watched the end of So You Think You Can Dance where I’ve been admiring Sonya Tayeh’s long mohawk. She swings it over one one side or the other and lets it hang long sometimes for variety. Maybe something for you to consider if you want the neatness of the buzz cut with the interest of a new do.

  5. I agree with one person, you absolutely MUST go for a check up at the very least!

    Sampson and Delilah get baths about twice per year or whenever they roll in something that requires a bath. :-)

    Me, I liked my hair long but it was so thin that I could not really do anything with it. I went short a number of years ago and love it! I got to the salon every four weeks, without fail. Your haircut does look fabulous.

    I am so disappointed that I am not going to blogpaws, I would love to meet you and Honey! I am going next year and depending upon where it is, I may bring Sampson along. :-0

    • I definitely think many people bathe their dogs too often. 2x a year sounds about right.

      I wish they’d announce where BlogPaws will be held next year. That would give everyone enough time to get excited by this year’s event and start planning for next year. 😉

  6. Since I groom other people’s dogs, I’m very glad that my own dogs require a minimum of maintenance.

    Even so, I’ve been continually amazed at just how much excess fur an Anatolian shepherd mix can generate. Where does it all come from? The Furminator has been a huge help for us–if I spend some dedicated time with it once a week or so, I can keep my floors from developing their own uneven, ratty-looking homegrown shag carpet.

    As for my own grooming, it is pretty minimal! My Swiss ballet dancer boyfriend is a positive influence toward grooming–without him around, I might get just as matted as some of my clients!

    • I think some day scientists will find that dog hair is a form of dog reproduction. Since we so often neuter or spay our pets, they are evolving to pass on their DNA by creating new dogs out of hair.

      If that’s true, the Furminator is a form of birth control!

      I think it’s interesting that you don’t want to do high maintenance grooming with your dogs after doing it for other people. My groomer yesterday told me she does very basic grooming for her own dog too. :)

  7. It’s a mixed grooming party with both of my girls. I bathe Penny at home but take her in to get her nails filed as she is very sensitive with them. I also bathe Luna at home but will take her in at least two times a year for a better than good grooming and hair cut. As for me, well I do hair so I am grooming people myself. I also love getting my own hair done. And apparently I committed your cardinal sin and I’m going to dog-lovers hell as Luna is from a breeder instead of from a rescue or shelter. :)

    • Luna always looks so nice I thought you had her professionally groomed more often than 2x a year. You’re doing a great job!

  8. I love low-maintenance dogs. And I probably couldn’t say it enough!! A good brushing and they are good to go. :)

    Now your could you do it?? lol I was never allowed to have long hair and that was all I ever wanted when I was growing up, so when I was finally able to grow it, I let it grow and grow. Believe me there are days I wish I could cut it for a few days, but then I’d want it all back like the next day. Honestly I love your cut, it looks easy and fresh and if your happy with it, that is all that matters. :)

    And as far as the doctor and dentist, I agree with you, I’ll know when I need to go.

    • The haircut was a bit painful. I think I’m to the point where I think of long hair as part of being young so whenever I get it cut short, it’s just another reminder that I’m getting old. Ugh!

      It’s a good thing your dogs are low maintenance. Managing six haircuts would be more than I would want to handle! :)

  9. If we’re talking about the Greyhounds, they get about two baths a year, unless something unexpected happens. They get other regular maintenance, like nail clipping and tooth brushing, but it’s pretty minimal. Morgan has regular dates with the Furminator outside, for which the neighborhood birds are quite thankful. I admit, I’m still probably more high-maintenance than the dogs, but Morgan gives me a run for the money.

    • I guess it depends on what you call high-maintenance. Even if Bunny doesn’t need lots of combing and cutting, it must take some work to match her accessories. :)

      I once read somewhere that German Shepherds shed once a year–but it lasts 365 days.

      • Ha ha ha! You are right on both counts! Bunny has to have just the right collar for the occasion, and Morgan sheds every single day, sometimes twice a day! 😉

  10. Looking forward to meeting the freshly groomed Honey (and you) at BlogPaws. :) Your new ‘do looks great!

  11. Frankie and Beryl are in the 2 baths a year brigade:) I really love having 2 virtually no-maintenance dogs.

    Me, I’m extremely low maintenance. I have really short hair and I love having it cut. I used to dye it because it was fun but I don’t do that anymore. There’s not as much grey there as I thought there would be:)

    Your new cut looks fabulous. Great for sailing and Blogpaws:) Not many sleeps to go now! I’ll bet Honey will enjoy being tidied up too. But I love hippie looking dogs as long as they don’t have matts and knots which must be uncomfortable and could be hiding anything!

    I know you and Honey will have a blast at Blogpaws! Can’t wait to read all about it:)

    • Sounds like you, Frankie, and Beryl are well matched to have lots of adventures without having too fuss too much with the hair. You have adventure do’s. :)

      Apparently I’m a rare bird who thinks boating requires a casual look. I saw one woman in the marina bathroom at Kingston, Ontario who had a toiletries bag as big as my entire luggage for the week. She spent nearly an hour blow drying her hair (just to get back on a boat)!

  12. Grooming? What is grooming?!?! LOL I don’t even have a real dog brush-i just run the Zoom Groom over them if I think they need it (which, hasn’t happened in over 5 months or so).

    For myself: I am in the habit of wearing my hair in a braid/bun due to working in the medical field. But, if I’m going out, I’ll fix it. I only get haircuts a couple times a year.

    • Oh, I’m so jealous. Good choice to have dogs that were bred to run all over the countryside on a scent trail without getting tangled in burrs. :)

      Of course, Golden Retrievers were bred to do similar work. I guess Lord Tweedmouth (the developer of the breed) had lots of servants to do the grooming.

  13. I’m truly, deeply trying to decide if I want to throw in the proverbial towel and have Darby’s hair all chopped off, mostly to spare us both the agony of dealing with the perpetual mats and scut he picks up thinking he has Beagle hair rather than the mass of fluff that encircles his body. I have never used a groomer before, even though my previous dog was a sheltie. I’ve always groomed them myself, but think both Darby and I might be ready for a change.