So this is it. My life. Covered in dog hair. I have been doing a lot of work lately to learn how to accept myself and my life as it. Embrace it all rather than the fervent resistance that I often find myself putting in acceptances place. For most of my life I think I have resisted the things that I have no control over and accepted the things that I can control. It is a backwards kind of logic that has gotten me nowhere but stuck deep in the most negative parts of my own mind. But I am happy to announce that I am finding my way out of these synaptic penetralias. I am beginning to see the light that is way out there in the distance. The light gets closer with every step and breath that I take but then there is always a new challenge that seems to threaten falling back into old habits. I begin again to resist what is.
People warned me when I got a German shepherd that there would be hair. Lots of hair. I was told haunting stories about softball sized tendrils made out of dog hair tumbling across the family room floor, through hallways, under couches and tables and in-between the sheets. I was told about the endless sweeping and vacuuming and constant battle to attempt to outsmart the fallen dog hair. Yes, I was warned but I am the kind of backwards type that always likes to do the opposite of what people are warning me against. When I want something there is nothing that will stop me (if only I wanted more money I would be a very rich man by now but for some reason I am rather apathetic towards the accumulation of cash). When I saw this particular German shepherd with droopy eyes and head rested helplessly on paws while behind the bars of an animal shelter, I immediately wanted her. My original intention was not to get a dog. My wife and I were going just to look. But deep down I knew as well as she did that our resolve to just look was a lie that we were telling ourselves so that we could get ourselves to the animal shelter without any voices in our head convincing us to turn back or not to go in the first place. It was a way to outsmart our own minds.
The hair is everywhere. It even turns up when I am making love with my wife. When we kiss I always feel microscopic strands of thorny hair making its ways over my tongue. There is dog hair on my toothbrush, in my socks, in between the pages of the numerous books that I am reading (but will probably never finish), in my morning tea, on my records and even in-between the keys of this laptop that I am now typing upon. Dog hair is colonizing my life. It would not be an exaggeration to state that even parts of the hair on my head are no longer my own but are an annoying blend of dog and human hair. What has been the most challenging part of living with so much dog hair has been the way that my dog’s hair seems to cling to black. I have always enjoyed wearing all black, but since I have gotten my dog I can no longer wear black comfortably. Every time I look down at my shirt or pants there is multiple strands of dog hair curled up against my body. It is a battle that I cannot win. Like an obsessed lover that refuses to let go, the more I try and chase the dog hair away, the more it seems to grab onto the darker parts of me.
I talk about my frustration towards my dog’s habitual and continual surrender of her hair with everyone I come across. I talk about it with the checker at the market, the homeless guy who continually asks me for chump change, my clients in my psychotherapy practice, the sales people at the record store I like to visit and even with the mailman. I am searching for insight. Valuable information. I desperately want to know if anyone has found the holy grail of how to prevent dog shedding. I am looking for solutions everywhere I go. Like a person afflicted with an incurable disease, I want to know that there has to be some kind of solution that has been overlooked, some kind of possibility that has been missed. I realize that I am searching in the dark, but I am profoundly optimistic that one day I will talk to someone or put the right combination of words into a Google search and up will come what I have been looking for. I will find a way to stop my dog from shedding.
So far, all of my efforts in this direction have been rendered futile. My search has been in vain. I have been looking for gold in a river that has dried up and where there is nothing but dirt, pebbles and a few footprints. I am continually told that there is no cure for excessive dog shedding and that I need to learn to live with all the hair. I am often told that I have a German shepherd and that this is what German Shepherds do. They shed as much as we humans worry. There is nothing that can be done about it. “Get used to it,” is something that people often like to tell me when I question them about potential cures. Of course I do the opposite of what people tell me. I refuse to accept or get used to it. I am convinced that there must be a way to end this invasion of dog hair in my life. I search with the conviction of one who refuses to give up hope. No, I cannot learn to live with it. It is exactly because I have no control that I must resist.
In the meantime I spend more time with a broom and a vacuum cleaner than I do with any other person in my life. The broom and I are becoming very intimate. In my underwear and t-shirt the first thing that I do when I wake up in the morning is sweep the hardwood floors of my home. I then vacuum up the small mountains of hair that I have collected. By then it is noon. Even though I spend the remainder of my day pulling strands of fallen dog hair out from my mouth, hair, clothes, records, books, socks, food and wherever else the dog hair can find to hang out; I am impermanently relieved by the fact that I have removed the majority of dog hair from the floors of my home. There is something very satisfying about this small victory. To walk through the halls of my home and only see a few strand of wayward dog hair (as opposed to the full scale invasion that is there when I wake up in the morning) gives me peace of mind. I can feel a lightness of being once again. As much as I wish that I could learn how to live harmoniously with all the dog hair, it seems to be a psychological skill that I am so far incapable of.
Lately I have been meditating so that I can attempt to accept the fact that as long as I have my dog, there will be dog hair in my life. I breathe and tell myself to let go, to embrace things as they are. Accept the hair, accept the hair, accept the hair. But almost always in the middle of my meditation, I will open one eye and look around. I will see dog hair on my lotus-crossed knees, on my meditation cushion and in the corners of the room. I will begin to feel that familiar aggravation rise up in my chest and I tell myself to calm down and let the dog hair just be there. But of course I can’t. Of course I always need to get up, go grab the broom and the vacuum and clean up the dog hair.