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Published March 27 2011

Swift: Pomapoo gets new ’do

Last week, I came home from work to find a new, furry, black ottoman in the living room.

“How nice,” I thought. “TSC must have had a furniture sale, which Irwin couldn’t resist. I wonder if he also bought a John Deere afghan?”

But when I tried to prop my feet up on the new ottoman, it yelped.

That’s the moment I realized our Pomapoo, Kita, needed a haircut.

When we first got Kita six years ago, they told us she would require regular trips to the dog groomers.

I’d never owned a pet who needed serious grooming before. When we were kids, our farm dog, Pal, had exactly three baths in his life. The first involved rinsing him off with the garden hose after he rolled in a deer carcass. The second came after a rumble with a skunk and involved gallons of tomato juice. (His white fur looked pink for a week afterward.) And his third was prompted by a Disney movie, which included a bucololic-looking scene of adorable blond children lathering up a giant, lackadaisical sheep dog in the back yard. (Old Pal wasn’t nearly as cooperative. We spent an hour chasing him around the yard with the hose in efforts to rinse the lather out of his coat.)

Likewise, our golden Lab, Jake, is strictly low-maintenance. He bears up to his infrequent baths with horrified resignation. Typically, Irwin will have to corner him, then hoist up his 80-pound body and carry him to the tub. Irwin has to climb into the tub with him and immediately slam the shower doors so he can’t escape.

Jake will spend the next 20 minutes in Eyore-like misery. Head down and tail between legs, he will look like we’ve just restricted him to a lifetime of vegetarian kibble, loud vacuum cleaners and visits to the veterinarian.

But Kita’s thick, fluffy pelt requires regular, professional groomervention. Every three to four months, she needs to be shampooed, conditioned, trimmed, combed out and perfumed. Her teensy teeth must be cleaned with a teensy toothbrush so they don’t fall out. When done, she will look like a miniature bear cub and smell like J-Lo. Strangers will stop me on the street to ask what kind of dog she is and how they can get one. Well aware of her just-groomed charms, she will trot down the street with a jaunty pride.

After all, every girl knows when she looks hot.

But if we wait too long between grooming, she loses her girlish physique.

Her fur overtakes her, obliterating her body, legs and neck. She will begin to look more like the love child of a bramble bush and a Chia Pet than a dog. Irwin will call her a “dog bale.” Strangers will politely remark she has “such a pretty face.”

Less-kindly types will ask: “What is that? A badger?”

Her Wookiee-like undercarriage will pick up all sorts of things: sticks, straw, lost change. On more than occasion, she’s been able to use her voluminous coat to smuggle a dead mouse in the house.

And Kita will be like the newlywed who gained back the weight she lost to fit into her wedding dress. She will pant under the weight of her massive coat. She will adopt a hang-dog look and walk a bit more sheepishly.

In short, she will be miserable.

At least she’s getting groomed this weekend.

Call it good mousekeeping.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525 or tswift@forumcomm.com