Dog droppings

Elvis is everywhere.

At our house, Elvis is the family hound dog. This time of year, when he's indoors much of the time, cooped up with the rest of us, his impact on the household becomes extreme. Traces of
Elvis litter every room.

This is because Elvis is wearing his "winter coat." Elvis is a long-legged, bobtailed mutt whose natural coat is a tangled, wiry, black-and-gray mess. Picture the hair of boxing impresario Don King. You get the idea.

Because of its natural tendency toward natty dreadlocks, we have the coat trimmed by a local groomer every few months. She clips him short all over, except around his face, which is left in a boxy beard. When he's freshly groomed, Elvis doesn't look like Bob Marley anymore. He looks like me.

In the winter, we let his coat grow a little longer because it's cold outside. Not that the dog is outside much. He spends, oh, 23 hours a day indoors, lying on the rug, sleeping.

But every couple of hours, he needs to go outside to attend to business and to make sure the neighborhood birds aren't scarfing his dog food.

He's not out long because it's winter and the cold might keep him awake. But during these brief expeditions, he manages to get covered in leaves and dead grass and other items that cling to the Amazing Velcro Dog. I open the door, he runs into the house, finds a nice clean spot somewhere and, shake-shake-shake, rids his coat of its detritus.

One day recently, I finished vacuuming the house. Elvis was outside, choosing the cold over the roar of the vacuum cleaner. As soon as the noise ended, he wanted back inside. I let him in, then gasped when I saw he was covered in brittle bits of yellow grass from the lawn.

Shake-shake-shake. My floor was no longer clean. Instead, it looked like somebody had dropped a bale of hay.

I started to scold the dog, but it was too late. He was already asleep again. Grumbling, I went off to get the vacuum cleaner.

The winter coat also produces more shedding, somehow. You'd think the dog would want to hold onto all his fur in the winter. But Elvis' coat works overtime, producing piles of spilled hairs.
These hairs migrate around the house, uniting with their kinsmen into gray dust bunnies that gradually grow larger, picking up dead grass and Christmas tinsel as they travel from room to room. By the time I find them hiding behind the drapes, they're the size of tumbleweeds.

I can vacuum with a vengeance, around and under all the furniture and behind the drapes and even (oh, my God!) under the kids' beds, and the moment I put away the vacuum cleaner and wipe the sweat from my brow, a half-dozen dust bunnies will dance out to the center of the room. Mocking me.

Did I mention we have beige carpet? Or, at least, as I recall, it once was beige. In the winter, it's more often a mottled brown, decorated with fallen leaves and muddy paw prints and a thatch of gray fur. I tell guests we're going for a "more natural look," one I call "Forest Floor."

At least I can stop raking leaves in the back yard. Elvis eventually will bring them all into the house, and I'll vacuum them up. It's a slow means of leaf disposal, but, heck, we've got all winter.

Elvis is worth the trouble, of course. For all the cleaning up after him we have to do (and all the money we spend on groomers and vet visits and dog/bird food), we get a family friend, one who's loyal and trustworthy and well-loved. Any time of the day or night, if we feel lonely or depressed, we can watch him sleep.

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