Printed June 2 as a weekly column submission.
I surprised myself when I adopted a dog that sheds his body weight in fur. He changed the way I clean, changed the way I shop and forced me to relax my obsessive compulsiveness over keeping things in perfect order.
Since I adopted Maple, a Shiba Inu/Eskimo Husky cross, three years ago, I think twice about wearing black, I’ve considered buying stock in companies that make pet hair rollers and the color of Maple’s fur is a deciding factor in all furniture purchases. His red color and fluffy tail make him adorable – his fur makes him high maintenance.
Before I had the proper brushes and a pet hair vacuum, I felt overwhelmed. I went online to see if I could profit from his shedding. Turns out it’s illegal to sell dog fur in many states. Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t want to see his fur on the runway at New York Fashion Week. I recently saw photos on Facebook of mittens created out of one’s dog fur and it made my skin itch.
I became content having birds use his fur to build their nests.
A few weeks ago, I got my hopes up as I stumbled upon a story about how to put Maple’s fur to good use. The story got buzz around the country: many groomers and stylists collected pet fur and human hair to help with the oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico coastline. San Francisco-based nonprofit Matter of Trust collected the hair and said it would be used to create oil absorbing booms and mats.
The discovery made my head spin. Finally Maple’s massive amounts of fur and my overwhelming need to vacuum before guests arrive would all be for something. He could put his unneeded hair to good use. I always knew my fur child would give back.
My excitement was short-lived.
Last week the Associated Press reported that hair, pet fur and fleece filled 19 warehouses in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. BP and the U.S. Coast Guard said they are not using the hair to sop up the oil and don’t plan to do so.
Matter of Trust posted on its website that they are on “stand by” with BP after BP officials said there had been a misunderstanding.
So Maple and I are on stand by. Each day when we go outside and I remove enough fur to fill a gallon Ziploc bag, we give it to the wind instead of saving it for the warehouses full of hair.
Maple’s “spa time” relaxes him and for now, his fur will continue to be for the birds.