Over the past 1.5 years, I have become somewhat obsessed with Golden Retrievers, and dogs in general. I have always grown up with animals, but it seems recently this obsession has taken on a whole new level.
I spend most of my spare time researching dog facts. I want to know the insides and outs to everything. Part of my motivation is because I want to purchase a puppy, and become involved in showing. Right now I'm out to learn whatever I can, and I feel I've learned A LOT! I'm starting to figure out what to look for in a pedigree, I know the criteria to have when selecting a reputable breeder, and I am slowly learning what makes a good conformation dog. I also want to learn how to give Milly, my Golden Retriever rescue, the best care possible.
In my attempts of giving her fantastic care, I have become very interested in grooming. I've always loved brushing Milly, and taking care of her coat, but now I really am striving to groom her myself. For years I groomed my show horses myself, and rode them to top national rankings, and the bond between owner and animal during grooming is amazing! In a way, I am using my dog obsession to replace the bond I once had with my horses (I no longer own horses, though continue to ride). With Milly's grooming, I strive to bathe her (I've done lots of research on what shampoos are appropriate for her coat type, and to work with her skin allergies), the right way to dry her, how to get her coat to lay just-so, how to trim her paws, how to clip (or dremel) her nails, how to trim ears, and yes, I've even researched (though yet to attempt, because I am still researching, and would like my vet to go over it with me first) how to expel her anal glands myself.
In many ways, Milly is my Golden Retriever grooming guinea pig, and when I groom her, I tend to spend hours doing the entire process - from the bath to the ear trimming - Milly loves it. She really thrives on human touch, and for her, grooming is Heaven.
I know my grooming abilities have a long way to go, but I'd say I'm pretty darn close to being able to do exactly what the groomers in the DC area do and charge $65 for. It might take me three hours to do so, but I can get her coat to lay just so, not show ring grooming, but still very nice and tidy for regular maintenance groomings. I spend a lot of the grooming getting her coat to lie just so, and afterwards I really hate putting her collar back on.
The past two weeks Milly has spent collarless, and I really like the way her coat is lying. I do worry, because afterall, identification tags are pretty critical in reuniting a dog with their owner if ever seperated, but I've noticed the hair on her neck is really growing in nicely, and thickening.
Many show dog owners and top breeders would never leave a collar on their dog at all times, but for most pet owners this is standard. There are many merits to having a collar on a dog, and the safety factor is paramount, but it has been intereting for me to do this collarless experiment with Milly's grooming for the past two weeks. I've seen big changes in her coat not wearing the collar, I don't think this trend will last long, but it has been neat to see. All in all, with lots of supervision, and very secure fencing, I see no reason why a dog would need a collar on at all times. Yes, it's a precaution, but right now I want to prepare myself in many little day-to-day ways for owning a show dog, and I've surprisingly loved what I've seen in Milly not wearing one.
A year ago, I bought a harness when Milly had a hot spot that interfered with her collar, because I was so worried about not having all of her tags on her at all times. While there are great reasons behind doing that... I am really enjoying being open minded, and absorbing all I can about a side of the dog world that I knew little about a year and a half ago.