This past week it started to get hot out here. Consistently above 90, somewhat high humidity, but still kinda dry for Tennessee because we haven’t had much rain. The dogs have been going nuts at night with the coyotes all around. Sheba has noticeably lost some weight, so we’re feeding a bit more than we usually would. Sophie is still her playful self, but you can see it in the dogs, they’re much more on-guard than they've ever been. Instead of sleeping in the shade during the daytime they’ll regularly move back and forth between the pastures, sometimes pausing for a while in the middle. We found scat around that appears to be coyote, but tough to know for sure. No animal losses yet, but I think we’ll get a few more dogs...
But I digress. The point of the whole post is that the heat is leading to the dogs blowing their coats. Well, at least Sheba and Izzi are, Sophie’s not quite yet. And what exactly does “blowing coat” mean? It’s kind of obvious, but I didn’t know the extent of it until our dogs started. It’s literally what it sounds like. All of the long hair on the dogs blows right off in big clumps. When we got the Great Pyrenees girls they had big fluffy coats. Especially on their rumps. Big fluffy butts, kind of like our Silkie Rooster, Elvis. Now the Pyrs have trimmed down substantially.
Sophie likes it because she plays with the fur clumps. Happily seeking them out and then chewing on them and tossing dragging them all over the farm. Her go-to toy is usually a cedar branch, but she has a new infatuation.
The Pyrs and Maremmas have two coats, one short hair underneath and one longer hair on top. If you shave them in the summer before they have a chance to blow their coats you risk them getting sunburnt or dying from heatstroke. Their undercoat serves to protect them. Sometimes if they get really matted over the course of the winter you have to cut off the mats before summer so the mats don’t get nasty and infected (critters like to burrow underneath), but you always have to make sure not to cut too close. We had to cut some mats off Izzi when we got her, but we made sure to leave a layer, and now she’s shedding some of the remaining portions of the mats off.
Now there's white fur balls everywhere I look. I like to spread them around where I think coyotes might be intruding. Hopefully leaving the scent of the dogs as a warning. Some people collect it all and throw it away. Seems like a lot of work to me, but I’m not sure of the pros and cons to each approach. Seems that birds could use it for nesting, or it could bio degrade, or Sophie could get out some puppy angst by chewing on it, or it could deter coyotes, so why not leave it out?