There are two certainties that occur every year as we move closer to summer. The daylight is blissfully long — and our yellow Labrador molts.
Nessie sheds year-round, but a few stray hairs are nothing compared to the large chunks of fur that fall like leaves from autumn trees. As dogs go, Labradors are supposedly average shedders. But thanks to their double coats and the change of seasons, they shed their coats twice a year.
Yes, our lovable labs have two coats. The outer coat keeps them dry and the undercoat that is softer keeps them warm. That’s why labs can swim in icy cold water.
That all made sense when our canine companions lived outside and needed to put up with the winter elements. But one would hope that a spoiled Labrador who lounges around in climate-controlled conditions would not need to succumb to her primal canine rhythms.
Then again, having all the food she needs has never stopped her from chewing on dead animals and rolling over the remnants in total and complete ecstasy. She not only smells rotten but inevitably will awaken us several times overnight when her digestive system decides to expel with force.
Yes, dogs will be dogs.
The old girl — she’s turning 9 — does deserve a break. Last year the veterinarian diagnosed her with a thyroid condition because her coat was looking a little ragged. We gave her medicine and she moved from hypothyroid to hyperthyroid. Just when she was reaching the age where labs finally begin calming down she was behaving like a puppy again.
While she will need her thyroid re-checked, there should be no issues with her nutrition. Not only is she well-fed, but Nessie has a habit of stealing eggs fresh from the henhouse. All that protein should be making her coat nice and shiny.
That’s all well and good, but dealing with the molt requires plenty of grooming and keeping the bagless vacuum cleaner on standby. Luckily Nessie likes to be brushed, but a regular hair brush quickly becomes clogged when the fur comes out in chunks.
I have found a useful dog-grooming comb that does an excellent job pulling out the loose hair and can be quickly cleaned. It doesn’t take long before I have enough fur to knit a sweater. Sometimes I just throw it outside, where it will end up providing warm and comfortable lining in birds’ nests.
But because Nessie’s dog pillow is a little flat these days, I wonder if I just shouldn’t re-stuff her bed with her own hair. Nessie can sleep on the bed she helped make.
How wet has it been?
Farmers don’t need official weather statistics to tell us what we already know, but May was a very wet month. There are still some low-lying fields in our neighborhood that have yet to be worked up, much less planted.
The National Weather Service in La Crosse said it recorded 7.2 inches of rain in May, which is 3.68 inches above normal. That’s the eighth-wettest May on record. And from May 15 through May 29, there were 15 consecutive days of measurable rain, during which time more than 6 inches fell. So there was clearly some meteorologic data to back the presumption that it seemed like it rained every day there for a while.
As of June 1, La Crosse has had 17.69 inches of precipitation this year, which is 6.29 inches above normal. Other parts have had more. I’m not complaining — well, maybe just a little — but some warm days and sunshine would be welcome as I eye my first cutting of hay, which should be bountiful.
Of course I remember 2013 — when we had more than 8 inches of rain in May, with late plantings and late haying. But the rain spigot turned off after July 1 and we ended the year in a drought.
What I really would like to see in politics also applies to the weather — a little moderation, please.