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Local Editorials

Buddy’s Buzz Cut

I had put off grooming Buddy because of our cold, snowy winter.  I take Buddy for a minimum of two walks a day—morning and night, and he loves the cold.  On our coldest walk—it was 14 below zero with a 20 mph wind, that made it like 40 below—Buddy just put his nose in the wind, and tested for scents.  Then he took off on a romp, doing circles and leaping high, taking bites out of the crusty snow as he went.

Me?  I was trying desperately to keep every patch of skin covered—like my forehead and wrists—lest I have to tuck tail and scurry home.  Even though I had my nose and mouth covered, breathing was painful.

I’ll have to admit, ole Buddy Boy was looking pretty shaggy, like a sheep dog, like a Buddy Bear.  I was wondering how much he could see, with all that hair covering his pretty brown eyes.  Thank God he doesn’t shed! But the worst part, people were saying my dog looked fat.  I was wondering myself.  With all that hair, it was hard to tell what was body, and what was fur.  I began cutting his food back.

I set a date of March first.  Cold weather or not, I was going to have him groomed.  Heather Brauman is my groomer, and we have a barter system worked out—I frame pictures for her, she grooms my dog.  We both treat each other’s possessions like they were our own.

The big day came, and Buddy ran off to his fate like it was Christmas (he loves Heather because she makes such a fuss over him).  Fortunately, the sun was shining and it was thawing.

When I picked Buddy up, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I didn’t recognize him!  He looked like someone else’s cute puppy.  And, no, he wasn’t fat!  Oh, if this would only work for humans—get a haircut and shed 40 pounds! But what’s even more amazing, with all that fur removed, his personality seemed to  change.  He became more cuddly, and puppyish.  With all that hair gone, I suppose, he doesn’t get as hot, and is more willing to cuddle. 

I wonder, has his personality changed, or is it my perception of him that’s changed?  Hmm.  That’s an interesting question for a dog psychologist.  He looks like a puppy therefore I treat him like one.  Instead of, “Get out of here, you big ole hairy thing,” it’s “Come here, pretty boy, and give me a hug.”

If dogs could only talk.

I was a little concerned that Buddy would have a hard time staying warm with all that fur gone.  Not to worry.  There’s been more cold and snow since the day of the mighty haircut, but Buddy hasn’t seemed to notice.  He still runs and romps, buries his nose in the snow, and doesn’t shiver or shake.  I have not had to resort to a dog sweater.  We still go on our two-a-days, and he still waits at the door in eager anticipation, doing his customary circles and leaps.  I don’t know who enjoys these walks more, Buddy or me.

Don’t ask what breed he is.  I don’t know.  I rescued Buddy from a dog shelter in Wayland.  Rescued dogs make the best pets, you know.  They are eternally grateful.

However, if you were to ask Buddy, and Buddy could talk, he might say something like, “Humph, he thinks he rescued me, when it was actually I who rescued him.”

• • •

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at, or visit his website at  Curt also records his Empty Nest columns at

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