I’ve spent an exacting morning giving Bryn a summer haircut.
I’ve cut my own hair for forty years, and reasoned last year that I could do her hair, too, and put the saved money toward the garden’s maintenance.
But so much can go wrong.
My professional grade scissors are incredibly sharp. If she should jerk, even a little, or try to walk off, or if I got careless or distracted, one or both of us could be stabbed.
So I disabled the landline and put my cellphone on ‘vibration,’ so as not to be startled, should it ring. I’d listen to no lectures or stories as I worked. Instead, FM radio classical music, quietly melodious early in the day, would promote relaxed concentration.
I showed her my scissors and long comb. She sniffed them carefully.
“Bryn, you must be still when I do this. You must be quiet.”
She looked at me (hopefully recalling that I’d done this job once before, last May) and then moved to the window to stand quietly, searching for rabbits. It was her signal to go for it.
And so I began.
Once started, I had to carry on to the end. She’d look silly if I didn’t. It’s a two-hour job, done on towel-padded knees, on the kitchen floor.
I began behind her head, and worked down her mid-back. Not one twitch from my living statue, for an hour. Then she asked to lie down. Perfect timing.
Snip, snip, measure, snip. Leg feathers fell away. Soft, loose curls dropped from hips and shoulders. I talked to her as I measured, combed, cut, smoothed, until her hair was shortened to just over one inch. I kept up a running commentary- on, for example, her strong legs, that routinely make effortless leaps when she frolics in the dog park. I yapped on about marvelous, floppy haired ballet dancers, like the celebrated Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who, like her, had seemed to conquer gravity. Bryn listened, eyes closed.
My nonsensical babble and soft, smoothing hands made her sleepy...
I told her I’d roll her over.
“Oooover we go...”
She allowed it, body limp, paws flopping, eyes still closed.
Other side done.
I left her lovely fringed ears and plumed tail exactly as they were.
And now came the hair-raising part. Her dear face.
I paused, and marked this shift to new territory by saying, with some gravity. “Bryn, you must be very still, and quiet.”
One eye opened to acknowledge my concern, then shut again.
My God! She was so trusting!
And so I took those scary scissors to her face, snipping around her eyes, and trimming her lush brows. My comb forced long, scraggly bits to stand up: then the blades neatly clipped them from the top of her long muzzle.
She lay there, still perfectly still. Last year, with eyes closed, she’d showed her teeth as I worked next to her mouth, simply to remind me to tread carefully... this year, no display. I had free rein. Her confidence in me was absolute.
Another alert; time to roll over. I tidied the other side.
At last, only her beard and under-chin hair remained. I gabbed softly while lifting her long lips to snip along their length, and navigating between her whiskers to snip in between. She obligingly raised her head to allow under-chin work; her eyes remained closed as she absorbed all my gentle ministrations.
She continued to remain absolutely still.
But I had to stop for a minute to gather my composure, and wipe my wet eyes. How could she stay so compliant?? For nearly two hours?!
At last, worn out, I told her I was done. She bounced up, stretched luxuriously, and then stood in front of me, grinning.
Well, Boss: How do I look?
Bryn’s body, much more defined, now, was gorgeous. I’d definitely gotten better at this business. Last year my inexperienced hands had endured lots of mini-cuts because I would forget to move them from the blade’s bites. This year? Zero scissor slices! Not too shabby for a one-eyed seasoned citizen, I gloated.
She shook herself vigorously and pranced around, enjoying the weight difference, and my obvious pleasure in her appearance, before moving to her bowl for a deep drink.
Admiring the impressive piles of fleece on the floor, I raised my freshly filled coffee mug for a toast:
“Here’s to ‘hair-of-the-dog!’”