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Smell the Coffee: How do you mend a broken heart?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I was sitting on the grass in my yard the other night with a lumpy old rabbit licking my feet, a once feral cat sitting on my left, and a dog with a red Mohawk on my right, when it occurred to me that my normal isn't terribly normal.But I like it that way.And I like that our odd-haired dog finally seemed a little happier too.Chewie has been grieving something fierce these past two months, since losing his lifelong buddy Murry. He stopped eating. Stopped playing. Stopped going outside unless carried or dragged.And I had no idea how to help, so I went online and did a good bit of research. Surprisingly, nowhere did it suggest giving the dog a red Mohawk, but I'll be darned if that wasn't what seems to be doing the trick.Cesar Millan, take note! We might be on to something.Someone needs to research the impact a spiked red Mohawk can have on sad terriers with questionable fashion sense. But perhaps Chewie's an anomaly. He's never been run of the mill in a good many ways. He violently attacks our rear windshield wipers when we're out for a drive. He sings if you merely pick up a harmonica. Blowing into it isn't required. He's just a little guy but can lift a full-size lawn mower or vacuum cleaner off the ground while it's running. And he likes clothes.I've never been a fan of dressing animals, but Chewie is my daughter's dog, meaning that much like his master, he's had an impressive wardrobe from the start. I never believed dogs needed nor wanted to wear clothing, but if it's even a little bit chilly, Chewie will go to his basket and nose through his clothes until he finds something he fancies. More often than not, it'll be a pink striped shirt with a white button-down collar, which he'll drop at our feet. If he wants it off, he removes it himself.Still, I could tell this depression of his wasn't something a new outfit could erase. Even a designer wardrobe, one tailored to show off his newly slimmed waistline, didn't seem sufficient to draw him out of his funk. The solution came quite by accident, after I tried to schedule an appointment to get his hair cut and found the local groomers booked solid for weeks.
Celeste and her friend Nicholli were looking for something to do, so I asked if they'd try doing his hair.I suppose in their defense, I didn't define what I meant by "doing," although I should've better read the mischievous look that passed between the two girls. They accepted a little too eagerly, there was a bit too much laughter coming from the bathroom, and I couldn't recall ever needing a timer when trimming and bathing a dog.It was nearly two hours before Chewie emerged from the bathroom. And I swear that dog was strutting big time when he did.The hair over most of Chewie's body was cut short, but the top of his head and a wide stripe down the length of his back was left long, dyed a glowing red with a vegan dye, then teased, gelled and spiked.He was clearly pleased with the result. He was grinning ear to ear. For the first time in ages, he wanted to play.
His sadness had lifted. For a few days, anyway.By Tuesday night, he was lethargic again, so Celeste, her friends and I took him to Bark in the Park Night at Appalachian Power Park, where patrons can bring their dogs with them to the game. Although Chewie's hair color had already faded a bit, it still garnered a good deal of attention, which he always enjoys.It was fun watching the dogs there, how well they all got along. It's a bit like a big canine singles bar, with everyone checking out each other's butts. Some dogs were super-social, while others were snobs, preferring to hang with humans instead of their brethren.Chewie was so happily exhausted by the time we came home that he collapsed in the yard. I sat down beside him, slipped off his bandanna, which I draped around our once feral cat's neck.Then I leaned back in the grass and waited for the rabbit to come and work on my feet.Reach Karin Fuller via email at
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