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Dog's fur to make puppy pajamas

FishingMarketingWikimedia Foundation, Inc.Charles M. Schulz

Being a dog person, I'm not much on using the expression "cat's fur to make kitten britches" when I want to be dismissive of someone's question. I've long been fascinated by the concept, though.

My interest in the subject was renewed over the holidays when a colleague posted a joke on the Internet about having received a bit of outdoor apparel made of cat fur.

Myself, I'm rather of a mind that certain kinds of dog hair could be easily spun into yarn, which, presumably could be used to make puppy pants. Our family dog, a golden retriever, generates an awful lot of the raw material, which is evident every time I brush her so she doesn't get those Rastafarian dreadlocks so common on other goldens.

As an aside, I'd like to point out that brushing a golden is an adventure. At 7, ours isn't aware that this translates into the meat of middle-age in dog years. She's still a puppy in her head, and my family and I often speculate that if it were possible to translate the dog thoughts running through her head at any time when there's no food around, or she's not sleeping, the result would be a sentence that goes like this: "Let's play play play play play play play…" Each play, incidentally, coincides with a left or right wag of the tail.

The result of this play-oriented thinking is that any time anyone gets on the floor, say to fix a garbage disposal, or fold laundry, or brush the dreadlocks out of dog's haunches, the dog thinks the human is thinking: "Let's play play play…"

Brushing the dog is extra work for me because it's extra play for the dog. No matter, I tell the dog I'll be able to replace her by building another dog out of bushels of brushes-full of hair I end up with.

When I was a kid, we had beagles, which are every bit as friendly as goldens (all retrievers, for that matter), but they obey commands about as well as cats. Though they have shorter hair than goldens, they are able to produce a rather shocking amount of dog hair because a lot of beagles have an undercoat of soft hair with a more stiff, but every bit as substantial, coat of guard hair.

The thing about beagle hair, though, is no one would ever think to make wool out of it because, though it's plenty soft, it has a distinct aroma, that is greatly enhanced by the addition of the smallest bit of moisture. Even the late Charles Schulz, the Peanuts cartoonist, was aware of this characteristic, having once done a strip that showed Snoopy (a beagle) giving a bottle of fragrance to Lucy with the unlikely perfume name "Wet Beagle."

Goldens don't seem to have scent glands up to beagle strength, so it occurred to me after brushing the dog and coming up with about a pound of fur (weighs about the same as a pound of popcorn, but substantially more than a pound of lead), that the world would be a better place if there were a market for dog hair.

After all, there's a market for alpaca hair (I guess fleece is the more appropriate term), and you have to brush them to harvest it. Similarly, sheep have to be shorn. Brushing dogs for dog fleece, therefore, seems to be a reasonable proposition. It could lead to a whole new industry, wherein people would drop their dogs off at brushing parlors and actually be paid for the amount of hair produced.

The big problem with this business plan — and probably the thing that would prevent investment on the part of venture capitalists — is while people like dogs (and dogs like people), they're not particularly fond of dog hair. Presumably it would be objectionable even if spun into yarn and knitted into hats, sweaters and puppy pajamas.

The solution, I figured, could be a marketing campaign similar to what is done to make unattractive fish seem more palatable. The monkfish you see in the grocery store, for example, comes from the fillets of an angler fish, a creature that has the look of something from a "Godzilla vs. ____" movie. Still, it commands top dollar because it has a tame name.

So alpaca fleece can command a high price. Why not just change the name of dog hair to dogpaca fleece? I even came up with a ridiculous Wikipedia entry detailing the life history and origins of the rare and elusive dogpaca, though I never bothered to post it because it seemed like too much like work.

Presumably, though, once a successful dogpaca marketing campaign is launched, selling dog hair will become big business. All I ask is that anyone who finds success using my brilliant plan send me a check for 5 percent of the gross. If it doesn't work, I'm sure it's your fault, so you'll have to eat the losses.

Suspecting I won't be retiring off this any time soon off this venture, I'll spend the next few weeks thinking of something more serious to write about next time. "Why more serious?" you may ask; I reply: "Dog's fur to make puppy pajamas."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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