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Orbiting the Giant Hairball: Dealing With Service Dog Shedding

Having a Service Dog means a lot of things: independence, hope, mobility, confidence — but it also means something else: DOG HAIR and dealing with Service shedding.

[pullquote_left]For Service Dog and pet owners alike, your dog hair deluge is probably not going to stop.”[/pullquote_left]As the executive director of an Autism Service Dog non-profit and mom of a child with an Autism Service Dog, I’m sometimes asked if we deal with shedding or the best ways of dealing with Service Dog shedding. I smile to myself, wishing I could tell them that shedding isn’t a big deal and that you easily keep it under control. (But then I would be lying!) Some areas of our house are covered with dog hair. It’s like a series of little indoor dog hair laden winter storms continually race through the inside of our house dumping the stuff all over the spots where Orbit, my son Elliot’s Autism Service Dog, is allowed. Little white hairs pile up everywhere. When Elliot’s therapists come to play they sometimes leave covered in sidewalk chalk, poster paint splotches — and tufts of fur.

Dealing With Service Dog Shedding

Last week while I was furminating and brushing Orbit, so much hair came out we proceeded to amass it into another small dog — to illustrate the point, we jokingly outfited it with it’s own collar.

For Service Dog and pet owners alike, your dog hair deluge is probably not going to stop. The good news is that you can reduce it with a simple routine. Here’s how we do it:

Orbit’s grooming process includes a routine of regular brushing and shampooing. Elliot usually helps with the shampooing and the rinsing — his favorite part is when Orbit shakes off all of the loose water.

dealing with Service Dog sheddingWe use two products. A Zoom Groom and a Furminator. The Zoom Groom is a rubber brush-like thingy recommended by our friend, Nancy, who is a CCI puppy raiser. I love my Zoom Groom. The Furminator is special comb with narrow metal teeth that really collect loose hair with nearly effortless strokes. However, as Orbit’s trainer cautioned us, being too enthusiastic with the Furminator can actually remove too much of the dog’s important undercoat.

When I feel I’ve furminated enough, I switch to the Zoom Groom to keep removing hair with less intensity. The first time I used it, Orbit fell actually asleep — on his back with all four paws in the air, me rubbing his tummy with the Zoom Groom. In that moment he seemed so little, so warm and cuddly — so darn cute. I wish I could somehow transfer these amazing feelings to the families who are concerned about getting a dog due to all the hair. Let them know that, yes, the fur flurries are an inseparable part of the deal — but the sledding and snow angels make it so worth it!

p.s. I must give title credit to Gordon MacKenzie, author of my husband and I’s favorite book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball, A Corporate Fools Guide to Surviving with Grace.