My So-Called Hairy Life

Nellie. Photo by Susannah Kay

Red, brown and white are the predominant colors of my wardrobe these days. Trust me, this is not an intentional fashion statement. My horses’ shedding season has begun in earnest, and the colors of their hair coats (chestnut, bay and gray) dictate the hues that will adorn my clothing for the next several weeks. Try as I might to keep my horsin’ around clothes separate from my other garments, that horse hair is very sneaky. It manages to find its way into everything! By the way, here’s a tip for the uninitiated. While in the midst of a horse grooming session, the most effective way to remove horsehair from one’s mouth is via spitting. Trying to remove it with one’s fingers (bound to be laden with hair) simply replaces a couple of hairs with a dozen others. Those of you with horses know exactly what I’m talking about.

All that horsehair does have some redeeming qualities. It keeps my 1,000 pound babies nice and warm all winter, and provides awesome nest building material this time of year. What I appreciate most about my horses’ hair coats is their ability to accurately predict the weather. This past fall, their coats grew to the plushness level of a wooly mammoth, and their recent shedding spree has gotten off to a very late start. This all makes perfect sense given the severity and duration of the winter we’ve just experienced. For my money, a horse’s hair coat is just as good, if not better, than any Farmer’s Almanac.

Then there’s the matter of the dog hair. How is it that my eleven-pound Nellie sheds just as much as a 60-pound Labrador? Her hair is white and bristly and impossible to miss, particularly on my new couches. Technically speaking, Nellie is not “allowed” on this new furniture but, because we don’t patrol at night, she manages to “couch surf” most every evening (this in spite of the fact that we have more than a dozen cushy, comfy dog beds scattered around throughout our home). Quinn sheds a whole lot less than his lil’ sis, but his hair coat is of that super fine variety, and the hairs cling steadfastly to everything they contact.

Why is it that manufacturers of vacuum cleaners and lint rollers haven’t figured out how to identify and hit on fur balls like me? I should be easy to “profile” based on my online activities: shopping for pet supplies, reading horse and dog training blogs, and marathon You Tube sessions watching only cute animal videos. Someone really should tell these companies they are missing out on a lucrative opportunity!

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to wear a sweatshirt devoid of animal hair. How many times have my kids heard me say, “It’s an excellent source of protein,” after finding a pet hair on their dinner plate? Do my yoga instructors know that I’m the reason they must spend extra time sweeping after class? These are the kinds of questions that cross this animal lover’s mind.

Would I consider a life without animals in exchange for a lifestyle devoid of pet hair? Not in a million years!

Can you relate to any of this? I sure hope so because, as that old saying goes, “Misery loves company!”

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at,, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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15 Comments on “My So-Called Hairy Life

  1. Dr.Kay,
    Oh boy can i relate to this Hairy subject. I thought i was the only one that spit out horse hair, guess not!
    Its amazing to me where my dogs hairs end up—in the freezer? How does this happen?
    I have three Cane Corso’s that love to cuddle up to the wood stove. It’s been such a cold winter i don’t blame them but it triggers them to shed. Do you think they can shed all at once —no of course not. That would be too easy. Needless to say its vacuum every other day or eat hair,wear hair.
    What a small price to pay for their unconditional love!!!!


  2. So funny, so true. Currently watching clouds of curly white fur move across the floor. Curly (he came aptly named) snoozing but his shedding coat is wide awake, leaping off and dashing into the freshly swept corners.

    I once dogsat a Husky for a year. The owner said not to brush but to pick the hair off in tufts. The Husky would tolerate my doing this, but not brushing. The technique worked for that particular dog.

    The birds are happy with the fur, using it to line nests.

  3. Whoever invented those sticky rollers is a saint! Do not go out the door without running one over your clothes. Put them away with the hairy sheet still on them so they don’t stick to everything in the drawer, then tear it off to get a sticky one to use.
    My mother used to say what we needed was a navy blue cat.

  4. I have a sign in my kitchen that says ‘Cook is not responsible for Berner hair in the food’. I travel for work and I love getting dressed on day 3 of a business trip and finding dog hair on an outfit that went straight from a dry cleaning bag to a suitcase. It just tells me my boy is traveling with me! A hairy house is a happy house as it’s a house with a animal!

  5. I’ve lived with Golden retrievers for almost twenty years and have a plaque in my home that says, “No outfit is complete without dog hair”…it hangs in a prominent place! A corollary would be, as someone suggested, “No meal is complete without dog hair”.

  6. There is an unwritten rule for guests and visitors to my home: DON’T wear anything black because of Casper my white cat and DON’T wear anything white because of Serendipity my black cat”. As for the dogs, my Navidad the Chihuahua-x has brown/grey/cream coloring so she qualifies as “neutral” but my Artemis, the Rat Terrier is white with black markings, so the above rule would appply to her.

    Fortunately, all my friends and relatives are “fur-people” and as long as I have a lot of lint-rollers avaiolable and I hand it to them, they are most tolerant and courteous about it.

    Vaccum up animal fur? All the manufacturers are liars – none of them are efficient and they tend to clog…..but to love without the wall-to-wall fur? No way!

  7. 18 cats, 5 dogs, 32 horses, 2 goats, a goat and a steer all shedding at Hoofs and Woofs Animal Rescue which doubles as my home. I loved reading your article.
    If you are lucky enough to have two cars it helps. Of course before going to a formal affair you pull the clean de-furred vehicle into the driveway close to the front door, put out treats and bones, get dressed and run like mad to get to the car before anyone can brush their colorful fur onto your fancy duds. So going to formal affairs is limited as it’s difficult upon returning home to keep the hair off.
    I love my hair problems. They suit me well. I top the beds with a huge sheets, easy to wash often to reduce hairy lips upon waking. Don’t miss the fancy bedspreads. Bunch of happy cats are more rewarding.
    Tile floor is great as is the Rainbow Vacuum Cleaner. It uses water to filter and when you empty the canister it is a big wet hairball that does not go airborne. Better than a broom as it reduces the accumulation of hair on the freezer motor, counter tops, etc. My appliance repair bills have gone down as it can reach under dryer and fridge. If I had a penny for every hair in this house I would never have to ask anyone else to help fund the rescue efforts.
    Keep up the great hair stories. We at Hoofs and Woofs Animal Rescue love your articles.

  8. My friends T-shirt says “Dog hair is a condiment!” When I got my miniature horse I was unaware that they have 3 times as much hair as a full sized horse. She’s white and in winter some people do a double take thinking there is a Polar Bear in my pasture! She too followed the weather and has now declared spring is here and she won’t be needing her fur coat anymore. I love my “Polar Bear” but I love finding my pretty little horse under there even more. Then it is great when her hair appears in an old bird nest. Appreciate the laugh today. Thanks!

  9. LOL! I used to wear a lot of knit clothes before I got my first cats. Now I wear jeans. Hair sticks to it less. Sometimes I wait until right before I leave the house to get dressed and try to slip out without anyone touching me.

    Doesn’t matter though because then I sit in a car filled with dog hair. I agree that there are some things more important than hair. I could be sweeping my floor to get that daily 2 dustpan full of hair supply, but instead I am watching my lab play with his toy giraffe.

    He is throwing it up in the air and squeaking it like crazy, shaking it back and forth, taking it outside and bringing it back in. His little (60lb) feet make the most lovely sound on the floor. I guess if the hair bothered my pets I would do something about it, till then though….

  10. Nancy: you only have ONE falcon in your bedroom??? LOL!

  11. When I got my first husky, I spent the next 2 years trying to brush the dog hair off my clothes. (For those who do not know, huskies, shed twice a year: once from April to October, and again from October to April). After 2 fruitless years, I gave up. After a while, I didn’t really feel completely dressed if I wasn’t wearing a certain amount of dog hair. Now when I see people with no pet hair on their clothes, I just feel sorry for them.

  12. This blog had me chuckling all the way through! I can relate to the hair everywhere issue! My three horses are shedding like crazy. That shed hair really grabs on to my jacket and clothes. Thank God I work in an animal related field! It is easier to get away with hair on my uniform. I have a pair of gloves with a rubber type palm that works really great for grabbing hair by just petting your horse. Our maine coon cat keeps me having to “brush my couch” on a regular basis. The thought has crossed my mind to just shave her since she is an inside cat…but I believe she heard me thinking that thought and just glared at me. So, I will continue to brush my couch and lint roller my “important clothes” and banish her from our bedroom. I am not sleeping on a fur covered pillow!!! Happy spring everyone!!

  13. I had to laugh reading this article because I can totally relate to both horse and dog hair, as well as cat hair. My day wouldn’t be complete without it, like you said, not in a million years!

  14. We had Siberians…shed like sheep. We have German Wirehaired a slick coat so we have the bristle type hair you mentioned, and we have the knotted, ropey stuff from my brillo-pad. Now my husband has a Gordon Setter…BIG, LOTS OF FEATHERS…Setters are the worst and my son’s Golden is the same…drifts of fur rolling across the floor like tumbleweeds…the English setter we had before and also the Brittany were the same. But the worst…On Letterman’s TOP TEN…the falcon in the bedroom. I resorted to skinning out her quail when two Dysons were threatening to give up, soon as I did, she started molting…like the horses and dogs, it is timed for the seasons. Now we are going to die from inhaling feather particles I think. If you have critters, you have “seasonal debris”. I am with you on that! nancy cowan