Our dog Sherman has been having a small problem of late….OK, so maybe it’s a little bigger than a small problem. In fact, Sherman’s problem is probably pretty big when you consider all the side effects he is going to have to put up with. Sherman is slowly and systematically going bald. Not just a little bit around the head or maybe a few thin spots along his legs…he is experiencing some massive hair loss along his entire back. (My sons fondly harbor the delusion that his tummy fur is not only still intact, but growing lush and luxuriantly. They apparently need some small ray of hope to hold on to in this time of crisis.)
Sherman is a Chihuahua that is mostly brown with small areas that have tan and white markings. He is adorable…or at least he used to be. For some reason, all the brown fur on his body is slowly falling out. Luckily the skin under his brown fur is also brown, so his grotesque appearance isn’t readily apparent at first glance. However, it takes less than a moment to realize that when you put your hand out to pet our dog, you will not be touching a soft, sleek coat of fur. Your hand will come in close contact with naked dog skin.
His adorability has suffered greatly because of his nudity, although we all pretend that he is still the most handsome dog on the face of the earth. But, this charade is getting a bit difficult since his white and tan fur is all still full and showing no signs of falling out. Unfortunately, he has a little strip of this white fur running down the back of his head and along the top of his neck, giving him the appearance of a dog sporting a white Mohawk. Not really the best look for him. But this is only one of the little side effects he is going to have to deal with because of his male pattern baldness.
A larger problem Sherman’s hair loss is causing is that he has decided to drop all his hairs right in the middle of the coldest time of year. He is normally a trembling type of dog anyway, but this winter is going to be a shiver fest for him if he keeps this up. In trying to alleviate some of his worse trembling, I have made him several sweaters, but so far, I have been unable to come up with a sweater pattern that covers his back end well enough to keep his tail warm and yet stay out of the way of his , shall we say, personal bathroom activities. He should probably be down on his knees thanking us for choosing the stay in the warmer states during this winter.
One of the biggest problems with his hair loss, however, has been my overactive imagination. I have gone through several different theories to explain his nakedness and each time my husband has had to work hard to bring me back to reality. My theories have gone from intestinal worms to terminal cancer. But, as strange as some of my theories have been, the actual truth about dog hair loss is much stranger. We have been told of one dog that lost all his hair because he was allergic to grass and needed Benadryl treatments.
Many dogs lose their hair due to some type of flea or skin irritant. But, after checking him and giving him multiple baths, I came to the conclusion that not only did he NOT have any fleas, but also that no self-respecting flea would be caught dead on a hair-less dog. I was also a little disturbed to find myself wondering why I was using shampoo on a dog with no hair and pondered the use of hand cream instead…but that’s beside the point.
Finally, we could stand the suspense no longer, and took Sherman to an expert to help us explain his hair rejecting antics. After spending over $150 the vet looked at him and confirmed my belief that Sherman had neither skin irritant nor flea anywhere on his body. He also, smilingly, assured us that cancer was not a high probability in our dog. After testing for worms, he also pronounced Sherman’s intestines clean and healthy. So, what was the cause of Sherman’s hair loss? Well, our esteemed animal doctor decided that Sherman’s problem was simply hormonal.
Now, as a woman who has known the joys of menopause, I was enraged by the fact that my dog had found a better way to get attention and affection through hormonal imbalance. I have been sweating through hot flashes, waking with night sweats, suffering through emotional outbursts beyond my ability to control and have gotten little to no sympathy from my husband or sons. Yet my dog drops a few hairs and the entire family gathers around him to come up with a solution to his problem. Maybe I should pull a few hairs out and see if I get any sympathy…or maybe not.
The vet’s nurse did suggest a Rogaine treatment, but that’s where I put my foot down. I am NOT going to be giving my dog Rogaine treatments. In fact, I am beginning to look at Sherman’s hair loss just like any man’s hair loss. I tend to agree with the woman who once asked why men were so upset with being bald. Her theory was that “If you are bald, just be bald and shut up about it.”
Of course she also said it was wonderful to have a bald husband because then you have a handy place to put your gum at night when you go to bed, but let’s not go there. No, for our dog there will be no Rogaine, there will be no hair plugs, there will be no wigs, and there will definitely be no comb overs. If God has seen fit to give us a bald dog, we will be the proud owners of a bald dog, no matter how naked and freakish he may look. But, I just might have to shave off that white Mohawk.