That’s what you get when you don’t comb out your Irish Water Spaniel for two weeks: mats and knots.
Especially if that Irish Water Spaniel is Tooey.
Cooper, now, he’s easy. For whatever reason, his coat is not thick. That has its down sides, like not being thick enough to protect the skin between the pads of his feet. But one of the up sides is that he’s easy to comb out.
In his grooming session earlier this week, he was so easy and fast to comb out that I had it done one morning before I went to work. I found one measly little mat between a couple of toes on his front feet. So small that I could work it out with my fingers.
Tooey, the sweet darling, is another story.
Her coat is so thick that if I don’t keep up with her grooming — if I don’t comb her out completely every week — then I pay. And so does she. I end up having to spend at least an hour, or more, combing, brushing, or cutting out the mats and knots, and she has to put up with it. And neither one of us likes it much at all.
Her last brush-out and bath was the day we got home from our last hunting trip. That morning, she’d rolled delightedly in something not visible. It wasn’t poop, but it probably was urine of some kind. Stinky, musky, pervasive, and she loved it.
So without even letting her out of the car, I quickly unpacked the car, whisked her to you-bathe-it place, and got her clean. That was 15 days ago.
I spend the intervening time procrastinating. I should have known I would pay.
So last evening, I spent a good 1-1/2 hours working with the detangling spray, slicker brush, pin brush, poodle comb, and regular comb, working out all the knots and debris.
She had knots behind each ear, more between her front toes, and one or two in each arm pit.
She kind of likes getting her ears brushed and combed. That spot in the back of her head, where the ear is attached to the skull — that’s one of her favorite places to get scratched. So the combing probably feels good to her.
But her feet and armpits? Brushing, and combing especially, appear to be torture. I spray the detangler liberally on those spots, brush it through, and then go on to less sensitive areas while waiting for it to do its job.
But eventually, I have to get the knots out between the toes. That is a battle. At the least pull on a mat, she starts trying her best to get her feet away from me. If I can’t get the mat out quickly, I usually resort quickly to scissoring them out. She’s not a show dog anymore, so it’s okay if the coat on her feet looks slightly misshapen for awhile.
The underarms are almost worse. Last night, I laid her on her side on the grooming table, and had Russ feed her treats while I combed her armpits as gently as I could. When I got all the knots out, I clipped the fur under there with the hope that this will cut down on future mats.
But really, the only cure is to brush her once a week. No excuses. No procrastination. I know better — I just need to follow my own advice. And we’ll both be happier.