Beth Dolinar

Column Beth Dolinar

Beth Dolinar has been writing her column about life, both hers and the rest of ours, for over 20 years. When not on the page, she produces Emmy-winning documentaries for public television, teaches writing to university students, and enjoys her two growing children.

The good, the bad and the fuzzy

June 26, 2014

My dog Howard has a brother named Harry. They were littermates in Amish country, Ohio, and my good friend Maria and her family drove out to bring Harry home the same day we brought Howard home.

Maria’s family selected the peppy, active puppy; mine went for the largest and slowest of the bunch. Maybe that says something about our family profiles, but there’s no question we are talking two different dog personalities.

Howard is a tad heftier, but otherwise they are identical brothers.

Being soft-coated Wheaten terriers, they need grooming several times a year. Howard doesn’t like it, but he puts up with the clipping and the shaving. We’ve never had a bad report.

Harry, on the other hand, has been blackballed from every grooming business within 50 miles of here. Seems ol’ Harry is a nervous wreck while getting his hair done, and in the past two years has refused to sit still, barked and whined incessantly and, worst of all, deployed a spectacular case of the runs while on the grooming table.

In each instance, the groomer gave up and called the family to come and get Harry. In one case, Harry left the salon half hairy and half not.

If you let a Wheatie grow out you have a fur ball – cute and cuddly in the winter but miserable in the summer. Maria tried clipping Harry herself, but the coat is so thick that without professional tools, you’d have to be Edward Scissorhands to make inroads.

I sympathized with Maria’s story, but secretly I was thinking, “A-HAH! That’s what you get for picking the one with all the personality.”

Harry is not a bad dog. The family loves him, and he’s adorable. But the same pep that compelled him to launch himself off every grooming table in town also inspired him, during an important meeting at Maria’s house, to leap from the top of the stairs onto the head of a school board member.

Since Harry’s mug shot hangs on the wall of every grooming salon in the metropolitan area, Maria took another route and called a mobile grooming van. Apparently, news of Harry’s proclivities had not yet reached her ear.

She pulled into the driveway, invited Harry inside, closed the door and set to work. Within minutes, the kids called Maria at work to report that there was “shouting and barking and the van was shaking and rocking.”

Two hours later, the groomer emerged, exhausted but triumphant. Score: Groomer 1, Harry 0. The dog was dapper again.

I’ve thought a lot about Harry these past few days. If a dog is like an adopted child, then it can be argued that the brother of my adopted dog is my son, too. If I see the groomer, maybe I should apologize, and thank her for her vigor and patience.

And then I look at Howard, sleeping at my feet. He doesn’t jump on the heads of school board members, and he doesn’t act like a fool at the groomer’s. And I pat his fuzzy head and say, “Good dog.”

Beth Dolinar can be reached at



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