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May 18, 2009 / Brittany Hendrick

Levin got Lennyed

Just what I needed.  I’m unemployed, still, and Levin had to go in for surgery again.  He’s normal one day, then the next it looks like a pus-bomb exploded on his butt.  Apparently, the gross stuff that Poodles need done on a regular basis, Komondors require the same.  I grew up with a Doberman that never needed anything special, and I hadn’t heard of it being done for Komondors, so what did I know.

I took Levin to the vet immediately.  As the vet tech explained away the hundreds of dollars I’d be spending on this one procedure, she offered to shave Levin while he was sedated.  It’d been a while since his last grooming, and I was going to inquire to the vet anyway.

“Yes, I was going to ask if you could shave his snout.  I have clippers at home, but he doesn’t cooperate for me.  And he’s so dirty…”

That’s not what the tech meant.  Since Levin’s butt would have to be shaved for surgery anyway, and since he has an afro on his hip from the cancer surgery last year, and since he hasn’t been very good about letting me work on his back legs… the tech wanted to shave him completely.

This surprised me, because I’m not sure the tech understood how much hard work has been invested in Levin’s coat, how long it’s taken to achieve the length– over five years!

Yet it’s not unusual for a Komondor to be shaven down– lots of owners do it every year for summer months.  I never considered it, because Levin is an inside dog… and I kind of like the fact that we got over the puppyfluff stage years ago and have been shed-free ever since.

I took a few seconds to think about it.  Sure, why not.  I can start over on his dreads– it won’t take nearly as long this time, now that we’re past puppyhood.  I’ve always been curious about what Levin REALLY looks like as an adult.  He’ll will be nice and cool this summer.  He’ll be happier.

I still can’t get over how different Levin looks.  I can’t stop looking at him, because he is nothing like the dog he was.  His coat is shiny and looks like velour.  He definitely is a skinny boy– which I knew– but to really see how skinny he is, is astounding… and obscene– his, ah, doghood is very prominent now.  Watching him run with his spindly legs is a hilarious sight– like a deer.  And I can’t figure out what other breed he resembles.  A white Weimaraner?  A blockheaded Borzoi?  An undocked Great Dane?  An overgrown Whippet?  It’s almost as if I can’t call him Levin anymore, like he’s another dog with another name.  My new nickname for him is Marmaduke.


And what is Levin’s reaction to himself?  Is he happier?  I think he is a tad psychologically damaged.  He is experiencing a new set of sensations– he’s not accustomed to feeling things without the dreadlock padding.  He’s no longer feeling the tug of dreadlocks twisting his skin.  His body temperature is more regulated– no more panting or moving from spot to spot because he’s too hot.  He loves having his head rubbed in circles– something we couldn’t do in the past.  But now, without the dreads, the “sweet spot” on his head doesn’t exist– two certain places caused him to tilt his head so far to the side, his tongue flopped out.

Levin knows he’s different, but he can’t put it into perspective.  I caught him staring at himself in the full-length mirror in my bedroom.  For years, we’ve played “Who’s that doggie in the mirror!!!”  And he’d look at us in the mirror, then up at me, then at the mirror again.  But what he did the other day was different, because he approached the mirror on his own and just stood there… like he was having an identity crisis.  Was this change too drastic for Levin’s psyche?

He’s been acting differently, but I can’t say yet if he’s depressed or if it’s the medication.  He’s still his tail-wagging self, even on the day of surgery.  But overall he has a more laid-back, relaxed demeanor.  Not that he was hyper before, but I see even more subduedness.  Either he thinks “I’m the shit” or he’s druggy or he’s unhappy.  Strangely, his eyes were more readable and expressive to me when he had hair.  Now, his eyes just look sad.

Also, Levin stays in bed with me all night.  He used to move around throughout the night, from bed to floor to bed to floor.  Instead of him keeping me warm, now I have to keep him warm.  This morning, his was laying behind me, his legs tangled, his head resting on mine.  This is unusual for him.



Leave a Comment
  1. Lillian / Jun 28 2009 6:19 pm

    Wow! Levin looks so different. It’s such a drastic change, and even though you explained the haircut in person, and even thought I just read through the story again, the last photo is still a little shocking. I hope the Levin isn’t too freaked out for real.


    • Brittany Hendrick / Jun 28 2009 6:36 pm

      Pictures forthcoming of my boy’s testicles. I happened to read a poem today, by Gary Snyder, called “The Bath,” in which he describes his baby son’s genitals. So, see, I’m not that bad!

      (By the way, I was looking through one of my poetry books for Delmore Schwartz’s “The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me”– I wasn’t trawling for testicle-ridden poems! But the phrase “set on a box” from Snyder’s poem caught my eye for some reason. And when a poem called “The Bath” has the opening line: “Washing Kai in the sauna,” you read on. Surprisingly, it’s all about a naked baby.)


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