Oscar, my beautiful Beardie, is very high maintenance. He is eighteen months old now and fully grown. His enormous fluffy pale cream puppy coat is slowly being replaced by a darker grown up jacket. But even if I do say so myself, he is drop dead gorgeous by anyone's standards. He is a big gentle lion with the softest eyes and an impressive turn of speed.
Luckily for me Anita Bax, former International Dog Groomer of the Year, rather handily lives just around the corner. So every two weeks he goes in to her home-based hi-tech salon at 9am and she beavers away sometimes to 6.30pm to restore him to gorgeousness. One day in fourteen he looks like a stuffed toy, well for a good half an hour of it at least. People who don't even like dogs want to pat him in that brief window. The rest of the time only immediate family members can stand the muddy paws and the stinky beard.
I could probably stop him getting filthy by stopping him mixing with Tess, our madcap Springer Spaniel. But life would be very dull if we did that. The two have such adventures together. But I have to say, much of what they get up to is not witnessed and we can only piece it together from the forensic evidence.
Anita recalled her assistant complaining when she got stung by a nettle secreted in Oscar's undercarriage. "That's nothing," she retorted. "I found a dead frog in his coat last time!"
A dead frog! In a dog? Is this a first? It was for Anita.