A leading scientist believes that the reason hairy mammals shake themselves is an evolutionary adaptation that aids the animal in continued existence. The idea is that once a hairy mammal is wet, in order to return to dry as quickly as possible, a jolly good shake will scatter the water droplets far and wide, leaving its coat about 70% dry.
I reckon they also enjoy it because it feels good. At least that’s what I’ve observed. At the end of their bath, the poodles take great delight in covering the bathroom (and everything in it) with droplets of drenching water. Immediately afterwards, their tails spring to attention and their faces show joy unconfined.
There was recently a programme on the BBC which used super slow photography to show how a dog shakes itself. The shake starts at the head and, flowing like a wave, ends at the tail. They also have the ability to shake at a rate of four to five times a second.
I can now attest to the power and distribution qualities of this evolutionary achievement.
This morning, I’d decided I was well enough to go and visit Mirinda in town. The idea was we’d spend the day together, perhaps visit Greenwich and end with dinner somewhere nice.
My first thought was to check the trains, given the fact that Sunday is generally considered the best day for inconveniencing engineering work to take place. And how right I was to do so. Rather than any direct trains to London from Farnham, the train would be shuttling to Guildford, where the traveller had to change to a London train.
This isn’t as bad as it sounds and only adds about half an hour to the journey. The only real problem comes with the return trip when the traveller maybe stuck on Guildford station, having missed the connecting train. This could mean an hour on a draughty platform.
Anyway, having ascertained the facts and weighed up the risks, I was about to check the Tube engineering works (the Jubilee Line is a regular victim to non-running on the weekends) when Day-z trotted in from the garden.
Just before settling myself on the lounge, netbook on two cushions on my lap, I’d spotted her start her morning toilet ritual. This comprises a bit of a stiff legged wander around the garden looking for a suitable spot before crouching and performing her ablutions.
Unlike her sister (and most mammals) she doesn’t ever manage to get it all out in one go. So, the (almost) comical sight of Day-z staggering around the garden, still in a preparatory position, stopping on occasion and depositing, is something we’re quite used to. Today I found out what happens when this ritual isn’t completed properly.
Having returned to the house, Day-z, tail high and happy, jumped up onto the lounge at my feet and, smile broad and with complete abandon, proceeded to shake herself.
[Anyone with a weak stomach should probably stop reading at this point.]
I immediately knew there was something amiss when my nose automatically shut down, assaulted as it was by such foul odour usually reserved for foxes. It was then the turn of my eyes which widened in shock and disbelief at the vision before them.
Day-z, her tail still up and cheerful, had manage to spray the end of the lounge, the lounge cover, the floor, the wall, the two cushions, part of the coffee table, in fact, everything apart from my netbook, in the remains of her ablutions.
It took a few seconds for my brain to come to terms with this sudden change to the room but the smell rising from my pyjamas swiftly brought me to my senses as my automatic nasal shutdown mechanism failed under duress.
In a word, it was disgusting. The room had gone from a pretty normal (if somewhat small) typically Surrey house lounge room into a warzone where the bullets had been replaced with chocolate and the smell of cordite exchanged for a much more unpleasant scent.
I (carefully) leapt to me feet and grabbed Day-z, lifting her tail, realising what had happened (like, I really needed to work it out!) and rushed her into the downstairs toilet in order to remove the sloppy remains from her digestive tract. It was tough not to gag but I didn’t want to upset her so I ploughed on, assuming that parents with small babies, go through this sort of thing all the time.
We then went straight to the bathroom, where the shower head was aimed at the offending end, hosing her clean.
Sorting Day-z out was a minor inconvenience compared to the rest of it. When I returned to the lounge room it looked like the results of an explosion in a chocolate factory only a lot less sweet.
The rest of the morning was spent in a tsunami of disinfectant and with a constantly running washing machine. It was not pleasant work particularly for someone recovering from the lurgy.
It put paid to our full day together but I did manage to leave the house by 1:30 and we spent a lovely evening together, wandering around Canary Wharf, drinking at a pleasant pub and eating Deliverance food.
Carmen, I feel I should mention, didn’t move throughout any of the above, remaining unscathed in the unaffected half of the lounge room.