Grooming is a Necessity, not Vanity

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Big Cottonwood Canyon just 20 minutes driving distance from our new home. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been! We’re so fortunate to live here in Utah – the scenery here will take your breath away.

Ava & Annabelle looking for some fish :-)
Ava & Annabelle looking for some fish 🙂

While walking around Silver Lake, we came across several ducks that were busy preening their feathers (grooming themselves).

These ducks were grooming themselves the entire time we were there. They spend hours each day preening their feathers.
      These ducks were grooming themselves the entire time we were there. They spend hours each day preening.

While watching them groom themselves, I realized that this is exactly how I groom dogs! We watched them pull clumps of down feathers out, which would be comparable to the dog’s undercoat. They also used their beaks to evenly distribute oils all throughout their feathers. By doing so, they’re able to repel the dust and moisture away from their bodies keeping them buoyant and clean. The same reason I believe that we should brush our dogs more and bathe them less. By brushing more we’re able to keep their natural oils evenly distributed all throughout their coat, keeping them clean and comfortable. I found a nice article that explains what preening is, and why it is so important. The information is actually true about dogs too! Just replace “birds” with “dogs” and it works the same.

“Birds have up to 25,000 feathers, and regular preening keeps each feather in top condition. Second only to feeding, preening is a common bird behavior easily observed in a backyard or out in the field, and understanding why and how birds preen can help birders better appreciate their beautiful avian friends.

What Is Preening?

Preening is a bird’s way of grooming its feathers to keep them in the best condition.

While preening, birds will remove dust, dirt and parasites from their feathers and align each feather in the optimum position relative to adjacent feathers and body shape. Most birds will preen several times a day to keep themselves healthy.”

I remember watching a documentary on Beavers, and it was startling how the information regarding their grooming habits related to dogs. Beavers secrete oil from the base of their tail, and they spend hours and hours each day spreading the oil evenly all throughout their coat. If they did not do so, they would freeze to death and could not survive. Nobody looks at a beaver and thinks to themselves, “How vain?!” When we saw the ducks at Silver Lake, nobody there said, “Look at them. How vain?!” Because grooming is not vanity – it is a necessity! Why then do we look at dog grooming and think that it is a luxury or that the owner is vain? Grooming is essential to all animal life! We would die an early death, and also be miserable while we’re alive if we never groomed ourselves.

Dog grooming is not about making dogs pretty and fluffy. That’s a nice side-effect of proper grooming, but that’s not why we do it. We groom our dogs to keep them in good health, and to keep their oils evenly distributed all throughout their coat. This applies to all breeds, and all coat types. They must be brushed regularly. It is not a luxury. Tasty treats and dog parks are a luxury, regular grooming is not. It requires our time and our sweat. Grooming is Love in Action. Nature has provided a way for us to show our dogs in a very clear and obvious way that we care about them. By brushing them regularly, and keeping their skin feeling good, we are repaying them for all that they do for us. Rather than think, “My dog smells, I have to wash him,” we can instead think to ourselves, “My dog smells, I have to brush him.” We must work with Mother Nature, and Nature requires our time and effort.

To see what Grooming (Love in Action) looks like in Nature, please take a look at this video 🙂 

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