My parents had a black standard poodle named Connie. Connie was short for Lady Constance of Boston Manor. (My parents are British and funny and love dogs.) Like most standard poodles, Connie needed regular grooming at what my mom likes to call the “poodle parlour”. Somewhere along the way, my mom learned that you could save the hair from each dog grooming/shearing session and eventually get the hair spun into wool and then the wool made into a sweater.
A poodle sweater.
People actually do this and one of those people is my mom. My mom, who loves projects, set out to make a poodle sweater. I don’t know how long it took, but she diligently saved the hair from each grooming, then took it to the spinner and had a sweater made. For me!
It was my special Christmas gift that she had planned all year. (Side note, my mom is of Jewish descent and loves Christmas more than anyone I know. It’s confusing.)
My husband (then boyfriend/common-law) and I were living out west that Christmas and we were both working over the holidays. We didn’t have enough time off to go back to Ontario. (Very upsetting for my Jewish/atheist/Christmas loving mom.) I received my Christmas package that morning and opened my sweater. Then, during our Christmas phone call (after the Queen’s Christmas address), my mom explained the unique origins of the sweater.
I definitely had an appreciation for all of the effort and thought that goes into the making of a poodle sweater. I hate writing this or even thinking this, but I was not nearly as excited about this extraordinary gift as my mother was. I loved Connie (rest in peace), but I had never lived with her because my parents got her after I had left home (actually it was my parents who left home, but that is another story). She was never my dog, so having a sweater made of her hair was not sentimental for me and something about it was a little bit creepy. I tried on the sweater and went to the bathroom to check it out in the mirror. It was a big chunky blackish-brownish sweater. I was most impressed by how warm it was. Dog hair is an excellent insulator. Who knew?
I then put the sweater away and went back to whatever it was that we had planned for the rest of the day. When we came back home, I went to the bathroom. Much to my dismay, there were little black curly hairs all over the bathroom counter, in the sink, and on the floor. I had only lived with my boyfriend for a short time and I was horrified to think what had gone on in this bathroom. I was thinking, “Dude, if you are going to trim, trim, but you’ve got to clean up after yourself! This is disgusting!” I held on to that haughty righteousness for a while and then I looked down at the short black curly hairs that were covering every surface of the bathroom and I realized that these were not a product of overzealous man-scaping. They came from the sweater. My mom had made me a special pube sweater for Christmas and it was shedding pubes everywhere.
I didn’t wear the pube sweater much because of the pube shedding problem and because it was weird. When Lady Constance of Boston Manor was laid to rest, I returned the sweater to my mom, its rightful owner. It was her dog and I think that what my mom really wanted was for someone to give her a gift that was so full of thoughtfulness and love. And so I did.