My children hate me right now. Doors have been slammed. Names have been called. They’ve both teamed up against me with tears, threats and accusations.
It’s like I murdered Christmas.
What’s my heinous crime? I took our poodle, Merlin, to the groomers and got him a dramatic new haircut. It’s called “The German Trim,” and I think he’s adorable.
Merlin has a shaved face, tail and ears, and a short clip around the rest of his body up through his head, almost like a mohawk. I think Merlin looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s arm candy. He looks like he could spring into Angela Merkel’s lap for a quick snuggle.
My children think Merlin looks horrible.
“You guys do know that the word ‘poodle’ comes from the German word ‘pudel,’ right?” I asked, trying to defend myself. “This might be Merlin’s natural style.”
“Mom,” my son said with a fierce edge to his voice, “the only acceptable cut is The Puppy Clip with a clean face. You know that. We’ve been over this before.”
“You made Merlin look ridiculous,” my daughter sobbed. She was still crying an hour later.
“What do you think?” I asked my husband when he got home from work.
He shrugged. “I think you made Merlin look stupid, but I gave up on having an opinion about dog aesthetics three years ago when you brought a miniature poodle into our home.”
I’m not sure why my children love The Puppy Clip so much. It’s not very poodle-y. The Puppy Clip turns Merlin into a fluff-ball that picks up dirt like he’s a Swiffer. When I take Merlin on a walk for his morning constitutional, he comes back with dried leaves and blackberry brambles stuck to his fur.
If I had my way, Merlin would change his appearance every two months. The Bikini, The Continental, The Lamb Cut, The Scandinavian — there are so many ways to spice a poodle up. But my children have strict standards; it’s The Puppy Clip or there will be hell to pay.
The day after Merlin’s makeover, I walked him up to school for the morning drop-off, and all of the local children commented on his new appearance. Opinions were divided: They either loved it or thought he looked silly.
Merlin, as tolerant as ever, sniffed each hand that petted him and snuck in a few licks while he was at it. He only has a few teeth left, so I never worry about him biting.
As I walked back home, I thought about the costs of dog ownership. Merlin is only 14 pounds. A trip to the groomers costs between $51 at a pet store chain or upwards of $100 for our favorite mobile groomer. That’s more money than I spend on my own hair cut. Some doodle owners learn to groom their dogs themselves. I’ve considered this — but yuck. Learn to squeeze anal glands? No thank you.
Since Merlin is 13 years old, our days of paying for grooming are numbered. Until then, I’ve relented and agreed to keep him young with future Puppy Clips.
But in the meantime, Merlin’s putting the pudel in poodle. Hands off, Angela Merkel. This doggie’s mine.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and her pseudonym, Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.