When we were showing her, Zsa Zsa's coat always required a great deal of fussing.
"There is no such thing as the perfect dog" is the AKC mantra and, to be sure, just about every breed requires a certain amount of grooming before entering the show ring. Like every other dog, Zsa Zsa had her "issues." She was on the small size (she prefers the term "petite"), though well within the standard -- and her coat at time could be iffy.
This is nothing strange -- bitches blow their coats when they're in heat. So she was always either in the process of blowing her coat or in the process of getting her coat back. Somewhere in there was a window for me to show her, an undertaking neither of us enjoyed at the time (though it did once garner us a "pity placement" -- a story for another time).
These days, Zsa Zsa's job is much different. She is the ambassador at work. She is the first staff member volunteers meet when they come to the farm and, as far as I know, no one who knows the official Australian Shepherd standard has ever deigned to pull a weed or pluck an onion on our premises. No one really cares about the quality of her coat or whether her paws look high and tight or if her black areas have a red cast to it.
Bascially, Zsa Zsa needs to not stink and her tail area (Australian Shepherd are not supposed have tails) is clean.
Fluffed and combed -- okay. But, above all else -- Zsa Zsa must not stink. Her coat can be too limp or too silky -- doesn't matter.
So she is primped and bathed on a regular basis to prevent stinkage and I keep her trimmed pretty closely so that the area of concern is not...a concern.
Recently, though, it occurred to me that I was spending a lot of time pulling out thick undercoat. In fact, I was spending more time than ever pulling out thick undercoat. Plus I was having to trim her britches -- that's the back of her rear and her hind legs, an area that used to suffer the worse affects of her lady-cycle. In the old days, once I'd pulled out dead undercoat, there wasn't a whole lot left to work with.
These days, however, I have to thin it out and cut it short and generally weed-whack Zsa Zsa's britches. I've never had to do this before.
Where? Where? Where was this wonderful, thick coat when I was trying to show her?
When I was learning from Mamma K to show-groom an Australian Shepherd, she taught me to put a "smiley face" where their tail would be. Well, there's no show, but I still like to see Zsa Zsa's butt smile.