– Meet Big Red –
14, 2005 – Last summer,
while we were in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky,
Russia, a group of us went shopping at one of the town's small open-air
markets. This particular
street market was home to a bizarre collection of bizarre people
selling bizarre merchandise to equally bizarre customers.
a couple hours
wandering around. The people were very friendly. Just before we left,
we came upon a stall full of fur hats – hundreds of them.
They covered the stall's three flimsy walls from top to bottom. For
the record, I had no intention of buying a hat. I
didn't need a hat. I didn't want a hat.
However, my companions – a small group of men, including my husband
– had other ideas. "Try on a hat," they said. "No," I said.
"Just one hat," they said. "Okay. Maybe one."
And that, my friends,
is how I ended up with Big Red, a huge aromatic hat made out of luxurious
red fox fur. I love Big Red, I truly do. Yes, OF COURSE, I am sorry
that a beautiful red
after one winter season with Big Red, I now understand why people in
frigid climates – like Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in southern
Siberia – treasure their fur(s). I have never had a warmer
hat. I love how it feels, how it smells, and most of all, I love how
well it protects me from the elements.
The very first time Merlin
saw Big Red, six months ago, he wanted nothing to do with the hat – or
me. Maybe he thought there was a dead fox perched
on my head. (I suppose that wasn't too far from the truth.) Now that
he's used to Big Red, Merlin likes to give it a good long sniff every
now and then.
Merlin will not permit me to place Big
Red upon his head. Ever. That's where he draws the line. Merlin is
like that about some things. (Remember the Merlin-mobile? Merlin still
refuses to climb into it.)
some reason, I've had a hankering – just lately – to
photograph Big Red on a fawn or brindle Great Dane. So I rang my neighbor,
Cindy Niske, and asked her
if she thought Jackson would mind wearing Big Red for a little
while. It was a reasonable request. Jackson's a show dog, and like
most show dogs, he's fundamentally gentle, well-mannered, and (usually)
willing to do whatever
him, as long as it isn't life-threatening. Cindy said "come-on!" So,
camera in hand, I hopped in the Merlin-mobile and rushed right over.
was ready and waiting. He approached Big Red with enthusiasm and gave
the hat a thorough sniff. So far, so good. Then as Cindy tried to slip
Big Red on Jackson's head, he gave her a look that said "you've
got to be kidding." He ducked and slinked away. It took a couple
of tries before Jackson finally accepted the hat. I thought it looked
quite nice on him, especially with his fawn coloring, and I was able
to get approximately 20 decent photos. Mission accomplished!
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