DaDane of DaWeek

 Created: 02/14/05


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Meet Big Red – 

February 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. We spent 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 fox was sacrificed to make this hat, but 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. But that's the extent of his involvement. 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.)

For 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 is asked of 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. Jackson 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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