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Hair of the Dog

About a year ago, the owner of my neighborhood pet store showed me a dog brush they'd gotten in, the FURminator. I was indifferent--it was just a dog brush. Then the owner loaded up an online video showing the brush swiftly removing from a golden retriever a pile of fur bigger than the dog itself. I was floored. Even though shedding had never been a major problem with Penny, my pitifully short-haired pit bull, I had to have that miracle brush.

I brought Penny into the shop to try the FURminator on her--nothing. She just didn't have enough fur for the brush to make any difference.

But things change. Recently Penny was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. One of the condition's symptoms in dogs is a sparse, thin coat. The medication to treat it did wonders for my dog's health--and her fur. For the first time, I was left with a handful of what looked and felt like dandelion fluff every time I ran my fingers through her coat. My lucky days of a shed-free dog were over. The fluff matted on my furniture, floated through rays of sunlight like dust motes, clogged drains. The first time I coughed up something resembling a hairball, I turned to my newly hirsute pooch. "I know what we need," I told her.

This time, I got to see the full effects of the FURminator. The brush works by tackling a dog's undercoat--the dandelion fluff with which I'm now well acquainted. The brush doesn't cut or rip anything, instead catching and removing the loose undercoat the dog has already shed but is still wearing around.

After half an hour with Penny, the FURminator yielded a big pile of fluffy undercoat, which went directly into the garbage rather than onto the furniture. After just one session, the shedding was gone. For the first time I could run my fingers through her coat and come away fluff-free. And the effects last--the FURminator promises to reduce shedding for four to six weeks.

The FURminator is pricier than most dog brushes--even some salon-grade hair brushes for humans don't run this high--but the brush has saved me from a life lived in a vortex of dog fluff, and as an allergy sufferer it has been a lifesaver. I wouldn't even imagine having a long-haired dog now without a FURminator, and friends with a golden retriever also swear by the brush.

The FURminator de-shedding tool is available in small, medium, large, feline and equine models, which range from $34.99 to $69.99 (MSRP) in pet stores. The demo videos that won me over are online at furminator.com.

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