Patti Soldavini

Bristlers

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/27/2011 at 10:59 am

"Yup, those are my PINS."

This is how I refer to Olive’s whiskers; as “bristlers,” because they are so stiff and prickly that they poke right through my slacks when she lays her head across my lap. Each has the tensile strength of a suspension cable on the George Washington Bridge. (They look deceptively thin and gentle in the photo.) “OUCH! HOLY CHRIST, OLIVE, HAVE YOU BEEN SHARPENING YOUR WHISKERS? I THINK I’M BLEEDING.” Not really, but my lap begins to feel like a pin cushion when she tries to burrow deeper into it like she’s flushing a fox out of a dark den. The first time this happened, I wondered if a Weim’s whiskers were any different than other dogs. I didn’t remember being “pincushioned” by Idgy’s whiskers. Or should I say, vibrissae, which I just learned is what a dog’s whiskers are really called. They are described as “finely tuned sensory structures,” and “while the hairs themselves don’t contain nerve endings, their base is surrounded by erectile tissue and a rich nerve supply.” This sounds like the set-up for a dirty joke, doesn’t it? And then there’s the extra sharpshooting whiskers, two on each side of Olive’s face poking out of the center of moles. I guess these help her navigate her way down the dark hallway while she’s tracking the scent of a micron of day-old food that’s been crushed deep into the nylon fibers of the carpet. So, if the vibrissae are so sensitive, I wonder what it feels like when dogs play with other dogs, mixing it up and “whiskering” each other. I’m guessing it feels pretty good. What do you have to say about this subject Olive? ‘BE QUIET, I’M PLAYING WITH MY WHISKERS.”

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