As any dog owner can attest, whenever you get a new canine, you get a bunch of new adjustments as well.
Let's face it, dogs are as individualistic as people. Of course, unlike people, they're a kinder, more loyal and loving lot, but let's save that discussion for a different time.
As for adjusting to the whims, wiles and weirdness of a new dog, I know whereof I speak. My latest, Little Lulu, was rescued from a Tennessee kill shelter. She was young, small, zippy and sweet. She also liked everyone, got along with cats and dogs, and was about 97.5 percent housebroken.
"Wow," I said to myself, "no problems here."
Ah, did I have a lot to learn. And what I learned first was Lulu had The Sniffer of the Universe. Her scent discrimination was so keen she could've found a bread crumb in a locked bank vault. So for her to find biscuits in my jacket pockets wasn't just easy - it was a sure thing.
Of course, when we humans, with our opposable digits, want something in a pocket, we simply reach in and take it. Lulu, as a member or her species, had a different approach: She chewed her way through to them. Thus, the first few days I had her, she managed to shred beyond repair five jackets, two vests and three pairs of pants.
Did I get mad? Not at all. As I said, with every new dog comes new issues. Plus, it wasn't her fault the biscuits were left in the pockets. But irrespective of my lofty enlightenment, some problems remained, and the most immediate was to replace two of my jackets.
One was my Gore-Tex raincoat. The other was a lightweight parka.
Due to advancements in outdoor gear, I figured I could take a shortcut on this issue: There are lots of rainshells with zip-out liners, so if I could find one, I was all set.
I checked a bunch of places and finally found what I was looking for. And best of all, it was reduced a whopping 50 percent.
Yowie! Zowie! I thought to myself, I've just scored The Deal of the Century. And I had. The only problem was it was the deal of the 20th century, not the 21st.
Wet behind the ears
At first nothing seemed wrong with the coat. It fit fine, was waterproof and windproof, and breathed well. It also had pit zips, lots of pockets, and a wide comfort range. But by the third time I wore it, I knew things were not as they should be. More precisely, I knew one thing was not as it should be - the hood.
The hood wasn't detachable, nor did it have any snaps or straps to keep it rolled up. Consequently, if I didn't wear the hood on my head, it hung on my back. And that's where the problem lay, because when it hung, a ridge formed across the inside of the hood, right behind my neck. That was no hassle if it didn't rain. But if rained, even a wee bit, there indeed was a hassle.
You remember that little ridge behind my neck? Yeah, well, when even a light mist fell, moisture would accumulate on the top of the ridge. Then, after enough formed it'd do what water does in those cases, namely run down the ridge - and right down the back of my neck.
I tried everything. Folding it this way and that; rolling it up; pushing it back. Nothing worked.
Of course, I could've worn the hood up, but why? For me the only reason to wear the hood is protection from extreme weather. In mild rain and snow, I've always worn the hood down, and a warm hat. Plus I LIKE not having the hood up. A walkabout during a soft rain has always been refreshing to me.
With every wet-weather wearing, I got more and more frustrated, and finally, after maybe my 10th consecutive neck-wetting, I'd had it. I went back to the store, jacket in tow, and asked to speak to the manager.
We exchanged pleasantries and then got down to the issue at hand - or more exactly, at neck.
"So how often do you have this problem?" he asked.
"Every time it rains," I said.
"Yep," I said, "EVERY time."
"Hmm," he said, and stroked his chin. "OK, lemme look at it."
I handed it to him and he held it up, first one way, then another.
"Well," he said, "the hood's not detachable."
"Yeah," I said, "I know that."
"If it was detachable, then there wouldn't be a problem. Which is why people buy jackets with detachable hoods."
"Sure," I said. "But let's not talk about jackets with detachable hoods. Let's talk about jackets with ATTACHED hoods like this one."
"Sure," he said.
Then he Hmm'ed and held it up some more.
"This hood is really all right."
"No doubt," I said. "But only when it's worn up or it's not raining. And a raincoat that you can't wear in the rain isn't really much of a raincoat, is it?"
"But you CAN wear it in the rain," he said.
"I can," I said. "But only if the hood's up. Then I really can't wear it because water runs down the back of my neck."
"Well, see, that's the thing."
"What is?" I asked.
"A jacket like this? A jacket with an attached hood? When it's raining it's SUPPOSED to be worn with the hood up."
I was taken aback. Finally, I could speak.
"Ya know, I've had a whole bunch of raincoats with attached hoods," I said. "And in mild rain I've always worn them with the hood down and I've never had water run down my back."
"Maybe," he said. "But - "
"No 'but,'" I said. "I never had water run down my back in any of those other jackets. Never. So as far as I'm concerned, on this jacket it's a design flaw."
"No," he said, shaking his head. "It's certainly NOT a design flaw. It was designed to be worn up in the rain. That's all there is to it."
"OK," I said. "So if that's the case, how come there's nothing written on the label? You know, something like, 'WARNING: In case of rain - even the tiniest rain - the hood on this jacket must be worn up, or your back'll get wet.'"
"Well, that's pretty silly," he said.
"Yeah," I said. "Almost as silly as you telling me that in person."
Both of us knew we'd reached an impasse. I knew telling him the hood was a design flaw was as ineffective as him telling me the hood could only be worn down if it didn't rain.
A long moment passed, then another. Finally, he spoke.
"Well, I'll give you store credit for your coat."
It was music to my neck.
"Fine," I said, handing him the jacket.
It all turned out well for both of us. I got to return the jacket, and he sold me another, much more expensive one.
And just in case you're wondering: That new jacket, the more expensive one? It has both a zip-out liningAND a detachable hood.