In 1941 an engineer by the name of George de Mestral and his dog ventured together on daily treks through the Swiss Alps. It is reported that, following their hikes, Mr. de Mestral spent time grooming his faithful friend to dislodge burrs from his haircoat. This was no mindless task; rather it managed to get Mr. de Mestral’s creative juices flowing. He examined the burrs under a microscope and took note of their teeny tiny hooks that latched onto his dog’s hair. He copied this phenomenon with an invention named after the French words for velvet and hook (velours and crochet). Thus the invention of Velcro!
History indicates that it took many years for Mr. de Mestral’s creation to catch on (no pun intended), but, as you know, Velcro has become a sensationally versatile and popular product. I wish I could provide you with the name or breed of the dog who inspired this invention- of interest to me, but apparently unimportant to Velcro historians! Don’t they realize that had said dog sported long spindly legs and a coarse haircoat- the burrs might not have latched on, and we would be living Velcro-less lives!
The next time you’re painstakingly removing burrs from your dog’s haircoat or a thunderstorm causes your dog to “stick to you like Velcro,” do not despair. Rather, remind yourself about George de Mestral and the amazing invention inspired by the awesome combination of nature and a dog.
Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged best friend a most enjoyable and safe summer!
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.