When the right dog is totally the wrong color for work

I'm having a hard time coordinating my wardrobe and my dog. No matter how I dress, I manage to choose clothes that best display dog fur.

To call my clothes a wardrobe is a bit of an exaggeration. I tend to find something I'm comfortable with and then wear the same basic stuff for a decade.

When I was a student and had no dog, I dressed in jeans and flannel shirts. In my early days as an office worker, I tried to look young and professional, with a couple of crisp new suits and the wool sport coats my mother bought for me.

Then, somewhere in my early 30s, I fell into the habit of wearing khaki chinos and oxford shirts to work. Khakis were great: They were reasonably tidy looking and had a light, sandy color that seemed to look OK with about any shirt and tie. Without much thought, I could look as though I gave some attention to professional dress.

At the same time I discovered khakis, an 80-pound black dog with long hair joined our household. He was a great dog, gentle and affectionate - the kind of dog you'd give a good scratch to before leaving for work. He also had a deep coat, with multiple layers of fur that he shed throughout the year. He lived with us for 17 years, so for 17 years I went to work with black fur on my khaki pants.

Not long after he died, I left my job to go back to school. And I stopped wearing my old work uniform of khakis and oxford shirts. Under the influence of hip students 25 years my junior, for whom black shirts and black pants are something of a uniform, I found myself wearing dark trousers.

Then a new dog joined our household. He's a longhaired strawberry blond who is labeled a golden retriever, but clearly has some other sandy- colored ancestors. He had a bit of a tough life before coming here and so was starved for affection. He still craves human contact, and wants that contact to be physical: He has to touch you almost all the time.

He rubs against me like a giant cat, leaving wisps of khaki fur on my dark pants. He pushes his head against my legs, shedding little wisps of strawberry blond. He is a very sweet dog, but absolutely the wrong color for someone who's wearing black.

Of course, the simple solution, other than dyeing the dog's fur black, is for me to go back to wearing khakis. But the folks at school might not understand how I could be so "uncool." All I can say to defend myself is that I'm dressing like my dog.

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