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How to Bathe a Dog

by Vicky Chapman, NSW, Australia


Much wisdom has been written about how to bathe a cat. There are many techniques, and most involve lightening reflexes, sharp wits, and kevlar suits, although no technique so far invented has been able to save the washer from the Wrath of Cat. Dogs, on the other hand, may actually enjoy baths, and I have heard that saying "bath" to some dogs get them as worked up as saying "walkies" to others.

Unfortunately, Fluffy isn't that kind of dog. She doesn't like baths at all. Although she won't take our eyes out like a cat, you can tell she's unhappy about the situation. But sometimes she got so dirty and mucky there was no other choice.

Bathing the Fluffy Monster is a two person job. She'll willingly follow us to the bathroom, but getting her into the tub is another story entirely. She has to be picked up to be put in there, and she'll wiggle and squirm just like the cat. Once she's in the bath, we'll run the water. An otherwise completely silent dog (except for the occasional yelp caused by Shmogg's claws) she'll bark at the top of her lungs at the water coming out of the tap. Mind you, this is a small enclosed bathroom with no carpet and bare walls, and the echo rings for days. She'll keep up the barking & snapping at the running water for as long as she can, until we get the soap.

Thinking it was another delicious snack, she grabbed at it and got a mouthful. Dogs have long, mobile tongues, and although they can't actually spit, she did a wonderful impression of someone who was trying to. She started with a classic "Ptooey" look with her tongue straight out, and she waved it around trying to get the horrible taste off somehow. If she had a tongue that was any longer, she would have taken off like the first doggy helicopter.

She did eventually figure out that the warm stuff she was standing in was water, and she took long grateful gulps to rid her mouth of the taste. She probably would have been successful had she not been distracted by us trying to apply the soap to her fur. Well, she wasn't having any of that, and tried to leap straight out of the bath.

Fluffy is in her adolescent stage, and her feet keep getting in the way of her walking, She trips over herself regularly, and is completely ungainly. Occasionally when she's running, her back legs go faster than her front ones and she ends up doing somersaults. She is a rather clumsy dog at the best of times, but now she was trying to get some traction on a wet and slippery bath tub. I guess it was much like looking at a cow on skates. Although hell may one day freeze over, nothing will ever actaully happen because the cows will never be able to make it home - their legs will go in all directions at once, until they end up lying on their stomachs, their legs pointing at the four compass points. Fluffy was much in the same way, with water and soap and dogs legs going every which way all at the same time.

She did eventually make it out of the tub, but found the tile floor no better. By this time both Joel & I were yelling at the top of our lungs too, which frightened her even further. She tried to run away, only to discover that the faster she moved her legs, the quicker she stayed in the one spot. She peed herself in fright and sat in it, cowering. You could tell she wasn't a happy dog, but we couldn't let her out of the bathroom all soaped up, with mud and now urine still in her coat. It was either back in the bath, or be stuck in the bathroom for the rest of her life.

Time for delicacies was clearly over. Although Joel & I had remained relatively dry and clean up until this point, it was obvious that we'd have to reassure her, and then somehow get her back into the vicious, evil bathtub. Sacrificing my clothing, dryness and cleanliness for the love of my doggy, I hugged her, reassured her, and then picked her up to put her back into the torture chamber.

She looked us with the great sorrowful eyes only a dog can make while we rinsed her off. She knew that she was defeated and did not give us any more trouble physically, although her sad puppy dog eyes and pathetic whimperings were getting to both of us emotionally. Neither of us like making our "kids" feel like being tortured, but a muddy, dirty, urine soaked dog just cannot be allowed the run of the house. It was difficult for both canine and human to finish the task, but eventually we got all the guck off of her, lifted her out and toweled her dry, all the while trying to give her reassurance and positive attention. She was very much subdued, and instead of bounding and jumping all over us with her usual enthusiasm all she could manage was one small like of my hand. I felt so bad, but knew it had to be done. I hoped she'd understand that I wasn't being a meany just for the fun of it.

The bathroom door was eventually opened and Fluffy was allowed to escape from the Chamber of Hell. She wasn't allowed outside until she was dry, so after discovering that the back door wasn't open, she went to sulk under the kitchen table to dry, giving us the sorrowful doggy look at every opportunity.

I was soaked, covered in mud and other repulsive stuff, my clothes in dire need of laundering. I threw them into the dirty laundry tub and hopped into the shower to give myself some nice hot humanising therapy. There I was, standing under the water, feeling the heat and the pressure slowly dissolving the stress of the recent dog-bathing escapade, when I saw Fluffy push her way through the bathroom door. Through the glass cubicle, I could see her looking up me with those beautiful brown baleful eyes. Naturally, her doggy magic worked, and I fell for it. I opened the shower door to give her a reassuring pet, only to find that she'd manoeuvred into the shower cubicle with me. "Silly dog," I thought to myself, "you've just getting dry". I tried to shoo her out, but she ducked behind me and kept dodging my hand that was trying to grab at her collar.

"Hah!" I thought, "soap will get rid of her, lickety split". I got the soap, and let her sniff at it. She backed away, but wouldn't get out of the cubicle. Not that theres a lot of room for a rather large human and an ungainly dog in a modern shower cubicle, and I was intent to finish my shower on my own. "This will get rid of her, for sure," I thought, as I started rubbing soap into her hindquarters, "she hates it".

No, silly me, Shmogg's been training her to be contrary. I'm being out-psyched by both cat and dog now. She willingly allowed me to completely soap her up and down, then rinse her off, all with the goofy tongue lolling out grin that dogs wear when they're in puppy-dog heaven. I don't know why on earth she hated the bath so much and loves having showers with wither me or Joel, but she does. Its either the fact that she's two tinnies shy of a piss-up, or she's taking leaves out of Shmogg's book of "how to Confuse The Human". At least we know how to get her clean now, but when I used to moan about the shower cubicle being too small to have "a shower for two", I didn't mean it to be fixed like this.


Editor's note:

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