My dog and I have had each other for a little over a year now. She’s pretty much the cutest creature on the planet, and I love her to pieces. She’s definitely got a personality! I think she was a cat in her previous life. She’s smart, opinionated, sassy, patient, and gentle. And boy, is she stubborn. Ninety-five percent of the time she is really mellow, but about once a day, she’ll get unbelievably excited, which makes her run enthusiastically in circles (and on and off my couch if we’re at home) until she exhausts herself. I know, it’s adorable.
She is somewhat of a fearful dog, though, and I’m not sure if it’s because of her experiences for the first year or two of her life before we met, or if that’s her temperament. The thing she hates most in life (other than big, aggressive dogs) is going to the groomer.
Now, for the past year, I’ve been all too happy to pay someone else to wash her (and clip her nails and clean her ears and express her anal glands—eeew), so I don’t have to be the bad guy. But the last couple of trips to the groomer have just about broken my heart to see her so distressed. So, I resolved to do it myself. (Except for the anal glands. The vet did those at her recent annual check up. As I said earlier—eeew.)
Here’s the scene:
I installed a special dog wash shower head with a long hose in my tub (yeah! go me! I did it by myself!!). I armed myself with bits of chicken to use as positive reinforcement/motivation. I put a couple inches of what was hopefully comfortable-temperature water in the tub. I moved all the shampoo bottles and such to the other side of the bathroom so there would be no falling debris in case of extreme panicking. (I should probably mention that my dog weighs 40-something pounds. If she flailed wildly, she could knock stuff over.) Lastly, I grabbed towels, and I put on my rain gear. (True story.)
Ok, I was ready. It’s now or never. Do or die. <Insert dramatic music here.> I put her leash on her (Poor girl, she though we were going for a walk. Psych!), but instead led her to the bathroom. She got a piece of chicken for coming into the bathroom even though she kind of figured out what was about to happen and tried to backpedal. She got a piece of chicken for calming down and investigating the tub. But no amount of chicken enticingly placed on the opposite side of the tub would get her to go in. So I placed her in the water, as gently as I could with 40 pounds of fur wriggling in my face.
So? How’d it go?:
It went ok. I tied her leash to the faucet so she couldn’t go too far, and she still tried (unsuccessfully) to escape a few times, but I was always able to grab her and hold on. I (successfully) shampooed and conditioned her fur (do dogs really need conditioner? Or am I a sucker who buys unnecessarily foofoo stuff for her dog?). We took a walk to air dry. Now she smells nice and is super duper fluffy. Mmmmm, clean dog smell.
The part I wasn’t prepared for was all the fur. Despite the fact that we had spent 20 minutes brushing with the Furminator right before doggie wash. (If you have a double-coated dog and you don’t have a Furminator, buy one. Buy one now! It’s a ridiculous price, but maybe you can score a cheap one on Ebay like I did. Anyway, back to the fur.) OHMYGOD THE FUR! FUR EVERYWHERE!! IT LOOKED LIKE FUR CARNAGE ALL OVER MY TUB! AND ON THE WALLS!! IN THE SINK!! HOW IS THERE FUR ALL THE WAY OVER ON THE TOILET? HOW IS SHE NOT NAKED RIGHT NOW?? I thought about taking a picture of the fur carnage to post, but then I thought, a) That’s gross, and b) You guys would probably think I was involved in some sort of animal abuse, that’s how much fur there was. We spent another 20 minutes with the Furminator post-bath, and the fur still kept coming out.
Moral of the Story:
I think we were both traumatized by the experience. Fortunately, we’ve both since recovered. She doesn’t hate me, which is a win in my book. I think next time, I will pay someone else to wash her. But first we’ll go hang out at the groomer’s with some chicken. Maybe if we go there a few times just to hang out and get treats (no doggie wash yet), she’ll see that it’s not such a scary place after all. But I’ll tell them to let her air dry when I do make her a grooming appointment. She’s afraid of the hair dryer.