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The art of bathing Raisin (05/20/2007)
By Sarah Squires
Owning a dog can be one of the most fulfilling experiences in life, a unique and deep friendship, a pleasant sort of codependence. As in any relationship, there are the unsavory factors, including chores involving any tool whose name begins with "pooper." An owner may come home to any combination of disasters--potting soil and toilet paper binge-and-purge sessions, remnants of expensive books, and yes, even homework arranged in neat chew-piles about the house. The owners of carsick canines can sometimes tell you stories of major league catches with the shifter-hand. For these reasons, having a dog can turn even the laziest slack-jawed buffoon into a smooth and calculated planner.

One thing that all dogs have in common is that they smell like dogs. This is an important part of the dog's identity, with smell being their dominant sense. However natural this aroma may be, if left untreated, the smell can overpower even the cleanest of homes, casting well managed abodes into the lot of "those dog houses," where even bushels of incense and vacuum powder can't help. The only answer to this dilemma would be the dog bath, which may or may not be so difficult. In our household, it ranks right underneath pile-hunting the yard as a close second. My dog, Raisin (Hell), has a shower-phobia, and giving her a bath requires more than just a plan. You've got to anticipate all possibilities, know your surroundings, be prepared. You must think like a dog, yet be smarter than one. I can only help you so much.

Although my dog is an unusually difficult case, it will help to be aware of what might happen. The following is not meant to scare, but to be used as a tool. (This document may also be used to cure pesky children of the "I want a puppy" syndrome.)

My dog knows what I am planning if I am not sneaky. No treat following concepts will work here. That only gets me about as far as the stairs before she figures out the awful scheme and begins hiding. Simply pulling the collar will definitely not be an option, for she will drag and resist, then cry and pee a stream of terror pee. The best way to get her into the bathroom is to pick her up like a baby and carry her up there. She will not urinate in this position, usually.

Putting Raisin into the tub right away is useless for she will just jump out before everything is situated. Simply shutting the door and then setting her down is key. Next I turn the water on, which only comes out of the shower head. For this reason, I have to strip off my clothes and get in, or risk getting the bathroom soaked and myself all wet. This may be a good idea for even a normally functioning bathtub, as the likelihood of making a mess is reduced greatly. If you feel uncomfortable being naked in front of your dog, you may wear a bathing or wet suit.

It may be easy to lift your dog into the tub the first time, but after the initial honeymoon bath, this is typically where your dog will let you know if she doesn't like baths. It may take a few attempts, but be prepared for some possible resistance.

Once into the tub, you must do your best to seal off all exits. However clever you may be, your dog may escape at least once and immediately shake her wet stink all over, leaving you scrambling wet and naked (or not) after her.

Applying the dog shampoo is generally the easy part. If you are working with a shower as I do, rinsing is more complicated. While scrubbing, you should stand in front of the stream and bend over, blocking the water. When rinsing, move behind the dog and try to direct the stream to hit her as directly as possible. Since my water pressure defies gravity, this is not sufficient for rinsing. I have to pick my dog up, her back to my belly, and hold her under the stream. This is the part where I sometimes get hurt. She doesn't really want to cause injury, but it is scary and a strange position, and she will flail, and I am naked. Take care; scratching may occur.

When you are finished rinsing and let her go, she will knock down all barriers and bolt from the tub, naturally shaking her less-stinky wetness all over. You must be prepared to either attempt to hold her down and begin the drying process while in the tub, or leap out after her and begin drying her and mopping up the mess. Make sure that your dog doesn't try to dry off on your bed, as this infuses a semi-permanent wet dog aroma you don't want to experience.

When you feel that you are done, you aren't, because you smell like a dog and are covered with dog hair. Go ahead and take a long, hot shower--you deserve it. This is the kind of thing you buy smelly bath supplies for, and it's the time you can take to consider having a groomer wash your dog the next time she knocks a jar of pickles onto her head.

 

 

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