Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Tale of Two Baths

After our joyous reunion with Toby and Callie, it was clear that a week in the kennels necessitated baths as a matter of urgency. Thus begins the Tale of Two Baths...

Bath One: Toby

We call Toby into the bathroom and encourage him to jump into the tub. He rolls his eyes and grits his teeth but complies because he knows there's a piece of cheese at the end of the bath tunnel.

Toby suffers through the bath in silence. He seems to enjoy the parts that involve soap and does not enjoy the parts that involve water. The only tricky part of the bath is turning him around to rinse his other side.

While we wash Toby, we leave the bathroom door open so Callie can see that this is not some big, scary, horrible production. See, Toby doesn't mind. Callie head-butts her way under our elbows and jams her giant face into the bathtub. She's curious about all the strange goings-on.

When the bathing part is over, Toby waits patiently while we towel dry him off as much as possible. He is eager for his cheese but waits until he gets the command to jump out of the tub. Once out of the tub, he gives himself a good shake and then runs off to the kitchen for his cheese reward.

Bath Two: Callie

We call Callie into the bathroom. She is immediately suspicious and edgy. We encourage her to jump into the tub. She looks at us like we're crazy. I stand in the tub in an effort to get her to join me. It's like a couch, only different. She doesn't buy it.

Peter puts his hand on her collar to drag her up into the tub. Callie collapses on the ground like a masked protester at a WTO meeting. Her body is transformed into 120-pounds of awkward dead weight. Peter crouches on the ground, trying to find a grip that will allow him to lift her the two-and-a-half vertical feet into the tub. I look at Peter's bent back and the slippery floor and see seven possible accidents, so I suggest dragging her into one of the shower stalls.

Peter agrees and first tries to lure her upstairs to the guest bathroom. While Toby dashes up and down the stairs, wondering where his cheese is, Callie cowers at the bottom of the stairs. Peter gives up and agrees the shower in our en-suite bathroom will work just as well and eliminate the need for stairs.

Callie follows us quite happily into our bedroom, and then collapses the minute Peter gets a hand on her collar. It takes both of us to drag her into the bathroom, Peter's pulling her front half and I'm pushing her back half. She makes a last ditch effort to splay out her back legs and brace them against the door jamb, but I disarm her. We perform a tricky move to get all three of us into the tiny bathroom and close the door to eliminate the chance of escape.

In the en-suite, Callie positions herself as far away from the shower as possible. It becomes clear that washing the dog without getting drenched is no longer an option. I turn on the water and climb into the shower. I take Callie's collar and pull her into the shower with me, while Peter lifts up her back end and shoves the rest of her in.

"You are the most recalcitrant, stubborn dog I have ever met," says Peter. I have to laugh and say "Yes, that's my girl." (When I later report this story to Middle Brother, he observes that Callie and I have been cut from the same cloth.)

We spend several minutes working on turning Callie around so she's more under the water stream. (I wish fervently the whole while that this shower would have the detachable head the way the bathtub does.) I'm part contortionist, part tightrope walker as I balance and twist my way around the giant huddle of dog at the bottom of the shower.

Finally, Callie is properly positioned and we're able to lather and then rinse. Slight adjustments to her position get everything rinsed except her underbelly. Peter suggests more turning. I tell him to get a bucket. I shut the shower doors and wait while he fetches a bucket. When he returns with a big, empty kitchen pot, I hold it high above my head until its full of water, then I carefully pass it over to him. He rinses Callie's belly, then hands me a towel.

After I've dried her, Callie is given the all-clear and she bolts from the shower. While I put on dry clothes and wipe up the water on the floor, Peter takes the dogs into the kitchen for the cheese reward. Callie gets hers first. As Peter is placing Toby's cheese into the dog's mouth, Callie muscles in to take it. Peter growls and both dogs back off, then Toby is finally properly rewarded for his bath.

Lessons Learned

According to Peter, we have learned two important lessons from this endeavour.

Lesson 1 - Next bath time, Callie's bath is going to be outside with the garden hose.

Lesson 2 - The next time we adopt a giant dog, it's going to be in puppy form.



At 10 December 2008 at 08:32, Blogger Babaloo said...

This post just made me laugh so much, thank you Ann! I read this first thing when I woke up and what a great way to start a day laughing!

When I read the title I thought, wow, how are they going to get Callie into the bath if she doesn't want to? But you managed in the end. The garden hose is a good idea, though. Bit cold.

When Jack still needed his twice weekly wash we did that outside, too. Because the water from the hose is very cold we warmed water up in the kettle and mixed it with cold water in the watering can. But for Callie you'd need a bit more than one watering can I presume...

Well done on getting both dogs washed!

At 10 December 2008 at 08:38, Blogger Babaloo said...

Oh, and - see, it's like a couch, only different? Brilliant!!!

Honey does the same as Callie, though, she just flops down on the ground and makes herself as heavy and awkward as she can. She's only about 18 or 19kg, though. Comparatively easy to handle...

At 10 December 2008 at 12:20, Blogger laurie said...

i laughed and laughed through this.

it's riley and boscoe! only .... huge.

At 10 December 2008 at 13:50, Blogger Noelle said...

Funny. And impressive that the lesson you learned wasn't "never bathe the dogs again."

At 10 December 2008 at 15:19, Blogger Kaycie said...

I just laughed my ass off. Hilarious.

This is one thing I would totally not trade you on. I think bathing two 20ish pound miniature schnauzers is infinitely easier, no matter how much they (and I) hate it!

At 10 December 2008 at 16:06, Blogger The Finely Tuned Woman said...

it's wonderful.You described it so well, I was mesmerized, awaiting the outcome. I didn't think it was going to be a success, but you did it. I could never drag the Überhund into the shower with me. I take him to the groomer where he gets trimmed and a proper bath and I don't know how she does it.

At 10 December 2008 at 16:41, Blogger ped crossing said...

Too funny. It illustrates so well why I cannot have a huge dog.

I have given up on bathing Velcro. I ship him off to the groomer.

At 11 December 2008 at 18:05, Blogger -Ann said...

Babaloo - Glad you enjoyed it. I knew the whole time it was happening that it would make an excellent post - which is probably how I was able to stay cheerful even when I was soaked.

Laurie - Yes, I love the big dogs, but sometimes I forget the practicalities of them.

Noelle - Smelly dogs need to be bathed, there's just no way around it.

Kaycie - I bet you could wash 2 mini schnauzers at the same time with less stress than trying to wash a single Callie. :)

TFTW - Yes, we used to take Kodiak to the groomers and that worked well, but there are no groomers very close to us here.

PC - If only we had a groomer nearby. The kennels do grooming, but she's not at all set up for big dogs.

At 12 December 2008 at 15:51, Blogger wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

We have a similarly happy time at Jake's bathtime. At least he doesn't weigh 120 pounds and I can just about lift him. I'll have to try the cheese reward. Maybe you should get a children's pool for Callie's bath?

At 17 December 2008 at 11:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hehe that me me laugh so much - and it brings back memories of bathing my dog who was also as stubborn as all hell. Plus she would always shake herself before we were finished soaking everyone remotely nearby :-)

At 18 December 2008 at 17:46, Blogger -Ann said...

WUASTC - The children's pool is a great idea. I'll have to keep an eye out for one next summer.

Conortje - Ah yes, who couldn't love the water-shaking-off move?


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