Have you ever wrestled a bear? Well, that is exactly what I did...or felt like I did...the other night.
It all started when I noticed Buddy, one of our three rescue dogs, licking his fur and biting at several random areas on his stomach and legs. I was concerned about fleas but since we have used a flea and tick product on our dogs for many years, I knew that was likely not the problem.
Buddy, always covered in a light film of dust and stickers, needed a bath. I thought he might also need an Epsom salt soak since he was having some sort of skin irritation; so instead of filling the little plastic baby pool in the back yard with tepid "hose water", a soothing bath in our master bathroom garden-tub seemed to be the remedy.
I was stealthy as I began to quietly run the bath for this 60-pound gentle terrier mix. I didn't really anticipate problems with him because he hated to get in trouble. A stern look his way was all it took for him to crumple and stop the behavior that had caused the stern look.
Dingo and Buddy had witnessed Fred's baths on many occasions since I tended to leave the bathroom door cracked to prevent the buildup of humidity. Mid-bath, I would glance over to see two muzzles with four soft brown eyes watching through the door sliver. Buddy always looked anxious and commiserated with Fred's situation by giving him a quick sniff and a lick afterward; as if to say, “We’re glad that’s over.”
Fred hid as he heard water running in the tub, while Dingo and Buddy relaxed on the floor close to the bathroom door, ready for the show to begin. I pretended to walk past but swiveled at the last second to take hold of Buddy’s collar. Panic had not yet set in and he cooperated by walking into the bathroom without resistance; but when I wheeled and shut the bathroom door leaving it cracked a bit, Buddy began to pace.
"Who's a good boy? Buddy's a good boy," I coaxed as I lifted his heavy body off the tile floor and that is when all hell broke loose. I pivoted to lower him into the large tub but his paws…as four legs splayed out “spread-eagle” style…gripped both sides of the tub. Bath bombs, skeletal soap shards, and shampoo bottles were launched into the air and splashed down, like tiny missiles, into the rising water.
At one point, his toenails hooked into the wispy, white, sheer curtains covering the window and they began to peel off of the curtain rod wrapping and entangling his flailing body—reminiscent of a mummy. My arms were weakening, and I had to compress his legs together while simultaneously lowering and unwrapping him. This seemed to work but when his feet touched the tub-bottom, he slipped and scrambled trying to barrel his way past me. I had to make myself wide to fully block his escape.
I clutched his collar with one hand; lathering while scrubbing and performing a general "sticker-removal" procedure all over his body with the other hand. It was becoming obvious that this was the source of his itch. A little coconut conditioner while holding him down, then the final rinse and we were finished. He no longer smelled like dirt and old socks.
Getting him out of the tub was easy as he just launched himself high over the edge and began to shake an excessive amount of water out of his clean fur. I was sweaty and saturated but glad this ordeal was over.
When I reached to open the door, I noticed Fred's eye—the bulgy one with the prolapsed tear gland (AKA cherry-eye)—was pressed hard against the door crack, peering sympathetically at Buddy's dripping body. As we exited, Fred gave him the conciliatory sniff and lick. But I could imagine him thinking, "Better you than me, Buddy."
Meanwhile, the only evidence of Dingo, was his brown bushy black-tipped tail sticking out from under my bed as it beat a slow rhythm on the bedroom floor.
By Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by true events