Finally, the morning fulfilled the promise that has been teased this spring. Sunshine bounced off the shrubbery and landed a soft, warm kiss on my nose. I clipped the collar around the cold, wet nose of my companion, and we headed out.
As per usual, he started off in his herky-jerk pull. First he jerked to the right. I yanked him toward me. He then herked straight ahead. I admonished him, sternly but ineffectively, but we were going that way anyhow. I halted him when we got to the gate. The bushes that bound our front yard have grown taller than me. Well, not that tall, but are big and thick enough that I can’t see if someone is coming.
It’s important for us all to be forewarned. First, pedestrians can be quite surprised if they walk into what strangers generally marvel at as a “big dog.” Then if the dog is surprised, that mutual surprise becomes a tangle of the neighbor tripping backwards saying, “whoa!” or sometimes, “holy shit! is that a DOG?” and the dog embracing the movement and shrieks as an opportunity to make a new friend who may, in a moment of shock, drop a sandwich.
This becomes a jump-jive lurch and a wrench of my shoulder. Really the wrench of the entire right side of my body from shoulder, to pectorals, to the 3 of my 6-pack that hides underneath middle-age and sometimes through my adductor longus. UNLESS, the person is coming from the other side, then it’s the pivot wrench in which the only thing planted is my left leg. Please pray for that knee. So I hang on to the leash for all that is good in the world and offer my profuse apologies for the unwelcome charge. And I can’t help to pick anything up since I need to redirect The Beast. I spin and swiftly walk away, with a weak wave, a grimacey smile and another cluster of sorries.
That didn’t happen this morning. It’s all about that strategic pause and being ever-vigilant. It’s also all about an empty sidewalk. Issue avoided.
I was ready for work and didn’t have any pockets. I clipped my house key to my sweater and stuffed a plastic bag with a few treats in the elastic at the top of my skirt. It was a a stunning morning indeed, and The Beast, after making sure that the Soviet exile kitty-cat was not hiding underneath the Mini, fell into my pace.
I didn’t have alot of time so we were taking the abbreviated route. There were many new spring smells, but he used the lead I gave him to maximize his sniffs and minimize his corrections. There were some sticks to chew through and napkins on the sidewalk that he was not allowed to investigate further.
We turned the corner and passed the bike share that was half-full of cherry red units. This turn directs us toward the tracks. As we approach the last third of the block, I need to be hyper-aware for approaching trains. I usually use a combination of cooing, bribes and two-handed leash reminders to make the next turn.
It was just as I was looking up ahead and as the beast was retrieving his pee-mail left by other canines on the trunk of the old tree that it happened. The smelling at the base of the tree changed to him rolling his head and neck on the ground. At first I thought he was having a seizure of sorts until I saw him place his shoulder and euphorically rub through that shoulder, neck, ear and nose in, in, in, something.
So disgusting. I pulled him off it and did a super quick assessment. It didn’t seem to be a dead animal. But it was definitely a gross enough pile that I choked back a gag and dragged him from his holy place.
I cursed a fair amount the rest of the way home. I needed to clean him off enough so I could get to work. Which I did. He would get the full salon treatment this evening.
The Petco has dog-wash stations. For a Hamilton they supply all you need to wash your dog–aprons, shampoo, sprayers and big silver tubs.
Although The Beast was not obviously foul-smelling, I knew (mostly) what he had rolled in. He needed a full refresh.
We took a real walk, the better to wear him out before tonight’s new experience, and I coaxed him into the car. We insaned it to the pet store and were gifted with a parking spot exactly in front of the store. Good omen!
The Beast likes the dogstore. He sniffs around for treats, pokes at the toys and occassionally leaves with one. And cookies. He always gets a cookie.
The cashier looked at us and asked if we were going to the tubs. I’m wondering how she knew. I told her it was my first time. She nodded and asked if we could wait while she took care of the man buying something special for his cute brown moppet dog who began leaping in place at our entrance. That leaping in place was quite a talent.
The attendant walked me to the back of the store where a woman was shampooing her sweet moppet dog in one of the three tubs. Guess moppet dogs are in. There were no other eighty-pound Bambi dogs.
We stood at the wash station. I surveyed the area. Rubber mats on the ground and the bottom of the tubs. Good, neither of us would slip. There was a water spray and cleats on the side. There were some shampoo leashes hanging. I guess the cleats were to hitch the leash.
I took a breath and looked at The Beast. He may have seen a flash of my apprehension. I gave him a treat and moved him toward the bath. He looked at the stainless steel tub and eyed the open door. He looked at me and as much as said, “Seriously, Doc? What the hell do you think is going to happen here?”
He wouldn’t get in. I lifted his front legs in, like we do with the car. The idea was to get the front part in and then I’d lift the rear. This was NOT his idea. He splayed not only his legs out, but grabbed onto the edge of the tub with his paws. He dug in. I couldn’t get behind him in time. He brought his legs back to terra firma.
The attendant asked if we wanted to use a lower tub on the other side of the “salon.” Sounded good to me. I tried to walk him the nine steps to the other tub. He pulled back like a Jeep with a winch. I was on the other end of the rope. He was working to reel me in. I produced another treat and some soothing words. I had to coax him to take the goodie. This was not a good omen.
I out-winched him and pulled him to the other tub. The woman bathing her sweet moppet dog was judging me. I know. I felt it.
I lifted his front paws into this lower tub. He had clearly used the first tub experience as his rehearsal for a true protest. He would not be moved. I hopped up into the tub myself, thinking that I could get him to loosen his resolve if he saw how easy it was. There I am standing in the dog tub and the dog immobile outside of it. Another couple came in with their dog.
The guy looked at me standing in the tub with The Beast doing his sit down strike. He said that his dog would be just like The Beast. I’m looking at him and then his dog. I wonder aloud if the dog was twenty-five pounds. The woman offered, “Sixteen.” Sure, just like my dog. They lifted her up with one friggin’ hand and murmured sweet pleas for forgiveness as they did their washing. Meanwhile, the moppet dog woman was still secretly judging me. I caught the shade.
I got out of the tub since that was not working and pulled another treat out of my pocket. I was running out. It didn’t matter, though. The Beast refused to turn his head toward me. I told him there’s a cookie, and while I got a recognition via one raised eyebrow (yes, he has eyebrows, I’ll show you sometime) he did not turn. I was standing between him and the stainless steel tub. He would not deign to look toward that hated stainless steel tub. I stepped to his other side, and he looked at me away from the stainless steel tub. I gave him the treat. And I gave up.
I was beyond the judgement of my washmates. Beyond the judgement of the attendant who asked me what I was going to do as I left the wash station.
I needed a solution. I asked for dry shampoo. The Beast put his head in a box of toys. I paid the $20 for the dry shampoo and left. But no cookie for The Beast this time. Nope. No cookie. Not this time. Not a toy either.