The trials and tribulations of bathing Bree.
aBree never ceases to amaze me….
Now, in the past, I have had small dogs, which are way easier to bath. Just throw them in the laundry sink and you’re fine. It was suggested to me by a few people to bath Bree in the bath or in the shower. I don’t care what other people do with their dogs but I’m not entirely comfortable washing my dog anywhere where I have to wash myself.
The laundry sink was out of the question too. Lifting a 30kg dog who may only fit two of her tour legs in the sink just didn’t seem practical. I decided instead to buy a plastic outdoor bath for her from a cheap shop. Perfect. It holds 100 litres of water and low enough for Bree to walk over the lip and enjoy her bath.
I would say, Bree sort of doesn’t like baths, but tolerates them. She understands it’s necessity but she will make it as difficult for me to do this job for her. Each guide dog owner is required to undertake all the bathing and grooming of their guide dog. It re-enforces the bond between the client and the guide dog. If Bree had her way, the bond could be re-enforced in different ways other than giving her a bath.
I’ve got it down to a fine art now, however from start to finish, it is a lengthy process. On warm days, if we have come back from the beach and she’s been for a swim, I just tether her to the clothes line and use the hose. What I generally do is the large bath filled with warm water, shampoo and conditioning (approved only for dogs - very important), topped with a blow-dry, brush and nice spray - . If anything, I am perfectly aware that as a guide dog owner, every time I venture out in public, Bree and I are representing the Royal Society for the Blind who trained Bree. Best to have a clean, nice smelling dog.
When I first started, we didn’t have a gate at the side of our house. I assumed Bree would remain calm after hopping out of the bath. Bree being Bree, she one day bolted out the front and it took me a good half hour to retrieve her. It’s funny when she hops in the bath. She stands stock still and then turns slowly and gives you one of these looks that says, “Come on, get it over and done with.”
The worst thing she has ever done to me after a bath was rolled in the veggie patch straight after hopping out of the bath. No matter what threats I threw at her, she managed to roll herself in dirt like a lamington. Nowadays, I get her full attention with a handful of dog nuts. Food bribes work all the time with a Lab.
Generally speaking, after the ordeal, she comes out smelling really nice and her coat is soft and shiny. It definitely is worth it in the end when you get comments from strangers about how beautiful Bree looks. I think Bree gets a kick out of impressing others too.
So, what did I learn?
Bathing Bree is an ordeal like any other big dog, but the reward is definitely worth it.