My big yellow dog sat patiently in the tub as I scrubbed her from nose to tail, taking time to wash her private parts and her ears, all the while talking to her and loving the feel of her under my hands. It did not matter that I was getting all wet or that an elbow injury I’ve been suffering with hurt worse. I was bathing my baby dog Annie, all 80 pounds of her.
We had had less pleasant bathing experiences, like the time I tried to wash her with a garden hose and she ran away or the time I tried to wash her in my bathroom and I wound up in a tub full of fur and stink while she remained on the floor dripping water all over. Usually I just wait until she happens to be staying at the kennel and let the people there bathe her. But sometimes a dog just has to have a bath. This time I took her to Moondoggy here in Newport, a doggy daycare and spa where they have a place dog owners can wash their own dogs.
It was perfect. Annie walked up three wooden steps into a big tub. A worker helped me loop “seat belts” over her neck, showed me a shelf full of different shampoos and scrubbers and left us to our fun. It was fun. Even Annie seemed to enjoy it. The water was the perfect temperature, and nobody was in a panic about how to wash this giant dog.
When my late husband was around, we washed our dogs in a metal tub in the back yard, one of us holding the dog while the other scrubbed. It’s not as easy with only one set of hands. But Moondoggy worked.
I couldn’t help thinking about how this is a lot like bathing one’s baby. Of course we wouldn’t put a halter around their necks or douse them with flea shampoo, but there’s that same physical closeness, that intimate touch, the loving with our hands that feels so good. I have never washed a human baby, probably never will. I suspect they’d be a lot more slippery and more responsive when I talk to them.
But Annie is my baby dog. She was eight pounds when we brought her home, about the same size as many human babies. My friends gave us a puppy shower. I showed her off to everyone, and I kept track of every milestone. (“Today she doodled outside!”) Now she’s five years old. Every day I’m at home starts and ends with Annie, taking her outside to “go potty,” feeding her, medicating her various infections and ailments, walking with her, talking to her, and loving her.
I wish I had human children, but God gave me this canine child/friend to take care of. It’s not so bad. Do you have a four-legged baby, too?