It all started with a bowl of water. Make that 2 and a half bowls of water at 5:00am, on a day when my wife and I both work. Now I should explain that normally Tova is only in her cage for "calm down" times and those moments when my wife is out running errands or picking up the kids. In most cases she is outside enjoying the view of the back yard or inside wandering around the kitchen. But on Mondays and Tuesdays, due to combined work schedules, she suffers the ignominy of confinement from about 7:00 to 3:30, when I get home.
On this particular morning, after our 5:00 potty run, Tova decided that she was a pyr-fish, and guzzled down 2 and a half bowls of water. Happily ignorant of the truth in what I had done, I directed her back into the crate and trotted off to work.
When I returned home, there was a slight odor in the air. I was immediately leery, but saw no telltale puddles in the cage, so I thought that maybe it was just a case of gas. Of course, when I took her out of the cage I discovered Use Number 2 for Dog Hair - Nature's Handi-Wipe. I have only God to thank that she didn't choose this moment to practice the "shake" command.
Outside we went, for a quick airing-out. Snow or no snow, I didn't want her soaking any longer than necessary. Besides, I knew I could get ready and bring her back inside quickly.
I had just bought one of those bathtub-mini-shower thingies, a K-Mart special. Tova had been looking a little brown around the edges, so I was all set for bath anyway. At least that's what I thought.
Once again I cleared all chase-able things on the way from the garage through the kitchen to the hallway to the stairs up to the bathroom.
I grabbed a bundle of towels, emptied the bathroom of all chew-ables, and began to install the shower-attachment.
I should note that our house is not even a year old, and it was at this time I discovered that our spigots are all extra-wide. Wider, in fact, than any known adapter for those shower-things.
20 minutes and 6 plumbing attachments later, I decided to pitch the idea and just give the dog a plain old bath. I also remember that it was only 10 degrees outside (not counting wind chill).
While I have read about Pyr's in the winter and how cute those "drool-sicles" can be, let me state right now that "pee-sicles" are significantly less cute. Tova was, however, unfazed by the weather. Thank goodness for that.
Inside we go, through the kitchen she knows as home, into the hallway where we rarely are allowed, and up to the stairs. "Stairs?" she says "Don't like em. There's more than 2 up there. Think I'll pass.".
"Oh now get real" I say to myself. I go immediately into my doggy cheerleader role. "You can do this, I know you can!" No good. I tempt her with treats, and even wave the cat in front of her as bait. As tempting as the cat was, Tova still wasn't going to run up that massive number of steps (10).
From the amount of struggling, I am fairly certain Tova didn't enjoy being carried as much as I didn't enjoy carrying her. I can only hope this translates into a desire to revisit the stairs issue, and perhaps come to a decision about them that doesn't involve my back or feline body parts.
Finally into the bathroom, I began running the water. If Tova's expression was leery for the stairs, it was all-out panic for the bathtub. This was, of course, the moment my daughters chose to open the door and see how the bath was going. The act of knocking them over, however, slowed Tova enough that I was able to wrestle her down before she attempted to test un-modified canine aerodynamics over the railing.
A short while later the bathtub was full, my children were tethered to the toilet, Tova was locked with me in the bathroom, and I was ready for a nap.
Into the water she went, and the dog who found 10 stairs impossible to traverse was now attempting to scale a 90-degree sheer wall made of wet tile. Some animals are so fickle.
Lacking the shower-thingy, I began the cup-and-dunk routine. My daughters were only too willing to help, and so Tova quickly learned to turn her body away from wherever they were, in order to avoid drowning.
Shampoo was next. Tova lathered up very nicely. So did my two-year-old. I caught her fast enough to save half the 16-oz bottle of shampoo. She won't need to wash her hair for another month. The 5-year-old was enchanted to see Tova licking the bubbles. Tried it herself but wasn't impressed. Fed it to the 2 year old which was significantly more fun. Both children were then exiled from the bathroom.
The rest of the bath was (relatively) uneventful, but was a major pain the back. Literally. Soaping and rinsing a furry 55lb dog takes *a lot* longer than a fur-less 35 lb child.
I still couldn't find a way to make Tova shake. No, blowing in her ear didn't help. It certainly did elicit chuckles from my wife, however. Remembering the scarring from my last attempt to "squeegee" the water out of Tova's fur, I opted for the "squeezee" method this time. Tova looked irked, but I finished with all my digits in tact and relatively few open wounds.
I lined the floor with towels and let her out of the bathtub, figuring to toss and towel over and begin drying in earnest. Tova hopped out with a sigh of relief. I turned to grab the big towel. Tova figured it was a good time to shake. There must be a class during the day while everyone is out that Tova goes to teach her these things.
Not happy with being bitten, scratched, soaped, wetted, and braided (the last done by the 5-year old while I was distracted rinsing dog shampoo out of the 2-year old), I decided to round out my day by adding pummeled, run-over, and burned. I got out the hairdryer. I have since been told that most people put the dog into a crate as a safety feature for both themselves and the dog.
Tova was now mostly dry, so I called it quits and began moving downstairs. Of course, Tova wouldn't go down them either. She then had the nerve to look surprised as I put her back into her (cleaned) crate, rather than be allowed to walk around the house for a while.
Meanwhile, I stripped down to my underwear, got a glass of water and 6 Advil, opened the phone book, and began looking under "D" for "Dog Grooming Services".