A bath for the reluctant bather

Boomer is a lovely dog. He’s affectionate, obedient, (most of the time), intelligent and patient, and he seldom barks. All great attributes.

He’s large — 80 pounds — but so cooperative that his size has never posed a problem. We all love him and want him to enjoy the best of health. That’s one of the reasons we invested in a very expensive flea collar that is supposed to work for six months.

We’ve used this type of collar for a while, with good results. But suddenly, in the last month, something has gone terribly wrong. Boomer is covered in fleas. They are driving him crazy, and so I thought it would be a good thing to give him a bath using the “special” flea and tick shampoo, also expensive, we bought for this purpose.

Boomer has always been a cooperative bather. In the past, he has always seemed to enjoy his bath and has never posed a problem. Until two days ago.

I snapped the retractable leash onto his collar and led him upstairs to the bathroom. This was not his first rodeo, and no problems were anticipated.

I’d put a plastic sheet down next to the tub, had the shampoo at hand and had stacked the two dog towels on a side table.

The water was turned on and adjusted to warm, and I left the sprayer dangling while I told Boomer to climb in.

Unfortunately, Boomer did want to climb in. Indeed, he resisted to the last ounce of his considerable strength. We struggled in a somewhat uneven match. He is definitely the stronger party, and if his collar had already been removed, it would have been a lost cause.

I dragged him by the collar with one hand, and with the other, I placed each front foot into the tub. He was straddling it, half in and half out, and for the life of me I could not get his back end inside at the same time.

So, unwilling to surrender, I sprayed his head and front end down with warm water and soaped that half thoroughly. Perhaps a thousand fleas rose to the surface among the suds. I let the shampoo sit on him for several minutes, then rinsed his front half thoroughly. And yes, the floor did get wet.

Next, I pulled one back leg into the tub, but during this transfer of ends, he managed to get his front end out. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but it was better than not having either end in the tub.

So, I rinsed his back end and stomach down with warm water and soaped him up. Another thousand fleas appeared. The shampoo was full of them.

After they all looked dead, he went through the rinse again. At this point, there wasn’t a dry stitch on me. After the water began running clear and it looked as though he was flea-free, I released his collar and he leapt from the tub, then shook vigorously, wetting everything in a 10-foot radius.

But he was clean.

I towel dried him, then led him down to the back deck, thinking he could dry before being released into the yard to roll in whatever dirt could be found. But it started to rain. I accepted the inevitable and let him out to happily frolic in the rain and roll in the dirt.

But, at least for about half an hour, Boomer was clean as a whistle and completely flea-free.