Every month as close to the 15thas possible, I bathe all four mutts. They hate bath time. They hate it so much they remember it and scatter the second I pull the blue leash and my flip flips out of the closet. Everybody runs to a different room and hides behind a different piece of furniture. Meadow is the worst of all. Meadow, the proverbial A-student the one who always behaves, becomes a completely different dog during bath time.
Meadow’s hiding spot (which is always the same) is behind the kitchen table. She crouches in the corner and tries to make her 70-pound body as small as possible. When I slip the leash over her neck, she stares at me with amber-colored eyes that beg for mercy. I gently tug the leash. She follows but hunkers low. She moves so slow she acts like I’m leading her to the dungeon.
I bathe the dogs in the basement’s cinderblock shower. The original owner built it for cleaning up after hunting. After we moved in, Mason had attached a hose to the shower head and it became the perfect spot for bathing dogs. Once down the stairs, Meadow finally accepts the worst is about to happen and sprints the last few feet. She jumps into the shower and sits in the corner. She shivers as she waits for the torture to commence.
I spend twice as long showering Meadow as anyone else. Her long blond coat is as absorbent as a sponge. It takes gallons of water to wet it enough for lathering shampoo. And her fur doesn’t dry for hours. When I say hours, I mean twelve. No joke. The odor of wet dog hair mixed with lavender shampoo fills the house for an entire day after Meadow gets a bath.
Showering four mutts who range in size from 35 to 70 pounds isn’t exactly an easy chore, so I once asked Mason to help. That lasted for two months before I asked him to stop because I missed doing it so much. I realized that for me those baths are a form of communication.
Since my dogs can’t talk, I can only gauge their health through observation. But, bath time gives me the perfect opportunity to do a thorough check-up. Monthly, I inspect their ears, trim their nails, brush their teeth, and investigate their skin for hotspots or fleabites. I feel their joints for swelling and run my fingers through their fur to search for any cuts, lumps, or changes in consistency. Bath time is when I make sure that my dogs are as healthy as possible.
The very second the water stops, Meadow leaps from the shower like she just escaped the guillotine within seconds of her life. Her demeanor from moments ago is gone. In its place is one happy dog who twirls and leaps and cartwheels across the basement, soaking everything within twenty feet.