Remus’s first bath was the day we brought him home, a flea dip outside to get rid of fleas. We used the hose and he hated it. He squirmed and whimpered and tried to run away, but we managed to get him wet, lathered, and rinsed. He forgave us afterwards.
Well, it’s been a week since his last bath and in typically puppy fashion, Remus has been playing outside in everything he can. He has definitely developed a doggy like oder, it was time to wash him again-this time with a non flea killing shampoo. I don’t know if it’s SOP for wolfhounds to hate getting wet, but Remus definitely does. He doesn’t like going outside early or late because of the dew, he also hates mid afternoon because it’s too hot, he’s a finicky puppy–but we don’t really cater to his finickyness. He goes outside every few hours, regardless of weather or ground condition, and he doesn’t go back in until he finishes his business. And he is going to get regular baths.
SO first attempt at bathing, I should’ve listened to my gut and taking Remus outside before putting him in the tub. He’d peed about an hour earlier, but he hadn’t pooped for over two. I’m in shorts and an old bikini top, the water in lukewarm stillness until Remus’s four flapping feet hit it-he freaks. I try slowly pouring water over him with a cup and he completely spazzes out whining and jumping and clawing in a frantic attempt to escape the water. He’s already 12 lbs, he’s not easy to hold on to, and nothing is calming him down I can feel his heart thudding through his ribcage. In a terrific attempt to get out, he simultaneously craps in the water. Great, I knew he needed to go. Brian’s in hysterics he’s laughing so hard, which isn’t helping the poor frenzied Remus as Brian’s laughter ricochets off the tile floor, so I pick him up-half wet-and put him outside on the deck while I clean the tub. He howls and whines at the door with miserable puppy eyes, but I’m not having any of it. I’m already thinking of how to make this work.
Brian suggests we just wait until he gets back from class and we hose him down outside again. Remembering last time we hosed him off and how panicked Remus got, all I can think of is wrestling a 180lb dog who is still scared of water to get a bath. Hmm. Not really a good idea to train him in habits we don’t want him to keep. I wave my husband out the door, ignore the pitiful bedragled look of my puppy, and head back to the bathroom. I refill the now clean tub with lukewarm water, I get a tupperware dish as opposed to a glass for the water pouring (the glass had already been cracked amidst the excitement of round 1), make sure treats and shampoo are within easy reach, put on my bikini bottoms and steel myself for round two.
I pick up Remus, giving him a treat as I carry him down the hall and into the bathroom. Instead of setting him in the tub, I step in and squat down on my heels, holding Remus between my knees. Predictably, like he does every time he’s scared of something, he backs up into me as close as he can get and sits down. At least he’s not freaking out, and he’s succesfully soaking his rump. I offer him a treat, he’s not interested-a sign he really is scared of this whole proceeding. I drop the tupperware into the water, let him see it as I swirl it around and praise him constantly as I slowly dribble the water down his front. He whines, but no spastic clawing. It’s hard to soak a wolfhound, their undercoat is fluffy and soft and apparently resistant to water. It takes awhile to get him thoroughly wet, but I manage. The shampooing goes relatively uneventfully and the rinsing is over quickly. He tries to make an escape a few times, but it’s more just a stand on his back legs and rest his front paws on my knee to get out of the water as much as possible. I use that to my advantage and scrub his belly. He’s whining, he’s shaking a little, I can still feel his heart racing away as I support his chest with my hand, but he’s not being frantic and I’m not having to use a lot of force to keep him put. Progress.
I carry him outside to towel him off since our AC keeps the house cold and I don’t want him to catch a chill. The sun is warm and the deck is dry as I towel him down. He revives a little and stops shaking. He dries quickly, at least his underfluff does. His long top coat sticks together like eyelashes with too much mascara on. He looks like a punkrocker. I take him down the ramp to pee in the yard, and then back inside I offer him a special treat for his courage.
He doesn’t hold grudges. He was a little whiny and clingy after bath time. So much so that I sat down on the linoleum and he crawled into my lap to sleep. Usually he wants to play or get a belly rub when he clambers over my legs. This time he gave me a few weary licks, curled up his still slightly damp body, and passed out. He slept like the dead. In a few minutes I transferred him to his bed because my leg was falling asleep and he didn’t even wake up.
It was more of an adventure then I anticipated, but I think we’re on the right track. I’m going to be putting him in bath tubs full of water frequently, even if he doesn’t get a full bath, just so he gets used to the idea. It’s a bit of a challenge modifying training with an eye for the future. Sure, he’s easy to control now, but he’s not always going to be this small. I don’t want to enforce bad habits, but some days it feels like there are just too many habits to try to establish or change. One day at a time.