Friday, October 19, 2012
A New Dog?
I wanted to give him a bath on a warm day because I had started to become concerned about his health. He is, after all, eleven years old, and I know our time left with him is short. His normally soft and lustrous fur was looking grayish, and felt coarse to the touch -- not Howie-pelt. I pulled out a big galvanized tub, and filled it with warm water from my bathtub. If Howie was starting to get ill, the last thing he'd need is cold water.
He played in the hose until he was soaked, then obligingly lay down and stretched out while we soaped him and massaged him, one side and then the other.
Handfuls of hair came loose as we lathered him.
The big tub of warm water we used to rinse him off, then let him play in the spray of the hose for a few minutes. When we rubbed him semi-dry with towels, another raft of hair came loose on the nap. A walk around the block was in order in the hot sun so that he could dry a bit better.
He looked horrible, like a walking example of terminal mange. Some of his fur was still lying flat, many tufts stood out, gray and matted from the scrubbing.
A large-tined brush broke up the worst of the mats; a rake loosened some of the undercoat that was thick and slowly coming loose. A slicker brush picked up the hair, over and over again ... Something like a bushel basket of fur was shed off the dog, leaving behind a clean striped coat.
Now to be fair to us, Bernie and I both had at Howie with brushes a few days before, and got a huge pile of hair off him. And I'd done it a week before, combing out another mountain of hair.
The warm and soothing bath blew that dog's undercoat right off his skin.
Today his fur is silky and shining, soft and sweet-smelling (and I don't mean perfumed.) Nothing about that gorgeous striped coat says "Old dog" or "Ailing dog."
Nothing like a warm bath at the end of summer's undercoat season.