Fido was aghast, but I didn’t know why.
I always figured it was a little-kid thing. Little kids don’t like baths. Neither does Fido.
“What, like I smell funny? Like my coat is matted and worn out? That my undercoat is getting too thick?”
“No, you don’t smell funny, and your coat is beautiful and your undercoat is in top-notch condition,” I said to Fido.
“Then why the bath? Why put me through it?”
“I just figured it would be a good idea, that’s all. It’s been a while.”
“That’s one of the great things about being a dog! I don’t need a bath, first of all, and secondly, lots of dog doctors will tell you the same thing.”
“It isn’t like that with humans, ” I said to Fido. “We take showers every day. Or we ought to.”
“Well, it’s not right for most of us four-footers, and you could look it up.”
And so I did.
Fido and I contacted Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW. Get it?)
Lo and behold, Fido was right!
“It’s not often that you’re right and I’m way off base,” I said to Fido.
“It happens more than you think,” he said. “I just don’t get all flinty about it, like you do sometimes.”
“Flinty?” I said.
“Stern and steely,” he replied. “Humans treat dogs like dogs sometimes.”
Anyway, back to the bath bit, the PAWS people had some really good advice on their website.
“Do not bathe your dog too often,” the PAWS people said, “because that will dry out the skin, deplete healthy oils from the coat and skin, and lead to scratching and irritation.
“See?” Fido said. “Hey hey hey hey! Who wants to scratch and itch? And in a presidential election year, no less!”
“What does the election year have to do with it?” I asked Fido.
“The candidates make me itch and scratch all by themselves. I don’t need more. I need less!”
I read the PAWS website, out loud so that Fido could learn, too.
“Frequency is largely dependent on the breed and activities of the dog,” it said. “Dogs who spend a lot of time outside or engage in outdoor activities that expose them to dirt, bugs and/or debris typically require more bathing, perhaps every six weeks or more frequently.”
“I’m hardly ever outside, except maybe to roll around in the snow,” Fido said, “and that’s not what they’re talking about anyway.”
“Right you are, my good man,” I said, and read on.
“Some groomers recommend bathing double-coated breeds only about three times a year,” the website said.
“Am I double-coated dog?” Fido wanted to know.
“Yup,” I said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you were triple coated, with all this red fur all over the place and at work and in the car.”
“Too frequent bathing can cause the coat to soften and reduce its insulating qualities,” said PAWS.
Even so, I wanted to give Fido a cleanup, even if he didn’t really need a full-on bath.
“There are dry baths for dogs,” he said.
Once again he was right. Fido and I jumped into the car and drove down to the Mammoth Pet Shop, where Mike showed us all the different options.
“Give him a good brush,” Mike said, “and then rub him down with one of these cleaning cloths.”
Fido was interested and so was I.
“No water and soap? No itching and scratching?”
I bought a pack of these towels—there are lots of different dry bath cloths, and we started on our way home.
“Once again, spending money on me when you don’t have to,” Fido said.
“All you really need to do is sprinkle some baking soda all over me and brush it out. Presto!”
“Yeah,” I said, “but I’m going to use one of these cloths anyway. It’ll make your coat shine like Elvis’ hair.”
“What’s good enough for Elvis,” Fido said, “is good enough for me.”