Sunday, January 16, 2011

Drying the Dog

Photo by Laurie Shepherd Heath, photographer extraordinaire

Every time Jive the dog comes in these days he's sopping wet. He smells great, too. Well, he puts off a great smell.
There is a pile of old towels by the door, and a folding chair for me to sit in, and we have a few minutes of communion. I throw a towel over him from head to tail, and then commence rubbing him down and drying him off, and telling him what a good boy he is. This praise is most important when I get to his feet.
There may be dogs who like to have their feet messed with, but Jive is not one of those dogs. It is the foot drying that makes him start to walk away. He especially dislikes it when I run the towel between his toes, and try to get the mud loose from his claws. So I've learned to say, "Good boy, good boy," to him while I perform this delicate maneuver. That seems to calm him and get us through the tedious business.
Then when I'm done and he's only slightly damp and his paws don't leave little mud prints on the floor I sit back, and he stands there looking at me expectantly. Usually I'll throw another towel over his head and rub down his head and back again. We both enjoy that part.
Finally I say, "That's it," and we are done. He looks at me to make sure I really mean it, and walks off to whatever corner of the couch he has in mind.
When my husband dries Jive, he usually reminisces fondly about Sadie, our Doberman mix, who passed on a few years ago. When he was drying Sadie off, he would say, "Footy," and she would obligingly raise a paw for him to dry. She didn't like it, but she understood the necessity. Dobermans have reasoning powers.
Jive is a Lab mix, and is not burdened with reasoning powers.
While animals have always been a part of our family, we are not of the persuasion that animals are our babies or children. We had babies and children; animals are animals, with definite animal personalities and natures, and we love and respect them as such. Rick says now that after Jive goes, he would like to have no more dogs, or cats, or rabbits, or rats, or mice, or guinea pigs, or gold fish, all of which have lived with us over the years.
I understand his reasoning: you get so attached to them (except for some of those awful killer rabbits), and then they die. That's the main reason. Rick is tired of having his heart broken. Also there is maintenance and money. We're at an age and stage of life when we need to take care of ourselves, and animal companions take time and care. You have to train a dog, you have to clean the cat's litter box, and you have to pay for food and vet bills. Dogs chew things up, and dig up the yard, and run off and roll in disgusting rotten things and come home grinning. Cats leave disgusting things in the middle of your bed. Worst of all, you will probably have to make the decision to have an animal put down at the end of its life.
Sometimes as I'm toweling Jive down I'm thinking, he may be the last dog. It makes me a little sad, and it even makes getting the mud off his feet a sweet chore. It's a sad part of growing older, realizing that you are doing things for the last time, and that parts of your life are gone forever.
Then I think, I'll bet if I brought home a cat or a dog, Rick would fall in love with it and they'd hang out together. Maybe if as I presented it I said, "Good husband, good husband?" That might calm him down.
Don't tell him I'm thinking this, though. I want it to be a surprise.


S. K. said...

Good column. I suggest giving him a treat (Rick).

lhdp said...

You're welcome to come visit Raven anytime.