We had been meaning to go for months and months. It is called, "Smelly Dog" - a do-it-yourself dog wash business off 7th Ave. The concept was as catchy as its name; no more nasty bathtub at home to clean after giving the dog a bath. Ellie is an outside dog, and she was really over-due for a good bath. After a vigorous brushing in the far corner of the back yard, the girls and I put her in the car and we headed out to 'Smelly Dog'. I was nervous, because Ellie is afraid of new people and sometimes acts aggressively towards other dogs. We didn't know what to expect about the place or how Ellie would react to it.
Inside we were enthusiastically greeted by half a dozen fluffy, happy dogs of all different sizes, shapes and colors. 3 or 4 human faces looked up and smiled as well. I swear they greeted our dog first. Lovely doggie treats were displayed everywhere in large, open bins and plastic containers. (I felt personally tempted by the ones that looked just like chocolate cookies with rainbow dee-dees on top). Two handsome young gay guys ran the place. One of them was lathering a big hairy dog, and the other squatted in front of the now cowering Ellie who had plastered herself flat against the tile floor. He put out the back of his hand to her nose, and spoke directly to her. "We're a little scared, are we?" he stroked behind her ear. Asia was explaining how Ellie isn't around other people or dogs very often, and that she was especially afraid of men, but none of that didn't seem to bother this guy one bit. The young man directed us to stall #3.
To our surprise, they supplied everything we could need, and more than I knew even existed for a dog bath. We each put on plastic aprons, and watched as our host deftly removed Ellie's collar for one that attatched to the front of the elevated tub. She submitted to the warm water wand, the 'no tears' shampoo (lots of it), the conditioner and the doggie spray-cologne that smelled like flowers. All the hairs fell into a little bucket under the drain. We toweled her and blew her with a hair dryer that was a long vacuum-like tube from a little plastic red dog house. We combed and brushed her blonde fur, and dabbed the inside of her ears with a cotton ball dipped in 'ear-refresher'. It was funny to be part of 6 arms and hands busily working over one dog.
The end result was a beautifully scented fluffy Ellie with freshly clipped toenails at no extra charge. She seemed to enjoy the whole thing, in a reserved way - it was actually kind of hard to tell because she still cowered and cringed with ridiculously sad eyes. She tentatively touched noses with some of the other furiously wagging dogs without incident. They made a little index card for our return visits, and filed it under Ellie Tanner. Our 6th visit would be free. Outside, we praised her for her good behavior. She looked like a different person entirely. We were damp and spitting out hairs while our dog looked like a canine queen. At home, I worried about the dusty back porch getting her dirty. I swept it and hosed it and spent half an hour making it spic and span. We kept her inside until the 111 degree heat outside dried the porch completely, and when I let her out, I ruffled the silky scruff of her neck and took extra time petting her again and telling her how much we admired her new look.
As soon as I was in the house and shut the door, I could see her through the window watching my retreat. After 5 immobile seconds, she ran to the middle of the yard and skidded her entire right side violently across the ground. She clawed like a mad badger as she plowed her body forward, making grass, dirt and pebbles fly. I yelled at her through the glass, but it was too late. She only paused long enough to switch directions and repeat the violation to the opposite side. Tongue lolling stupidly from her grinning mouth, bits of lawn and leaves delicately settling on the tips of still fluffed fur, I realized that now I was looking at a truly happy dog.
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