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We Take a Bath
San Antonio Dogshows continued. I miss having pictures to illustrate my stories, but I had stopped taking my camera to shows. Craig didn’t bring the camcorder anymore, either. We were all business.
At every show one or another generous exhibitor would step up to help us. In San Antonio, we had a new mentor named Heidi.
A relative newcomer with only five years of experience, Heidi brought a keen intelligence to her new hobby and was doing quite well. She worked on Weegie's training, Craig's grooming and my handling.
She was understanding, too, remembering well what it was like to be showing your first dog. I confess it alarmed me when she mentioned that her first dog had retired point-less.
Heidi said she'd bathed her dog the night before in her hotel room. Did she always bathe her dog for every show, I asked? Oh yes.
I looked at Weegie. Craig had thought he could just wet her down and blow her out, but she didn’t look good enough to me. We would show late that day. I decided Weegie had to have a bath first.
I had noticed people leading wet, frisky dogs, and I remembered reading something in the premium list about bathing facilities. We decided to explore.
Out in front we found three plastic tubs on legs, and hoses with nozzles.
“Can we use those things for free?” I asked the lady inside at the registration desk.
“Of course,” she said.
That decided it. I went back out to Craig and Weegie and the tubs. We would wash her. It’s a good thing, when you are hard-bitten fifty-something professionals, to wade into a world where you are babes.
Craig left us waiting by the tubs while he went to the car for towels. A distinguished-looking gentleman arrived with an Afghan. I stepped back diffidently as he led his dog up to the middle tub.
The man was tall and white-haired. He wore a dress white shirt and apron. His sleeves were rolled up, but later he would wear a tie and jacket. This was the Afghan’s handler, you could tell.
The dog stood like a noble statue while the man drizzled blue shampoo across his back and lathered him.
I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get the Weege to stand still for grooming. She is better now than she used to be, but she is still in nearly constant motion when I try to work with her.
Craig has slugged it out alone with Weegie on a few occasions, so she stands pretty still for him, as long as I am not present. I leave when he wants to groom her.
Maybe I should have let him bathe her alone. But in these unfamiliar surroundings, for better or for worse, we had decided I was going to help him.
While we waited for Craig to come back, I picked up the nozzle of the hose for my tub. I pointed the head into the tub and squeezed the handle. Nothing. I felt the hose. No water.
I replaced the nozzle in the tub and walked over to the manifold where the hoses were attached. They were governed by little levers, and I couldn’t tell which way was on and which was off.
I was afraid I’d shut off the water that the man next to us was using and annoy him, so I studied the tangle of hoses carefully and felt them to see which ones were full before I threw the valve on mine.
Instantly, it sprang to life. The nozzle snaked up in the air and sprayed a blast of water in a huge arc that miraculously missed the man and the Afghan and the back of the security guard standing nearby. The nozzle dived into a corner and came to rest gushing up against the wall. I picked it up in alarm and examined the handle.
“I thought it would shut off here,” I said apologetically, holding up the handle. “I guess it’s broken. I’m not sure what to do.”
“Shut it off,” he said. I did.
Craig got back, and I told him the nozzle didn’t work. I didn’t say I’d nearly raked the man next to us across the face and body with the spray.
“I know,” he said. “I meant to tell you to use the other one.”
But now of course Afghan-man had it.
Craig picked up ours and said, “You have to have it in your hand when you turn the water on.”
We put Weegie in the tub and started wetting her down. I tried to hold her head while Craig washed her. Weegie likes water, but she writhes and spins constantly when bathed. I held on for dear life but she was too strong for me. I could hold her head still, but I couldn’t stop her from flipping her body left and right and shaking the water off. We were soon both drenched.
The man with the Afghan was working with his back to us now and couldn’t see how nearly he got blasted in the back with the hose while the two of us struggled with our 22-pound dog. What if we had hosed the dignified Afghan in the side of the head? The man would have been furious. I was relieved when he led his dog away. Craig said he was surprised the man had turned his back on us.
“I wouldn’t have,” he said.
At last the deed was done. We all walked back through the Alamodome dripping wet. I swapped out my wet smock for the jacket I would wear and made myself scarce so Craig could blow-dry and brush the Weege in peace.
It’s not a bad idea to separate from your dog for a while before you show. And I like some time alone to mentally prepare. I was determined: this time I’d be ready.
Continue: We get the point.