Warning: This recipe should only be attempted by the a) experienced, b) well-muscled and c) madwomen.
Nor, in a sane world, should it be attempted at all after a long day at work, a fruitless drive out of town, followed by dealing with the leaking fish tank you found when you got home. However, as the dog, besides smelling of dog, now smells of fish-water, having been determined to help, you may have little choice.
Remove all extraneous clothing.
Experience tells you that you might as well. You will regret it if not. It is also a good idea before you do so to close any blinds that allow the neighbours to be traumatised or prompt them to call either the RSPCA or the men in white coats.
Prepare the battle ground.
Fill tub with water, remove any breakables, pile up towels and put all required ingredients within easy reach. You may wish to do this before the removal of clothing in case you have mirrors. By the time you are done, they will be steamed up enough to protect you. Experience will have already ensured that the kitchen and bedroom doors are closed. Likewise the escape-route to the garden.
Next, catch your dog.
This, contrary to all expectations, can be exceedingly difficult in a small flat no more than fifteen paces square. There are a surprising number of places a not-so-small dog can secrete herself. The first port of call is usually her bed. Trying to drag both dog and bed into the bathroom does not work. She is not that daft. Having exhausted all possibilities, she will eventually take refuge beneath the desk and use the secret weapon… the guilt trip. Do not, at any point, use the ‘b’ word… any mention of bathtime will only widen the puppy-dog eyes even further.
This only works a few times. Then they get wise. If tennis balls, cheese and chicken don’t work, you must resort to desperate measures.
Dogs have no inhibitions. She will not even consider your nakedness… when you pick up the leash, she will simply assume you are going for a walk and suddenly become cooperative… at least as far as the bathroom door.
This, providing you have not caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, is a mere analogy. In fact, the dead weight produced by a doggedly reluctant animal makes most sumo wrestlers look like lightweights. You will, however, have to heft this dead weight into the tub. It is not going voluntarily. It is an interesting anomaly that whilst most creatures must go limp to produce the dead weight phenomenon, a bath-hating dog can do so whilst simultaneously wriggling like an eel.
Once the Sumo Eel has been deposited in the tub, you have to lather, rinse and repeat. Fast. And one handed. The other is engaged in maintaining the headlock on the eel…or rump-lock, whichever you are presented with. Modern dog shampoos do not require a ‘repeat’ phase, but given that you will have to repeat the previous step at least three times in as many minutes as she escapes, repeats become a necessity. Rinsing can be done with either a jug or a shower spray. I recommend the jug as it holds a measurable quantity of water when it goes everywhere except on the dog, while the shower spray behaving like a mad snake while you re-catch your eel can have disastrously infinite effects.
Having washed as much of the eel as you can, let it go. The creature that could not have made it into the bathtub were it full of chicken, will now spring lightly over your shoulder. In the split second between its take-off and landing, drop everything, grab a large, fluffy towel and attempt to throw it over the back of the dog. The dog, immediately upon landing, will begin to shake violently and effectively. The towel, with a practiced aim, reduces the flooding from biblical to merely legendary proportions.
At this point, attempt to catch the dog and dry any bits you can hold on to. Then uncork the bathroom. The dog will shoot out at top speed. It is here that you will be grateful that you remembered to close the bedroom door. Nothing smells like wet dog and nothing is as good to dry fur on as your bed.
You probably haven’t for the past ten minutes. But not too much… there is that wet dog smell. No matter how clean and flowery that shampoo may be, nothing clings like wet dog.
Twenty minutes later, the bathroom is sparkling. You have wiped down every conceivable surface with disinfectant and/or bleach. The mat of black fur has been removed from the plug hole. The floor had been baled and scrubbed.
The upholstery on the sofa that you ridiculously washed and dried in the winter sun that very afternoon, is now being used as a static towel. The shaking has extended to the living room and spattered the TV screen, walls and windows. The dog, already almost blow-dried by the speed at which she is cavorting, finally smells faintly of flowers. The bathroom smells vaguely of cleanliness and bleach. You, the living room and the sofa, smell of wet dog.
Get used to it. The hot water will take another hour to heat up enough for a shower. Wine helps.
Support your local grooming parlour… even if you need a mortgage to do so.
Or get a cat.