Dear Goddamned Beagle,
I am not someone who enjoys Fritos. I should, I guess, as I like other salty, crunchy things very much. But Fritos, no. This is partly because of the taste, and I think they’re too thick, too, but it’s mostly because of dogs like you. Dozens of hound-owned humans over the years have sealed the deal by exclaiming, “Doesn’t he smell like Fritos?” in a happy, loving voice.
“Sure does!” I’ve said
“Sometimes I smell the bottoms of his feet. They so Frito-y!”
“I bet,” I’ve said.
What I have not said is, “Yes, and that smell is caused by yeast and bacteria, and oils, and right now I’m trying hard to look knowing and professional without gagging. Oh look! I threw a treat over there! I bet he wants to go get that!”
I deserve points for that, Beagle.
In your defense, while you absolutely stink, and often, you don’t really have that Frito thing. Probably why you’re still around, because it’s not the obedience, that’s for sure. OK, fair – I don’t much care for “obedience,” nor have I trained you to do much of anything but be alone, share things, and stop biting people, but you get my point. Regardless, you need regular bathing.
Your immediate predecessors, Betty and Addie, did not need bathing. Once or twice a year I’d stick them in the tub or take them to a rent-a-sink dog wash, soak down their 90+-pound frames and soap them up. Within a day or so they’d be dry because neither they nor I could tolerate the blow dryer, and frankly I’m lucky if I brush my own hair every day, so grooming wasn’t high on my to-do list.
I mostly bathed them so I could say I did. People would talk about how they’d washed and blow-dried their (name impossibly fluffy, large breed here) last week, so they were good for a week til the next therapy dog session, or play date with the grandkids, or tea with the queen. “How often do you wash them?” they’d query. “That’s a lot of dog you’ve got there. Does it take you long?”
Oh no. Barely any time at all if you if you amortize it annually.
It became clear that things were going to be different with you the first time your sudden, retching hack woke us both from a deep sleep. It turns out beagle effluvium reaches critical mass when left without proper ventilation. You just wanted to stick your head out from under the blanket for a few minutes. I wanted to call Serve Pro to come in and decontaminate. So it was around two in the morning the first time I gave you a bath, and I learned you fit in the kitchen sink, something you had over the Swissies.
You were appalled at the wee-hours sudsing and could barely finish the half-can of wet dog food with the cup of chopped chicken mixed in while I shampooed you.
I also learned that you had strong feelings about drying yourself.
Once we’d both had our turn toweling you off we stayed up watching TV on the couch in the living room for another hour or so til you were dry. The residual patina on the blankets I washed the next day, and a new standard was set: wash the dog and the bedding before we wake up gasping and choking for air.
Today was bath day. The cloud of beagle smog had been building around you for a week or so, but something became stuck in your paw on our walk and I couldn’t find it to ease your limping. I decided to cut our walk short, come home, exercise, and then give you a bath and soak your foot at the same time.
All of that went according to plan. Not quite to plan, however, was me being distracted by a neighbor ringing the doorbell as I was rinsing you. She rang it several times in a row, urgently. Something must be up. I took you out of the sink so you wouldn’t jump out and hurt yourself, and threw a towel on the floor to occupy you til I could get back and dry you properly. I grabbed a mask, went to the door, and listened to her for a couple of minutes. (Nothing was up – she wanted to complain about a guy in a grey car who was parking outside her house these days laughing and talking loudly while he ate, and he doesn’t belong here and who does he think he is, and she’s going to get Mike to talk to him next time. Mike’s a Deputy Chief now, you know. That’ll fix him.) I closed the door, and couldn’t find you.
Where would a soaking wet beagle go? My eyes turned upward toward the bedroom.
It’s true that I’d intended to go upstairs and take a shower myself because I’d washed the sheets and made the bed earlier, and this way everything would be nice and clean. But you’d be dry first. Towels. TV. Couch. Remember?
A brief forensic overview told the tale. You’d finished drying yourself on my side of the bed, on my newly-cleaned blanket – the one I use because you get all the rest of the covers. Satisfied, you then burritoed yourself in your own 50 x 60-inch fluffy throw, pleated just-so to allow maximum steam-baked drying, with vent.
Nice move, but your little play at revenge didn’t work. My side of the bed will dry, and a clean wet beagle smells better than a dirty dry beagle any day. We’ll have good sleep tonight, Beagz.