We returned Otto to my parents this past weekend. If nothing else, the week of dogsitting followed by a 90-minute drive up north proved that if we were to adopt a third dog, we need a bigger car, even if the dog is as small as Otto.
After Otto’s visit, Lucas needed a bath. From a week of playing with Otto, his fur was matted with slobber, and he had chunks of mud stuck to his belly. He really only needs a bath a handful of times each year, and he was due. While this might not seem like a big deal, poor Lucas hates water. Not just a little bit. A lot. He runs from the hose in the backyard. He refuses to dip his toes in puddles on the sidewalk. He won’t swim, and he definitely won’t go into the bathroom. Bathing him is an epic struggle. Last time John tried, Lucas kept trying to ninja-escape from the bathroom. And, of course, nosy Emmett was all up in Lucas’ bath business.
Since then, I have tried everything to lessen the horror of bath time. First, we worked on decreasing his bathroom-associated fear. I left treats in there for him to discover on his own. I started brushing him in the bathroom while giving him tons of treats and praise. Then I got in the tub with him and fed him treats while getting just his feet wet. When it was time for a full-fledged hose down, I cooked him sausages and hot dogs and bacon. I tried liver. No matter what, the poor guy just shut down the second he got in the tub. He tucked his tail, hung his head, and froze, refusing any of the meaty treats.
It’s such a great moment when you find the exact right motivation for your pup, right? It’s such a relief to know that you finally, finally got him past the pain of fear and into tolerance. Yesterday, Lucas got into the tub, allowed his feet to get wet, tolerated his back and neck getting wet, even stood for a good scrubbing. For what?
Slices of processed American cheese.
This was the first bath that he didn’t tuck his tail. It was the first bath that he didn’t forcefully try to push past me to get out of the tub. Heck, it was the first bath that he actually ate the treats I was offering. It was the first bath that we got all the way through the last rinse before he started to get panicky.
All for slices of food-product-flavored-to-resemble-cheese.