Title: Tale Waggers - Humiliations Galore  Photo: Earnest and Arthur in the Tub 


Love and trust go hand in hand in the company of dogs.

As a result of their devotion, our furkids have been subjected to some world-class annoyances and humiliations of mammoth proportions.


Just when you have your stench the way you like it...

In my prime, I made a regular ritual of tossing all three dogs into the bathtub at once. Using the handy shower massage (which we bought especially for that purpose), I would swoop down the row, soaking the unfortunates to their skins. Then, working quickly, all were lathered. The first in line waited impatiently for their final rinse - occupying their dogselves by licking suds off other dogs then washing them down with bath water. Finally, after a few halfhearted attempts at escape, the rinse cycle sloshed from dog to dog. Then the poor creatures endured the endless wait for the tub to drain while pacing and shivering. Next, they were dried quickly - like cheap dinnerware. The drying process was a major humiliation - dog bodies bent and squeezed and tousled - how depraved! To make matters worse, bath time became a dangerous affair when Tristan, just a pup, got tired and decided to lie down for a nap in water over his head. Fortunately, bubbles coming from underneath Arthur alerted me before any permanent damage was done.

Poor Emma was so humiliated by her first bath that I'm amazed she will go near the tub. Preparing frantically for a trip, I tossed Emma and Arthur into the tub and began the scrub. As I suds up Emma, then just a 12 week old wiggling pup, I was horrified to find a lump on her thigh. I poked and prodded and squeezed, trying to determine what the terrifying mass might be. Was it just a cyst or something that would require surgery? Emma had the oddest look on her face. Upon re-examination, the lump was not exactly on her thigh after all. Having spent my life with boydogs, I was woefully uninformed about female dog anatomy. My laughter did not make Emma feel any better about my trustworthiness as a dogmama.

I've almost got his head through...

Bows, bandanas, sweaters with colorful Christmas motifs... Dolled up in unnatural splendor, the dogs are photographed and admired. All the while, they're wishing the person who trussed them up in this gear would burst into flames and it shows on their faces. At one point Earnest and Arthur were forced to wear "adorable" T-shirts that said "4 on the Floor" on the back. I picked them up for a song but they shrank in the wash. Still, I stuffed the boys into their finery until everyone I knew had seen the T-shirts.

Even with the best intentions, humiliation is just a yip away. As Arthur aged, we felt the need to wrap him up in a doggie sweater on chilly nights. After working up a nice static charge trying to scrape the acrylic atrocity off on various pieces of furniture, he became our nightly bedtime light show as sparks flew off him at every touch. He was not amused.

The Vet
Take my temperature where??? With all the other dogs watching???

Aside from the obvious humiliation of pokes and prods and rectal thermometers, a quick trip to the vet can damage a dog's dignity in a variety of ways. Our vet keeps several cats lying about as blood donors. They lead a luxurious life, sleeping in the sun and being fondled by every visitor. They also enjoy the benefits of sauntering by dogs restrained on the examining table - laughing and mocking as they pass. A few are so brazen they run their tails across the muzzles of totally humiliated dogs. Arthur made many grabs over the years but was never successful in updating the definition of "blood donor " to his standards.

One visit to the vet brought a particularly bittersweet humiliation for Arthur. For years, a rowdy pack of squirrels had taunted our pack from the safety of towering trees. Arthur always led the chase when one of these hooligans was spotted on terra firma. Although he'd felt a tail brush his face a few times, he'd never achieved the glory of an actual capture. He was standing in the vet's lobby minding his own business one day, when a door creaked open and there, in plain sight on the floor, was - YES! - a squirrel. Arthur's cat chases had prepared him for this moment. He knew ever inch of the office. This squirrel was HIS! Before I knew what hit me, Arthur ripped loose and made a beeline for the terrified rodent. He never saw the cage until he hit it - hard. The snickering crowd did nothing for his morale.

Yes, a simple trip to the vet offers boundless opportunities for humiliation. My first pack always liked to take control of the situation by barking non-stop at any dog foolish enough to enter while they were "in charge" of the front desk. One day, a large and impressive foe stumbled in and tried to greet my nasty boys. Somehow the barking fiends quickly assembled themselves into a doggie pyramid with Tristan standing on the capable shoulders of Arthur and Earnest. Now at least Tristan was able to take on this giant face to face. The effect was not scary in the least, although it was a nimble and totally unexpected strategy. I swear the big dog laughed as he left the room and the subsequent pyramid disassembly was very undignified.

Doped up Doggies
"they may act strangely for a few hours..."

Arthur and Earnest were neutered the same day - just after a terrible storm of "yellow rain" washed over our home. Once the deed was done, I slunk in guiltily to retrieve what was left of the boys. Earnest was stiff as a board. I carried him to the car and stood him up on the front seat. He was rigid. As I shut the door, he fell over onto the floor completely unaware that he was now "standing up" on his side. I raced back in to get Arthur, who was so limp he was nearly impossible to carry. He kept grinning at me and then pouring himself out of my arms. Finally both doped up doggies made it in and out of the car. They were so happy to be home. They careened into walls, knocking themselves over. They attacked the food and water bowls only to learn they had forgotten how to swallow. Food fell out of dazed faces and water was completely impossible to ingest. The next day, they didn't remember a thing, but Arthur had a vaguely confused look...as though he'd misplaced something.

Duncan walked backwards for hours after his neutering. As he walked, he looked over his shoulder with puzzlement and a slight panic. Being sensitive and caring dogparents, we left the room to laugh.

The Groomer
"I'm just going to express his anal gland..."

A trip to the groomer is an ongoing and multifaceted torment. First comes the hated bath, including that special doggie humiliation - the unspeakable anal gland torture, followed by hours of watching other dogs being humiliated. Once the dog is unpleasantly clean, all the newly washed fur is removed, leaving the dog naked and itchy and peeved. Then toenails are stolen and some god-awful new smell is applied. All the while, other dogs are watching and laughing. Then the poor unfortunates wait forever-times-ten until mama hauls her lazy butt over to pay their bail. The whole time they suspect mama is at home rolling in all their great mud holes and playing with their toys.

Our groomer uses a sling suspended from the ceiling. The dogs are restrained comfortably and her back is babied just a bit. The dogs also look highly comical - dangling there like canine wind chimes. Arthur once saw me come in and started launching himself off the wall with his hind legs. Running madly in the air and swinging like a doggie pendulum, he could not figure out why he never got any closer to me...a new wrinkle on grooming humiliations.

Fun and Games
Are we having fun yet?

When Earnest was just a pup, I found a book in the library that promised endless hours of "fun with your canine friend". Well, we'd done fetch and walkies and hide and seek and running and wrestling, but the book mentioned an exciting new way to bring glee to your pup - blind man's bluff. All you needed to do was blindfold your furchild, hide somewhere and let him find you with his clever little nose - excellent entertainment for one and all. What was I thinking?? I'm pretty good at foreseeing disaster, but I mentally blinked off for a moment and, with papa watching proudly, I tied a bandana over the eyes of my first furkid and let 'er rip. What should have been predictable to anyone with an IQ of over 50 became a horrifying reality as Earnest raced through the living room bashing into countless pieces of furniture with his head. He bounced off one, then another, as we frantically chased our newly blind dog. Finally, nearly knocked senseless by an end table, he paused to consider how much actual fun he was having - which allowed us time to remove the blindfold and apologize profusely.

To Err is Human...to Forgive, Canine

What tragic lives our furry friends lead. Countless humiliations - large and small - with people always hanging about to chuckle at doggie misfortunes...They're hostages of our strange ways and innocent bystanders caught up in the bizarre behavior of our species. It's a wonder they don't pee on us while we sleep.


Copyright 1998 Elizabeth Cusulas

Tale Waggers - Stories for Dog People
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Reproduction without written permission is expressly forbidden