If you think that having a water dog means that they like water, I’m here to set the record straight. Some do, that’s a fact. Some water dogs definitely live for the good wet stuff in any form: lake, ocean, mud, trough, fishpond, rain and even snow—they cannot resist partaking. Others, not so much.
We have two dogs that are of breeds that fit the category of water dogs, Mimi and Toby, and we have a long history with more. Marcus was a beach dog, living to play ‘fetch the flip-flop’ in the surf. He looked magnificent belly surfing the waves on the California shore. When we moved him out to Estes Park, he took to the lake like, well, a Labrador to water. He even came to shore with fish in his mouth—I kid you not.
Merlin was an Evergreen pup. His leanings fell more into the waters of Maxwell Falls, Bear Creek and Evergreen Lake. When those weren’t available, he’d sneak off to our neighbor’s mossy horse trough and come home smelling of it. We took him to work where there was a run-off pond. He could not resist sneaking off to wallow in it, especially if it was low with sticky mud and extra mossy.
Mollie was not enthusiastic about water, but she loved to play fetch. We wanted her to be comfortable in the water, so we threw the sticks in the lake. She went in alright, but nearly drowned Merlin trying to swim ashore. Her method was to get to the nearest big floating thing and climb aboard. He was the nearest big floating thing. We scratched that practice.
Neither Mimi nor Toby care for water much. Being Labradors, you’d think that’s not possible, but it is. If it’s raining outside, they blink and shoot looks at us that say, “Seriously? You want us to go out in that?” We have a small summer swimming pool that they could splash around in to cool off. Mimi likes to drink the water. Toby only gets in to fetch a toy and then it’s only for a quick in and out. Even though I’ve been tempted, never have I caught either one of them crouching down to wallow in the cool water. At this point, I would be shocked if they did.
Whether your dog likes water or not, bath time is a necessity. With this crew, ‘bath’ is a four-letter word right up there with the worst in your vernacular. But, like it or not, there comes a time. Their behavior changes the minute they see the dog-washing implements come out: bucket, sponge, shampoo, pitcher, towel and brush—all incite fear. Mimi tucks her tail and tries to make herself scarce. Toby does the same. When everything is ready, calling them outside won’t be enough. I have to go find them and physically lead them outside. I usually pick Mimi first because she hates it more—get the tough job done first. I’m very gentle and work so hard to make sure she doesn’t feel traumatized, but never succeed. When she’s clean and released, I have to chase her down with the towel because she wants to get far away from the mean washer lady as fast as she can. Then, it’s Toby’s turn. Oh, if dogs could talk, you’d think I was giving a foul-mouthed sailor a scrubbing. When it’s all done, biscuits and ‘good dog’ dispensed, they each get a brushing. That’s the second part of the torture and I’m the torturer.
But then it’s all done and the dogs are clean. Despite their fears, they survived. They will live to see another day. And they like me again. Little do they know… I have a calendar with a little note that says ‘bath time’ set for two weeks from now, and with every carefree sunrise and sunset, it marches them closer to that fateful time.