Baths: The Troubling Consequence of a Great Swim

Water loving dogs will do anything (seriously ANYTHING) to immerse themselves in any type of water. Briny oceans, fresh water lakes, brackish rivers, algal swamps, strange smelling chlorinated pools, a good ol’ muddy puddle…we don’t discriminate against any type of aqueous adventure. With one major, tremendously appalling, exception. Baths. I know it is a puzzling contradiction to humans, so I’ll try to bridge the species gap by providing my canine perspective.

I am a water dog, no question about it. In cold temperatures, bad weather, my human chasing after me, yelling “WAAALLLTTEEER,” I will gleefully jump off the Annapolis shore into the Chesapeake Bay under any circumstance. Though I feel a bit guilty about these unauthorized swims, I am irresistibly drawn to the reckless fun and total joyfulness of a good dip. The water just smells appealing, alive with the scents of so many creatures and currents. I love the sensation of my body buoyed to the surface, moving swiftly, but aimlessly through the water in happy circles. My human can’t be mad when faced with my bliss as I come splashing back to the dock. He pulls me out of the water by my harness, smiling slightly, but moving away quickly when I throw my body into an impressive (if I do as so myself), water-dispersing shake.

All is well in the world as my human attaches my leash and we start our walk back home.   He talks cheerfully as I trot alongside him, but then I hear a word.

Wait. Wait. What? No, I must be mistaken. I just acquired all of these incredible odors. Combined with the scent of my wet coat, the fragrance may be a bit pungent, but that’s what makes it really good. Like, someone should bottle this Eau De Soggy Doggie.

But he said it. I know he did. He said “Bath.”

It’s a reaction almost as inherent as my joy in the river. My neck stiffens and ears start to droop. I look up at from under my top eyelids, eyes large. “Come on, buddy. What’s with the gloomy face? This will be warm water with nice bubbles, and I won’t let anything get in your eyes. I’ll massage the dog shampoo in, rinse it off, and you’ll be totally handsome.” As my human cajoles, I slink lower, trying to make him realize his error with my quiet desperation. “Walter, it’s only water! The same stuff you just plunged into! And now you stink, so you get a bath.”

I don’t like to dwell on the details of the bath experience. Other dogs might hate baths for various reasons: the water being not the right temperature; soap in the eyes; or, a slippery tub. One scary experience as a pup and we can associate the word bath with fear. Luckily, my human makes the ordeal as tolerable as possible, reinforcing that pleasant things (like treats!) come with the sudsy situation. For me, it’s just that I hate to lose the smells. A lot of my world is aromatically perceived, and a bath removes much of that sensory guidance. Who am I without my dog stink?

It’s a temporary problem, thankfully. The smells do come back. As my human dries me off, I realize I’ve survived! The end of the bath tribulation calls for celebration. After few victory laps around the house, the weariness following an active day sets in. As I curl up by my human’s feet and he pats my head, there is no body of water tempting enough to move me from this spot where I most belong.

I hope my experience clears up some of the human questions about this topic. I’ve added some pictures of my friends to further illustrate the joy of swimming vs. the hardship endured during a bath. Does your dog relate to the dichotomy between swimming/splashing/rolling in anything wet and bath time? Or do they love baths too? I’d love to hear their perspectives and see any wet dog pictures (yes, even the sad dog bath shots.)

Thanks so much for reading my post! Here’s to happy tails, whether they be dry or soggy! They’re always wagging when they are by your side.