Dog day of summer

Today is dog day. I’d scheduled an appointment with a new vet at two, so the dirty dog and I had a bath this morning.

Tess was sooo good in the bath. She’s never stopped hating it; she trembles nonstop from the moment she knows what’s coming until I tell her she can go. But she no longer struggles or tries to make a break for it, just puts her ears down and cooperates. All I have to do now is point at the bathroom and she jumps into the tub and waits for me, shaking. It’s oddly endearing.

I toweled her down afterward and left her to finish the job — she licks her paws dry like a cat, it’s crazy — and it wasn’t until I got to the vet that I noticed the little grey clouds of undercoat wafting in her path. Ah, summer.

This was the triennial vaccination-and-titer visit, so not only did it involve a new place new people, but also a series of sharp pokey things. She was very brave and only jerked her paw away once during the blood draw. I felt sorry for her afterward and stopped by the pet store to buy her a bone. And a brush.

Tessa hates being groomed, too, and didn’t like the new brush any better, though I did; it’s built to get the undercoat and does so much more efficiently than the old hairbrush I’d been using on her. Most of her undercoat is on her rump, and she keeps sitting down so I can’t reach it, or creeping away when I have to pause and pull a handful of hair from the teeth.

I got a finger-toothbrush and enzyme toothpaste as well; both Tess and Sammy need better tooth care. But I’m not going to start today; she’s been through enough. I’ll let her gnaw on the beef shank in peace for a while, and throw some toys for her later.

I’ve finally gotten her to distinguish between the names of the different toys — ring, bunny, ball — so that she brings me the one I ask for instead of a) whatever’s closest or b) her favorite. Despite the vaunted border collie intelligence, I had been doubting whether Tessa was smart enough to learn much more than the basic sit/come/down/stay. But with this success I’m starting to think again about something more advanced.

Some dogs can learn to fetch beer from the fridge on command. It’s a long process; you have to break it into steps for opening the fridge, holding the bottle, and so on. And we don’t regularly keep beer in the fridge anyway. But I may think of something …

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