Monday, 14 January 2008

Bath Time

I'm into my fifteenth year as a "dog" owner and I have only recently come to bath time. If you've been following my posts, you will know that we chose to have Chows because we didn't want a dog. One of the things that makes Chows non-dogs is that they don't have D.O.* so you don't have to bathe them.

We used to bathe Io Jima once a year at the end of the river season, but it wouldn't have been necessary if we hadn't been foolish enough to teach her to swim. Our current two Chows arrived river-ready straight from the factory, but we avoided the bath chore by occasionally taking the shampoo with us to our daily paddle.

Now it turns out that Nala has allergies. (Actually there is very little that Nala doesn't have.) First she had (has) seborrhoea. We gave her a bath with a special shampoo and started her on zinc supplements. That worked for awhile.

In the past few months, though, she has been scratching to the point where most of the fur around her shoulders and back end is gone. This is not an attractive look in a Chow. She's probably allergic to fleas, said the vet. (Like owner, like Chow.) And maybe other things.

Allergies may initially produce no reaction, but as they accumulate, they reach critical mass and the immune system can no longer cope. Allergies, seborrhoea, fleas and now system overload has given rise to a yeast infection known as elephant skin.

Malessezia Dermatitis
. (Another learning experience. Nala is our Dog University.) The skin turns thick, black and bumpy. And there are hot spots (red, itchy spots; I didn't used to know what they are, either). I didn't notice for close on a year because I am accustomed to dogs with black skin. Io Jima, who was black, had black skin. All Chows have black tongues and gums; I thought black skin came with. Not for red Chows, evidently.

So, cutting to the chase, we (I) have to bathe her twice a week for a month and then once a week after that. Nala likes going in the river. Nala does not like having a bath.

Normally I attach an old flex-lead to her collar, lock the lead, throw the handle into the car and shut the door on the lead. Then she's stuck and has to have her bath. But it's too cold for that now, so she has to be bathed inside.

Fortunately, I do weight training as it takes the power of 10 to move Nala into the shower pan and keep her there. After she, the bathroom, and I are all lathered up, I rinse me and go downstairs to rest up while she marinates for 10 minutes. Then I go back upstairs and we do the push/shove/oof routine, again, so she can be rinsed.

Then she gets half dried and can come downstairs and sit next to the fire. She gets cold and shivers. At least, I think she's cold; she could be having a dream about baths. But we got this nice blanket for Christmas, so we're not expecting pneumonia as an extra added attraction.

Chow owners are not supposed to have to put up with this sort of thing. If I'd wanted a dog, I'd have got one. Where's my drink?

* Doggy Odor

1 comment:

  1. I have been accused of being a lazy pet owner, but years ago I discovered a marvelous thing called a "pet groomer." She has done pets for 25 years and still has her sanity.

    So I have had her not only trim the Poodles but she also bathes the mixed breeds. She has been able to recognize a lot of potential problems and head them off with the right products.