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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

March 28, 2012

Bath Time

By Elizabeth Creith


When I was a kid, if the dog got a bath it was because she'd rolled in something smelly and disgusting. The bath happened in the basement laundry tub with dish soap and a hose, and everyone was relieved when it was over and hoped it wouldn't be happening again soon.

Now dog groomers abound, and so do the products—pages and pages of shampoos and conditioners and tools and accessories. We don't specialize in grooming stuff, but we do have 4 feet of shelf space devoted to shampoos fancier than the one I have in my own shower. Rosemary-scented, tearless for puppies, hypoallergenic, neem and tea tree, anti-itch, shampoos for dark-coated and light-coated dogs; it goes on and on. It ain't just flea shampoo anymore, baby!

It's not just the show dogs who go to groomers, either. The last time I popped in to see a friend who grooms dogs, she was blow-drying a beagle. Who blow-dries a beagle? The beagle did not look thrilled. In fact, the look of resigned suffering on her face was precisely the same as the one my childhood dog, Lady, wore.

dog bath

Taking the dog to the groomer makes the bath experience different, all right; but only for the one who does—or doesn't do—the bathing. For the dog, it hasn't changed a lot. For a brief moment, a few years ago, it looked like it might.

Every year there's a pet industry trade show in Toronto. David and I go to meet the suppliers and see the new products. A few years ago, someone arrived with a dog-washing machine.

I just want to reassure you here that it was not a top-loader. I do feel the need to say this because my immediate visual image was June Cleaver stuffing Lassie in and slamming down the lid. Really, that would never do. Everyone knows that when you put one large item into a washing machine, you get tangles. A single sheet will wrap itself around the agitator and have to be unwound. You have to throw in a few smaller items to keep the load balanced. Lassie and a couple of Jack Russells, maybe, but not just Lassie by herself. But I digress.

The Dogomatic, or whatever he called it, was a shower for dogs. You put the dog in this big transparent box, the water came on, the soap came down, then there was a rinse cycle and a blow-dry, then you let the dog out and he didn't speak to you for a week.

I had questions about the Dogomatic. Who makes sure the dog washes himself—you know—all over? Oh, wait—we're talking about dogs here. Sorry. But what about getting soap out of, for lack of a better word, the armpits? When I bathe Sky (in the big tub at the store, with a hose), the soap clings there. And what about soap in the eyes? Are there therapists to help your dog recover from this experience, and do they take credit cards?

If you put the Shih Tzu in after the Newfoundland, would the water adjust automatically, or do you have to do it? And if you forget, will you drown the Shih Tzu? Does the dog ever get a Magic Fingers massage?

And, most important, who has to get the hair out of the drain? Never mind, I know that one already.

I didn't ask the questions, because there was a lot of stuff to see at the show and I knew there was no way we were ever going to be running a doggie laundromat. But they linger in my mind, and now and again I wonder: Where was June going to get those Jack Russells to put in with Lassie?

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