Richard RiouxPauline HartePatti RasmussenTim WhyteLeon Worden

Learning to let go at the doggie spa

Pauline Harte · October 28, 1997

Don't you just love it when your dog rolls in something not quite of this earth and picks a day when you absolutely don't have time to take three hours to go several rounds in the local do-it-yourself doggie spa?

My faithful pal, Star, did this to me last week, and even if I could have squeezed a few extra hours out of my already over-extended day to give Star a bath, I would have still needed a couple of extra hands. My husband and I always take Star and bathe her ourselves, but he wasn't here to help mid-week. This is a Saturday thing.

I don't know what Star rolled in, but she wasn't going to jump into bed with us smelling like THAT. But handling Star alone for her bath was not an option. I am no match for the half-Chow, half-German Shepherd antics of a very muscular dog who HATES to have a bath.

But Star was going to get a bath, so I drove her to a local doggie grooming joint to HAVE her bathed.

I walked in and announced sheepishly, "Hi. I'm too useless and helpless to give my own dog a bath so I guess I'll let you do it so you can charge me megabucks for being so useless and helpless."

The doggie spa lady knelt and appraised Star's condition. And weight. And "exuberance." I knew the usual fee was going up with every breath she took, every pound assessed.

I was told I could pick up Star in three to five hours!

"Woah!" I gasped, clutching Star's leash in a death grip. "I thought you took the dogs to that big, glassed-in area over there, and their mommies and daddies watch everything that goes on from the other side. Like in a maternity ward."

I started hyperventilating. After breathing deeply for several minutes, I managed to squeak out a few breathless words. "I could never leave Star with a stranger. I don't even know who you are!"

I positioned myself between Star and The Stranger, who was beginning to resemble someone I had seen on "America's Most Wanted." The Stranger then told me that Star would be safe because she would be in a cage!

"A cage?" I screeched. "A CAGE? You're going to put my best friend in the WHOLE WORLD in a CAGE?" Was she kidding? Do they even make cages big enough for Star? Anything big enough for Star would be called a horse trailer.

"No cage!" I ordered. "This is no ordinary dog. This is STAR, my best friend in the whole world. I don't put my friends in cages. And this is my BEST friend. Do you put YOUR friends in cages?" The Stranger backed away from me. Smart lady.

"Star will be fine. Really!" The Stranger purred in soothing tones. "I'll move her up and you can pick her up within two hours. That won't be so bad."

I stood there, paralyzed with fear. I had no idea what to do. I felt like I was leaving a kid on the first day of "real" school. You know, no more Mommy and Me classes. No, I was not going to be allowed "in there" to cluck and hover.

"What do you think about animal research?" I quizzed, desperately attempting to trip up The Stranger. "And what are your views on fur coats and puppy mills?"

I grilled The Stranger relentlessly. She gave all the right answers. With a patient smile. Just what was she hiding? NO ONE could be this nice facing such insanity! Slowly, I handed Star's leash to The Stranger, betraying my best friend in the whole world. Star was led away.

I ran over to the glass partition and tried to catch one last glimpse of Star. I scrunched down real low, put my head upside down and twisted my shoulders around in a position they were never meant to be twisted in.

From this ungainly position, I scooted down the length of the glass partition on my knees. I couldn't catch even the glimpse of a toenail. My nose and lips had left a trail down the glass partition. Everyone in the "pet palace" was staring at me. I didn't care. I had left my best friend in the whole world to an unknown fate with A Stranger.

I stumbled out to my car, where I stayed for almost an hour and a half. Then I slunk back in to the pet palace. I was going to get my best friend back OR ELSE!

Before I could croak out any demands, The Stranger came over a smiled brightly at me. (Too brightly?) "Star is ready. We just left a message on your answering machine. She was wonderful!"

Star was led out. She gleamed, she smelled lovely, and she was definitely having a great time. She didn't look as if she felt betrayed. I was sorry I had caused such a scene. I was sorry about the nose and hand prints down the whole length of the glass partition.

Thank you, PETsMART, for being so nice and understanding to the crazy lady and her best friend in the whole world.

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