Shiny Girl

The most frequent comment people make about my Guide dog, Opal, is: “What a beautiful/good-looking/gorgeous dog!”  It usually is followed by:  “So shiny”,  “glowing coat”, “like a mirror”.  Some ask if she just had a bath.  To this I emphatically reply, “NO, I groom my dog daily, but NO BATHS.”  There is no good reason to bath a dog, unless they get into something very unpleasant, like oil or poop. My sister’s border collie is off-leash sometimes and seems to zero in on the first available pile of dog poop.  Rolling around in it gives him great pleasure. My sister? Not so much. She hoses him down in summer, and hauls him over to the groomers for a bath.  Most city dogs are usually on leash at all times, so access to stinky or foul things is limited.   A dog’s coat contains oils (like your hair).  Regular grooming (MINUS THE BATHS) will ensure that the dog’s coat is maintained. Nature will take care of keeping it shiny. A good dog food will help  (stop the people food handouts!)  Daily grooming has other advantages.  It will give you a chance to know your dog’s body and if there are changes.  A little lump or scratch can be taken care of immediately, when you might not otherwise notice for a while (health check).  Also, the dog will become accustomed to being touched all over.  This is a good thing, because one day, you might need to fuss with an ear or other body part, in an attempt to insert drops or change a bandage. Finally, grooming time is very relaxing and grounding for both the animal and the groomer.  So why are people dragging their dogs off the get bathed so often?  First, the professional  grooming business is huge in North America.  They’ll have you believe that you simply MUST wash and fluff Fido, if you really care. Millions of dollars are handed over to the industry… in exchange for what?  allieving owner guilt?  a dog that develops a lacklustre coat? a dog that might go through a needless stressful time in a ‘salon’ environment frenzy?  a dog that smells like…something other than a dog?   Maybe it’s because I am with my dog all the time, but I LOVE her smell. I find nothing offensive about Opal’s smell when she’s wet.  I  don’t object to her breath either. Could it be that those people with dogs as pets, instead of a working dog like mine, don’t have the opportunity (left behind when at work or shopping etc) to really get to know and appreciate their dog’s smell?Some might think that I ‘spoil’ my dog with attention and care.  Yes, I do care for her.  I cary water in my backpack for her. I towel her off when she’s damp. I put boots on her if necessary, or clean the salt off her feet immediately.  I don’t work her in extreme temperatures.  I play with her every day and give her an opportunity to ‘be a dog’.  I ensure her safety and emotional comfort.  I provide routine and consistency in every aspect of her life…work, sleep, meals, rest, play, grooming,  discipline.  Dogs need and appreciate this routine and consistency. In exchange?  Opal is the gift that keeps on giving. 


2 responses to “Shiny Girl

  1. Hi I just wanted to say hello to someone who has a guide dog. I sponsor a pupy in training every year and I was just looking for people who blog about their day to day experiences with a dog.
    Love to Opal!

  2. Hi! I gave her a tickle for you. Thank you for being involved in sponsoring a puppy in training. I will put up a link to the ‘other’ guide dog school (Guiding Eyes for the Blind) where Opal originally started out. Puppy raisers and puppy walkers do great work. Opal ended up at Canadian Guide Dogs For the Blind, in Ontario, Canada. That is where I trained with her. There is a bit of a wonderful story involving her puppy raiser’s family. We are planning to collaborate on a book together. Keep in touch!

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