A Christmas Bath for Ruby

I love my dog. Ruby is smart, obedient and eager to please. She’s beautiful, intense and energetic and sometimes obnoxious, but she’s very loveable. And when Australian Shepherds are described, loyal companion is always part of the discussion. She is “my” dog. She follows me everywhere. Any room I’m in, so is she. I go into the bathroom, she follows. I lie on the couch, she’s next to me. In my office, she’s curled up next to my chair. That kind of devotion is both annoying and endearing.

I got Ruby when she was 8 weeks old in January of 2005. As a little pup, she wanted to play and please. At the time, I was single and needing a friend, a running buddy, a companion full of energy, who could go on a run and be my loyal sidekick. Ruby was that wonderful friend. I promptly took her to obedience training and she excelled, like most dogs of her breed. I planned to take her to agility training and to make her a dog full of tricks.

Then, ironically, my life changed in a good way when I met my human partner in life. I decided a good dog with good obedience skills and a few tricks was perfect.

Ruby is a beautiful dog—Red Tri Color Australian Shepherd. Her beauty is derived mostly from her spectacular coat. Her breed was developed as a working heard dog; breeder selection had everything to do with how the dogs functioned – how smart and independent they were while being obedient. Other characteristics included hardiness – western cattle and sheep raisers needed dogs that would withstand the brutal climate swings and rugged terrain. And that is how their beautiful coat came to be.

She doesn’t shed too badly for a long-haired dog. But bathing this dog is a chore. We joke that she needs a “Christmas Bath” because that’s about as often as she gets a proper bath. In the summer, we just hose her down with the spray nozzle of the water hose.

But the winter is a different story. And she has been stinking up the joint for weeks now. So I finally broke down and bathed her tonight.

Step 1. Brush out some of that undercoat. (some tangles have to be cut out)

It takes many gallons of water to get her wet all the way through.

Then it takes a lot of soap to get her lathered up. Then it takes a very long time and lots more water to rinse.

And it takes about 6-10 hours for her to dry, including many shakes.

For now she’s sleeping it off.

She smells so much better now. I love my dog. And when she is freshly bathed, she is gorgeous.

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