Selkie had a bath today.
You know those dogs whose fur is practically waterproof, and they’re impossible to bathe ’cause the fur dries immediately upon wetting it, and you can’t get a good lather? Selkie is not one of those.
Upside? Easy to lather. Downside, her fur takes FOREVER to dry.
And it looks kinda funny and sticky-outy ’cause she won’t let me sit down and give her a good brushing, usually.
This brings me to the reason for the bath. I was playing on the floor with the dogs, when I ran my hand over Selkie’s back, between the shoulderblades, and said, “Gosh, Selkie, this spot on your back is so greasy! How does that even happen?” I then pulled out a little hunk of hair. First alarm bell.
I checked the patch where the hair should’ve been attached and found, as I’d feared, a little oily spot with soft scabs. Second-through-eighteenth alarm bells.
The part of my brain that Worries About Things nearly leapt from my skull in full-on panic mode.
See, this had been the first symptom of a year-long skin fiasco with Gryffon in which we went through a series of diagnoses and treatments, most of which didn’t seem to work, and wound up with a half-shaved mongrelesque, bald-patched pooch. (It’s just a hot spot. It’s a staph infection! It’s a fungus. It’s ringworm which BECAME a staph infection caused by a hot spot!)
Luckily, the part of my brain that Gets Stuff Done took over at that point and politely reminded me that we still have the shampoo used to treat Gryffon and also it’s probably just some minor skin irritation and don’t worry it won’t be as bad as last time.
I got the brush out, not holding my breath that I’d get to use it. Selkie is a very neurotic dog, as I may have mentioned, and when I’ve tried to brush her in the past, she’s flipped out and avoided me for a day or two. But it’s the season for her undercoat to shed (as evidenced by all the hair Spriggan pulls out of her and summarily ingests… and less-summarily regurgitates), so I was remembering what the vet had told me about Gryffon. Apparently, the dense undercoat sheds from the follicle but then gets trapped by the — overcoat? — TOPcoat! When this happens, the shed fur mats up and hangs out; if it gets wet, it holds moisture close to the skin, resulting in a warm, wet environment perfect for little critters to colonize the skin and hair follicles.
In Selkie’s case, she gets irritation in some spots (top of her head, lower back, tip of her tail) where ALL the hair just falls out, leaving little bald patches. This has been the case for quite some time, and we’d chalked it up to a combo of stress and her extreme aversion to brushing.
But it was time. Time to tackle this thing. I briefly thought, “Maybe I’ll just take her to Petsmart to be groomed.” To which my logical brain responded, “Really? You’re just gonna waltz in there with a dog who’s other-dog-aggressive and have the groomer, what, groom her in a muzzle?”
“Maybe I’ll just go ahead and schedule her annual checkup and see if they can bathe her under anesthesia.” (Selkie threatens to bite the vet when he is doing even the most innocuous examining, so we usually just put her under, get her teeth cleaned, ears cleaned, nails clipped, get her brushed, etc.) “No, Heidi. That is a stupid idea.”
So anyway, I’d gotten out the brush, and I slowly approached Selkie with it.
Trying to be soothing.
But not alarmingly soothing, where she knows something’s up.
Yeah, trying to be just normal.
Normal, but with a brush.
And then she totally let me brush her.
Then came the bath. When I put her in the tub, she just froze, completely ignoring the yogurt drop with which I’d tried to bribe her. It was a very long bath, ’cause I did an initial de-griming with oatmeal shampoo followed by two antimicrobial shampoos that have to stay on for at least 5 minutes each.
By the end of the bath, she just sat down in the tub and leaned against the side.
So now, my bathroom’s cleaner than when I began, and Selkie seems very happy. I’m still pulling LOTS of wet hair out of her, but now that I’ve discovered brushing is no longer anathema, I can do that more often, too.
Assuming that hair loss thing really wasn’t the return of the Hairpocalypse.