Most of you know that we've got a fabulous dog called Archie. He's a chocolate Labrador that we bought when we were living in the USA and we flew him over to Germany when we were settled. He's a brilliant dog and we adore him, he's probably the luckiest dog in Germany. But not today. I don't adore him today.
We've been having a long, hot spell here in southern Germany, and Archie's really been feeling it this year. German houses aren't air conditioned, so when the house gets hot, it stays hot. He's still been getting his two walks a day, but earlier in the morning when it's not too hot, and a much shorter one in the afternoon. He spends most of his day laying on the cool marble hall floor.
The hot spell broke yesterday, and it was lovely and cool this morning with light rain. I thought he'd like a nice run up at the barn (one of his favourite places), so I loaded him into the car and headed off. When we arrived at the barn, he ran around and said hello to everyone before we headed off into the surrounding countryside for a good walk.
A crop of wheat had just been headed, leaving only the shorter stalks remaining and Archie went bounding off through it, leaving me smiling in his wake, thinking "Oh, it must be so good to feel cool and full of energy after being so hot in all that fur". Then I saw a few birds of prey go scattering into the sky from the middle of the field, and THEN I saw Archie go and throw himself into whatever it was the eagles and hawks had been picking at. And he rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled. And I screamed for him come, and begged for him to come, and yelled for him to come. And he rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled.
Then I thought I'd try the old trick of running away from him, making him feel like he'll be left behind, causing him to run after me. And he rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled. And I ran, and jogged, and staggered and wheezed. And he rolled. I ran into the field towards him and, just for a moment, he stopped rolling and gazed at me. Then he dropped his shoulder and recommenced rolling.
Eventually he bounded back towards me, covered from head to toe in something. Something bad. Something VERY bad. It was from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail, over and under his body, and between all his legs. I could smell him on approach.
I knew there were some streams ahead so I didn't panic. I thought he'd bound into the streams and wash most of it off, and then I could hose any remainder off at the horse wash bays back at the barn afterwards.
He went trotting off ahead of me and I was left staggering in his wake, wandering around in his toxic jet stream. It was eye watering. We got to the first stream and it was dry, as was the second one. The hot weather had dried everything up, leaving just a muddy bed.
By this time we were at the village next to the barn and I was starting to panic. The ectoplasm was drying and I was worried that it might set on him. This particular little village has an old ornamental animal water trough on the footpath. That was my only hope, but I knew I'd have to lift him in - and to lift him in meant that I had to touch him quite a lot.
I took a deep breath (through my mouth, I'm not mad) and hauled/lifted/dragged him into this trough and started trying to splash the ectoplasm off with handfuls of water. He was NOT best pleased about this, though after much admonishing from me, he did stand still. I'm not entirely sure that dog washing is what the troughs are intended for, and locals started to gather. The trough is clearly marked "Not Drinking Water", though the smell and colour of it now will be a handy second warning.
Some of the locals started yelling at me, but in my desperation I tried to think of it as cheering me on in my desperate venture as I smiled pointlessly and tried to look as blond as possible. Archie only stood so much of being the centre of such unwanted attention before he took a giant leap out of the trough, shook himself thoroughly (the spray was brown - urgh) and took off down a side street, with me in hot pursuit.
I caught up with him quickly and we headed back to the barn, bumping into my good friend Judith and some of her students on horseback en route. I asked her if she had any horse shampoo and she said she had two large bottles that I could use, and told me where they were.
I tied Archie up into one of the horse washing bays and went to find the shampoo and a sponge. There ensued a fairly messy five minutes, with both of us covered in shampoo, water and ectoplasm, but I thought I'd got it all off after washing every bit I could reach in the scramble of woman and dog who didn't want to be washed.
After a few good shakes, we headed back into Judith's barn to return the shampoo and sponge. Whilst my back was turned to put things away, Archie took advantage of my lapse in concentration and ran into Antar's stable and started rolling in fresh horse poop. Now, as a horse lover, the smell of horse poop doesn't really offend me, so I figured I had the last laugh there. He shook himself again and none of the poop stuck, so I wasn't overly worried.
I loaded him into the car, where he sits on a custom dog seat cover, and headed for home. About five minutes into the drive, I noticed an odour coming from the back seat - and the odour only got stronger and stronger the longer I drove. The ectoplasm had returned, and now it was coupled with the unique odour of wet dog and horse poop. The dog was smiling. Smiling broadly.
There was nothing for it but to drive straight to the lake for his third rinse. I parked as close as I could get to the lake and leapt out of the car, straight into a mound of dog poop. Really. Cursing and hopping, I got Archie out of the car and headed to the lake, picking up sticks on the way. Archie was thrilled with the stick throwing opportunities and bounded around in the lake for a while whilst I waggled my boots in the shallows, washing off the poop.
When Archie looked a bit tired, and every piece of him was wringing wet, I called him out of the water and he had a few more shakes. I put him back in the car and we headed home, where I towelled him dry, before dropping all my tainted clothes in the hall and leaping into the shower. I've since been back out to the car and it stinks, so I've thrown out the custom dog seat cover and I think I'll have to chuck his collar as well.
So, three washes in under an hour. You think that'd be the end of the stink, right? Wrong. It's still here. And it's bad. I don't know what to do now. There's no dog parlours in my part of the world and I guess the only thing we haven't done is put him in the bath and give him another wash, but I've got to wait until my hubby gets home for that one. I'll need back-up.
Anyone have any ideas as to what else I could try? My eyes are watering. The dog, however, is absolutely thrilled and can't stop smiling.