Finally, we were done. It was official. We had a new dog.
Dogs are funny: you know, people say that dogs have this incredible sense of smell, but you don't really realize what that means until you see it in action. As soon as we left the office, that dog practically yanked my arm off running straight to our car. I mean, he picked out our car in a parking lot full of cars on a hot July day with what was probably the smell of dozens of dogs, cats, and people coming in and out. When he reached it, he jumped up and delicately scratched at the door, turning to look at us as if to say, "Hey, come on. You said go home. I bet there are treats at home. Let's get a move on, folks! We're burning daylight here!"
Or maybe it was just, "Hey, wow, what's this big, blue, hard thing that smells like you guys? What a trip!" As I mentioned, Doggish wasn't one of my languages. (An obvious and grievous lack on the part of the university. I must remember to point that out to the foreign language department some day.)
As on the first trip from the university to the pound, the dog seemed to know just what to do. When we opened the door, he jumped right into the back seat and lay down, even letting me fasten the seatbelt around him. Luckily, this time, there was no mud to speak of. The interior of my car (a '92 Geo Metro), unlike that of my friend's Caddy, did not fear dirt, but rather, as they say, welcomed it. My car was the Pigpen of the car world. If my car had made an appearance in one of those commercials with the other talking cars, it would be the one with a cloud of dirt following it everywhere it went. All the local specks of dust that ran away from the pristine Caddy found a warm haven and sanctuary in my car.
"So," I asked Charlie, "What should we name him? I mean, he's got to have a name: we can't just keep calling him 'Brownie'."
Charlie thought about it for a minute, glancing back at our furry passenger.
"Well, you know, with his fur that color, and all kind of matted up, it reminds me of Chewbacca in Star Wars," he mused.
The more I thought about it, the more I agreed. Although the nice people at the pound had indeed cut out most of the worst stickers that were matted into the dogs' tummy fur, there were still a few left. They didn't exactly have the time or the personnel to give the guy a full grooming, shave and a haircut, yadda yadda, so they did the best they could, but he was still one somewhat bedraggled looking puppy. The folks there had him down as a "chocolate brown Cocker Spaniel," but honestly, his fur was so matted and sort of bleached, he looked almost more "chocolate blonde," if that's a possible color. If you'd have skinned him, you could probably make the shin part of Chewbacca's costume (he wasn't a large dog) out of it and never known the difference. Come to think of it, Chewbacca should put his groomer on notice: that guy's fur needs some help. He's probably got stickers all over in there, which would explain why he only talks in groans and roars. I'll be sure to mention that to George Lucas the next time I see him.
"Chewbacca sounds good to me," I told him. "Hey, Chewie, what do you think of that," I tossed out in the general direction of the back seat. By way of response, Chewie stood up, shook himself briefly, and settled back down.
"I guess that means he's fine with it," I laughed.
One thing was for sure, though: we were definitely going to need a groomer, and fast. I figured just shave the guy down and start over - that fur was just awful. We got to the house, and while Charlie got Chewie settled, I looked in the phone book for dog groomers.
One of the more interesting trends here in town over the years is the proliferation of Mobile Dog Grooming shops. Generally, these businesses consist of one person with a van modified to be a self-contained dog bathing/cutting/grooming apparatus. They'd bring out the van and for a reasonable fee (and an electrical connection), they'd pretty up your fuzzy friend at your convenience. Why take your dog all the way to PetSmart? Just call Jojo's (or Buffy's or Jimmy's or Happy Puppy's) Mobile Grooming, and you were on your way to a canine vision of loveliness to grace your abode.
These vans are actually pretty cool. Most of them have a tub with their own water tank, racks of implements including blow dryers and every kind of clipper you can imagine, a little bar to hang the dog's leash from so that you could kind of get them to stay in the tub, and maybe even a little table to do the finish work on. They didn't look like much on the outside - they were mostly beat up old Chevy one-tons - but inside, some of them were like "Le Grande Salon." I never saw one with a chandelier, but I have seen gold and light-edged mirrors.
I picked the second one I found in the book. Hey, my second choice seemed to be working out okay with the dog itself, so I might as well go that way with a groomer.
I dialed the number, and a rough voice answered curtly. "Hello?"
I was taken aback for a minute. I would have expected "Jojo's Mobile Grooming," or, at the very least, "Hello, this is Jojo's." I suppose I was also expecting a dog groomer to sound - I don't know - a little more fluffy and a little less like someone who might like to bite my head off and eat my brains.
"Um ... hi. Is this Jojo's Mobile Grooming?" I somewhat expected to find that I'd dialed the wrong number.
Hrm. Jojo is quite the conversationalist, I thought. "Oh. Um, hi. Well, listen, we just adopted a stray from the Humane Society, and he is really in bad shape. He's got stickers and he's just completely matted up. I was wondering if we could set up an appointment for you to come out and trim him down."
"Yeah, sure," Jojo replied.
I waited, but there was no further elaboration forthcoming from Jojo. I wondered if I should give her the card of the local company that does customer service classes, but regretfully decided that I really did like the people at that company, so I'd let it pass for now.
"Um ... okay, well, when could you come over? We'd really like to do it as soon as possible, because those stickers can't be comfortable for the guy."
"How 'bout tomorrow at noon?" Jojo was waxing absolutely eloquent, by this time. Must be my scintillating and inspirational example. I think it was the way I began all my sentences with "Um."
"Um, sure, that would be great. Oh - I guess I should ask how much you charge for this kind of thing? We've never had a groomer come out before."
"What kind of dog?"
"Cocker Spaniel." I was getting into the rhythm of Jojo's Spartan conversational style.
"Okay, great," I said. "We'll see you tomorrow, then?"
"Yeah." I heard a click, and then dialtone. I was beginning to wonder if the whole mobile groomer thing was a good idea. I guess I'd find out tomorrow.
To be continued...