You probably know that you are working too hard when washing the dog seems like a bit of a break. But Toby did need a wash, not because he was dirty, but because he's itchy and allergic and unhappy.
He doesn't enjoy the experience at all, but he wants to do the right thing, so he just huddles there, looking thoroughly miserable, and wet, with his normally perky ears right down, and a vanished tail, and making you feel like a remarkably imaginative and soulless torturer.
But it's soon over, and it's off to 'My new favourite thing!' a W-A-L-K, which is a reward, as Bev says, for all the pack.
Mine, all mine!
After the walk and the transformation of the washing room from a stable block with the stable-boy on strike back to human-habitable, one begins to notice the smell of the dog shampoo.
It's mild, like some other hardworking smells - woodworm treatment comes to mind.
We'd changed all our clothes, but we smell of the damn stuff. The bathroom smells of the damn stuff - Toby of course, stinks of it, and it slowly becomes clear that the house smells of it, which is where the woodworm treatment comparison comes back to haunt. Are we going to have this for months?
Losing one's special biscuity smell must be some offence against the Declaration of Basic Dog Rights. Perhaps this smell is a subtle revenge? Smell, as any dog will tell you is very, very important. How else do you know who's who?
There could be no photographs, for reasons all-too-obvious, but our illustrator has stepped into the breech, sketching madly-away like an Official War Artist in a combat zone...
As I write this, someone's lying asleep next to me, working on getting 'his' smell back, dreaming doggy dreams, and looking like a little bear.
I wonder if he remembers enjoying the towel?
James - with illustrations, of course, by Bev.
PS: Talking of washing dogs, like all real dogs, there's a bit of Harry the dirty dog in Toby.
It's a great book, by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham, well worth seeking out. It seems to be filed in the kids' section which is clearly a mistake; it's wasted on them. And a big thanks to the local Darebin councillor who ensured Harry was enshrined on a mosaic covering a street tree planter. Harry, local hero.