Last week I stopped in to buy a replacement bottle of Woody’s special, $30 medicated shampoo. Instead of the clear, lavender gel I was expecting at the doggy boutique today, I squirted something that looked and smelled like Johnson’s Baby Lotion all down Woody’s back. In big, purple letters, the bottle confirmed my mistake. I bought conditioner, not shampoo.
I swear to you, I didn’t even know they made dog conditioner.
I used the gentlest shampoo the shop offers, and followed up with a thorough rub down and rinse with this new conditioner. At least he’ll still get the antibacterial, anti-allergy, anti-yeast, soothing medication, I figured. I just hoped the shampoo didn’t set off a new skin allergy. When we were finished, Woody left the beauty shop smelling fine and as soft as a freshly laundered baby bunny – which would terrify him if they ever crossed paths. He has an exceptionally low prey drive.
Per our bath day ritual, we walked down to the Mediterranean restaurant on the corner, where I ordered Woody a plate of lamb. We sat on the patio while he did tricks to earn every bite. The patrons always enjoy the Woody show, and he loves the attention almost as much as he does the people food.
Still feeling frisky from his bath, I kept him with me while running errands, eventually stopping at the pet store to buy the correct shampoo on the way home.
Woody loves this store, and in his advanced age and new found calm, I bet I could walk him around off leash.
Well, I would have. I’d have been dead wrong, but the outcome wouldn’t have been drastically different.
The one exception to his low prey drive is birds. I’ve watched him grab them right out of the air in our back yard. Madi employed him, regrettably, to help get a stuck bird out of her bedroom. Effective, but disgusting, as he vomited the poor starling onto her carpet.
Today, hunger wasn’t a contributing factor – his belly was full of lamb. I think it was just a case of the after bath friskies, combined with, obviously noticing for the first time, the pet store’s delectable selection of Parakeets. It was the perfect storm, really.
My mindless stroll to the grooming aisle was interrupted by a bark, a painful tug, and then sudden slackening of his leash. I looked up to see Woody in his signature trick, reaching for the sky. The full weight of a normally sedentary weimaraner fell against the middle case in a stack of glass bird tanks. It, and the one above crashed to the floor.
Woody forged into the broken glass, bird bedding, and feathers to pluck himself a chew toy from the flock; a beautiful Carolina Blue one.
The employees outnumbered the customers at that time by about 2.5 to 1, but everybody appeared at the scene of the crime in time to watch Woody take his first chomp of Tweety. When the bird squeaked, I knew he was done for. Woody mistook his cry for help and I said aloud, “Oh my God! He’s going for the squeaker!”
Each little birdy plea egged him on to chomp again until the guy I’m pretty sure was the manager told me to Get. That. Dog. Out. Now.
I tugged at Woody’s scruff – his collar lay broken at the other end of the leash I was still holding. It was then that he seemed to come out of his adrenaline trance. He stood, head cocked in confusion, with the front end of a feebly struggling parakeet hanging from the left side of his mouth.
I was probably in shock, too. “Do you want him to leave the bird?”
I think he told me to take it, but I wasn’t fully processing everything yet. I grabbed the top of Woody’s snout and told him to leave it.
He did. Begrudgingly.
I took him to my car and rolled down the back windows in silence. I do not know what you say to a dog who just ate an innocent parakeet in public. With no way to clip him to his car harness, I hoped for the best and went back inside to ask if I could help clean up.
No. I could not.
Could I at least pay for the bird?
Yes. Most certainly.
I was still dragging the broken collar on the end of Woody’s leash, I realized.
Can I just go look for a new collar, real quick?
As I was paying for the ABC bird and Woody’s bright, new collar, the presumed manager came to me to officially excommunicate my dog from the good graces of the pet store.
Sitting on the back deck, thinking I should really have a word with him about today’s events, but still unable to fathom what that word would be I suddenly realized – I forgot to get the shampoo.