But I’ve Already Had a Bath This Year
The shop room was a grey-tiled expanse of funny smells, at least ones that Ben had rarely experienced before. He had though, but where, he was at a loss to remember. Ruth had brought him here, to a strange shop in the middle of town and they had arrived just a few minutes ago. He was now sitting in front of her as she sat on a conveniently-placed chair.
Ben was worried, as there were two dogs – one looking much like a Yorkshire terrier and the other looking like Sheila with brown splodges – in cages which lined one wall. They looked like something from the vet’s, and that wasn’t good news. Ben sat anxiously, confused and desperately trying to make sense of what was going on around him. As he sat on the immaculately clean and shiny floor he turned his head and saw a ginger, thin, middle aged woman with shoulder length hair who was pouring shampoo into a bath unit, whistling.
A bell dinged and Ben’s attention turned to the shop door. A man with another dog, a brown Labrador, entered. The dog didn’t look at all nervous, not like Ben was at that moment, and wagged its tail happily. The pair sat down beside Ben and Ruth.
The brown Labrador gave Ben a nudge with his nose. “Hello, mate. The name’s Max – what’s yours?”
Ben jumped at the unexpectedly gruff voice. “Ben,” he replied.
That seemed to make the dog even happier. “Ah, lovely. Lookin’ forward to your bath?”
“Bath?!” the Sprollie repeated quickly, suddenly very alert. “That’s a bath. I’m having a bath. I like my smell—”
At that moment, the woman that Ben had seen whistling came over, taking one end of his lead from Ruth. They were speaking, but Ben was too busy digging his claws into the floor to notice. Of course, as much as he tried, he was no match for the powerful human who had him reluctantly moved to the bath unit in seconds. A huge storm of deep thoughts entered Ben’s head – chicken, chicken, KONG, aborting this mission and chicken again.
Despite these clearly deep and exciting mental conclusions, Ben was hoisted into the air and without any clue, suddenly placed into the bath. In shock, he stood in the lukewarm water hoping it would be over very, VERY soon. Then suddenly a brainwave of questionable sanity, clarity and intelligence hit his head – this was all clearly an evil, evil plot that would threaten all dog-kind (is that even a word?) and the future and very existence of chickens everywhere. Ben thought, Wow I’m just as good at this as Pip is, it’s all worked out now – without a Pip.
Before Ben could be smug for any longer, the dog groomer poured a jugful of water over his head. He shook off the excess, a lot of it landing on the woman’s clothes. She let go of his collar and Ben took his chance.
With little-to-no grace, he jumped out of the bath, sending more splashes in the woman’s direction. He landed on his feet, and for a fleeting, golden moment, he stayed upright. The fact that the floor was smoothly tiled and that Ben was dripping water all over the place meant that as soon as he took a step, he started slip-sliding all over the place. He slid over to the cages with the dogs in them, who were barking their encouragement. Unceremoniously, he swerved a broom and hit the terrier’s cage, flinging the latch open. The terrier pushed the door open, sending Ben flying in the direction of the other dog’s cage and flinging that latch open as well. The two dogs both stepped onto the floor and started sliding around too, banging into each other.
“It’s okay!” Ben shouted over the sound of claws struggling for grip on tiles. “I’ve saved us from cat food many times!”
This was supposed to be encouraging, but the black and brown, large dog just raised her eyebrows. “Mr Pip,” she said, “is that who I think it is?”
Mr Pip was currently entangled in a pile of dog leads and looking very sorry for himself. “Who’s who, Sage?”
Before Sage could answer, she careered into the dog groomer’s legs, sending her sprawling onto the lap of Max’s human who dropped Max’s lead. The large Labrador joined the frenzy and that’s when things really started to get out of hand. His considerable bulk slammed into the bath unit, knocking it over and flooding the shop floor. The other humans in the room looked in horror and shock, desperate to stop the massive chaos in any way possible.
The dog groomer had peeled herself off the man’s lap and looked to be on the verge of tears.
Ruth stood up, put her hands on her hips, and shouted, “Sit!”
Five bums simultaneously hit the floor (five because the dog groomer had just fallen again).
All humans in the room looked in shock at the chaos, damage and considerably large mess that been caused. The bath unit just lay sideways on the shinier, yet messier floor. All mouths were open in shock, although this had no purpose.
It took a long time and a lot of mopping, but soon the floor was dry again. Sage and Mr Pip were returned to the cages to await their owners, Max promised that he would go on a diet and Ben, well, he did indeed get a bath and then groomed, styled and dried.
Just don’t expect him to admit it.
WRITTEN BY JAMES AND RUTH ::: EDITED BY JAMES AND RUTH ::: ILLUSTRATED BY RUTH