Dogside Manner

Scene: Vet’s Office
Players: Beedoo, Beedoo’s Very Sad Dog, (Insensitive Excuse for a) Vet

VET: Wait—didn’t I just see your dog?

BEEDOO: Yeah, last Saturday. She had her checkup, she was fine, I took her home, I gave her a bath, and now she won’t stop scratching. There are all these clumps—

(gently pulls a chunk of hair from her dog’s back, with accompanying bleeding)

just coming right out, and I don’t know what—

VET: Oh, man. (to dog) You poor thing.

BEEDOO: Yeah, so…

VET: OK. I’ve seen this before, on a little dog, pretty old, and the owners didn’t catch it until it was really advanced; basically, there’s a flesh-eating bacteria on your dog.


VET: Yeah. For whatever reason, probably from the bath or not drying her off properly, the bacteria just went all the way down her back and that’s why all the hair is falling out, and why it’s bleeding is because the skin is all dead. Now, with the other dog, it was way too far gone, to the point where the only option left was to lift the skin off the dog’s sides (demonstrates on my dog) and surgically staple it back on top, but they opted not to do the surgery, so basically, it killed their dog.

[Very long pause, in which BEEDOO and VET stare at each other, the former with eyebrows raised in shock, the latter occasionally nodding smugly.]

BEEDOO: But… my dog’s going to be OKAY, right?

VET: Well, she looked fine last week—I definitely would have noticed this if she came in this way for her checkup, so since she’s only been like this for a few days, then—


VET: With a course of antibiotics and a—


VET: She’ll be fine, yes.

[BEEDOO blinks back tears of inappropriate death-harbinging, pets her dog sympathetically]

BEEDOO: Okay, then.

VET: Still, this happened pretty fast… what did you give her a bath in?

BEEDOO: Well, (sniffs) we were out of the oatmeal stuff, so I used regular shampoo.

[VET makes a face like I said “I drowned some kittens in a boot.”]

BEEDOO: …what?

VET: People shampoo.

BEEDOO: Yeah. Suave, I think.

[VET wordlessly checks over the dog’s back, clumps of hair falling freely. Dog looks at me, in pain, annoyed.]

BEEDOO: I, um, tried to find one with the least amount of flowery scent, and I didn’t use any conditioner…

VET: (tersely) Yeah, ok. You can’t wash dogs with human shampoo.

BEEDOO: Um, okay. Except you can.

VET: No, you can’t. Humans use shampoo to strip oils out of their hair to make it clean. With dogs, you want to wash off the dirt and various grimy things, but you want to keep that oil.

BEEDOO: Yes, I get that.

VET: A dog’s oily skin is its natural defense system; the oils were gone, the skin was completely unprotected, and the bacteria settled right in.

BEEDOO: Yeah, I figured that's what happened; I sort of subtexted it from that saga of Some Dogs Die, There’s No Santa Claus and By the Way Flesh-Eating Bacteria But Your Dog Will Really Be Okay, No Worries. But you can use human shampoo on dogs; my sister washes her dog with people shampoo all the time.

VET: She shouldn’t.

BEEDOO: Maybe NOT, but this never happened to her dog, is what I’m saying.

VET: Is hers the same kind of dog?

BEEDOO: No, hers is a shih-tzu.

VET: Some long-hired dogs can be washed with human shampoo. Yours shouldn’t be.

BEEDOO: I fail to see how I could have known that.

VET: You’ve never used it on her before, right?

BEEDOO: Well, NO, but not because I thought this would happen! And there’s a long list of things I have not used to wash my dog because I generally would think that they would be a bad idea,* and ‘shampoo’ was not one of them! It wasn’t a radical idea; I used shampoo! It was a lateral move! I wasn’t even pushing the limits on the definition of ‘cleanser, all “Oh damn, I don’t feel like running to the store for doggie shampoo, but I bet Borax works even better” because I love my dog and not to sound lame but I asked my mother if it would be okay before I even started and she said YES. So it’s not like I was playing it fast and loose with my dog’s safety or I even thought something like this could happen and I’ll spend all the money I have to fix it because I’m SORRY, OKAY?

VET: … Okay.

BEEDOO: (quietly) I only did it because I ran out of the oatmeal stuff.

VET: You… really shouldn’t use the oatmeal stuff either.

BEEDOO: That leaves, what? Evian? A sea salt scrub and the eternal spray of the ocean?

VET: I use a perfume-free tearless shampoo on all my pets. We sell it here, it’s cheap, and it’ll never do this to your dog.

BEEDOO: Hook me up with a few bottles.

VET: I will, but first she’ll need to be washed in antibacterial shampoo for a few weeks.

BEEDOO: Um, a few weeks.

VET: Every couple of days, wash her with the antibacterial stuff. Once you get it all lathered up, let it sit on her back for ten minutes before you rinse it off.


VET: You see what I mean?

BEEDOO: You might want to tell it to the dog; it’s really up to her whether she wants it to stay on that long.

VET: It has to. Time it, and make her stay still.

BEEDOO: Hear that, babe? This is the deal. This or skin-stapling. (dog gives me a look) I didn’t know about the shampoo, kid. I’m sorry. Work with me.

[VET TECH comes in, looks pitifully at dog]

VET TECH: Hey, girl. Oh, you look so sad.

BEEDOO: OKAY—nobody told me! I get it now! Human shampoo kills dogs!

VET TECH: Really? I wash my dog with the Dove stuff all the time.


VET: You know, you really shouldn’t—

BEEDOO: Whatever; I’ll never do it again.

*Some Things I Do Not Use to Wash My Dog, Because I Generally Think It Would Be a Bad Idea:
Dishwasher liquid
Shout! Stain Remover
Laundry soap (allergen-free)
Concentrated Dawn
A toilet brush
Cat tails
Diet Pepsi
Floor Wax
A rainstorm
Rubbing alcohol
Local swimming pool
Wire brush
Spit (and / or polish)
A loofah
Anything containing “scrubbing bubbles”
Exfoliating cream
Pipe cleaners
A natural sponge
A Swiffer
Perm solution
A moisturizing body wash
Bathwater from the other dogs
A dryer sheet
Silver polish
A nearby sump
The automatic car wash


Team-C4 said…
I just told my Mother-in-law to wash her dog in T-gel. Better call her back.....

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