Four months ago, we adopted Nala, a 2 year old English Mastiff female from Arizona Humane Society’s Sunnyslope location as we had lost our female, Boadicca on Christmas Day. Our 220 pound male, Bentley was grieving and stressed from the loss and fortunately Arizona Humane Society contacted Arizona Lab and Giant Breed Rescue (Jacque & Jeremiah), who in turn contacted our trainers at Team Canine, Brad and Tamara Jaffe. Nala came with a bit of baggage, but quickly fit into our home and never leaves Bentley’s side. Nala had huge fear/aggression issues, wasn’t well-socialized, suffered extreme separation anxiety and was definitely afraid of men. She snarled and barked at anyone who came near her initially, and at 140 pounds, we had concerns as to whether she would ever calm down. Thanks to great advice from our trainers at Team Canine and our vet, Dr. William Bracken, we’ve worked through nearly all of Nala’s issues, and as an example, I would like to share our experience yesterday in taking both of our English Mastiffs to the groomer.
Bentley and Nala’s Spa Day
Our dogs were filthy. We talked about doing it ourselves, taking them to Wag and Wash, and yesterday I just gave up and called our groomer at Paws Salon to see if she could take the beasts. She had me bring them early, as 360 pounds of Mastiffs tend to create a commotion, if not terror, with her other clients.
Got both dogs in the car via tailgate and a little boosting and pushing. Bent’ immediately climbed from the rear into the back seat and laid down. Nala sat in the center of the rear, politely watching the cars behind us from the rear window. So far, so good. Had to bring Nala’s rabies vaccination papers in for her to start
We took both dogs into the grooming area where another cat was perched atop some stacked smaller wooden cages meant for cats. Nala spied the kitty way up on top immediately and zoned in on him like our son’s bird dog, Daisy Mae on a partridge. Tracy told Nala not to jump up there or it would all fall over. Nala said, “Grrrr…”. Tracy sat on the floor and offered her hand and Nala said, “You smell a lot like Bentley…maybe you’re not a demon after all.”
In the meantime, Bentley spotted a 4’ tall bird cage on wheels near the front window…full of parakeets. “BIRDS!!!!” He started circling the bird cage and nudging it and the birds were going nuts inside. Serious wing-flapping. Tracy stood up. Nala boofed and growled a little. Tracy started looking for a muzzle to put on Nala that was big enough. No joy. (Good luck with that…) She kept picking up this and that muzzle, looking at Nala and shaking her head. In the meantime, Bentley figured out that he could push the bird cage like a stroller, and he had it about 10 feet from the window. One of the groomers walked in with a Chihuahua under her arm, set the Chihuahua on the floor and Nala made a beeline for it. Chihuahua yapping furiously and about to pop a vessel. Groomer scoops up the Chihuahua, I look back over my shoulder just in time to see the birdcage, now in the middle of the room, going over…birdseed and feathers flying through the cage. I caught it in the nick of time, but now Bentley was on a <span>mission</span>. He wanted PARAKEETS! I grabbed both leashes in a bent knee position as if I were ready to take off on water skis, holding back 360 pounds of furry curiosity. Tracy rolled the cage to safety past the gate and into the lobby, much to Bentley’s disappointment. Nala was scouting around the corners for the Chihuahua when I left. Bentley was mashing Tracy against the cat cages, drooling all over her and smacking her with his Louisville Slugger tail. Tracy was laughing like crazy (fortunately), and I quietly slipped past the gate and bird cage and out the door.
I just sat in my car for a moment, saying a prayer for Tracy and just…breathing. No calls yet, so I guess they probably duct-taped a coffee mug over Nala’s snoot for a muzzle.
All the dog blankets are in the washer and I just took 3 Tylenol and went outside and stared at a tree for a little while. I have not had to climb over a mastiff, wipe drool from my clothing or reposition the furniture from the stampede for over an hour. Bliss.
They’re home now, smelling sweet with teeth, nails, ears and coats positively spiffy…and they have bows. Here they are after their day at the spa, and Nala on Day One.
© 2011 Mary Watson