1. Make appointment with professional, licensed, experienced groomer. Allow the boyfriend to persuade you to cancel it: We can get clippers and do it ourselves.
2. Buy clippers that come with five-minute video on do-it-yourself dog clipping.
3. Watch video multiple times, as if repeated viewing will impart more than five minutes’ worth of knowledge. It looks easy. Video dog is motionless. Shorn hair magically vanishes. Woman grooming dog looks tidy. You can do this.
4. Put rubber mat on top of freezer, the only thing in your house that will put the dog at the appropriate height for clipping. The mat will keep her from slipping. Safety first! Or fourth.
5. Enlist the help of the boyfriend, who would rather be doing other things. Remind him that he’s the one who said we could do this. We. That’s first person plural, buddy. Remind him that you would have been happy to pay the groomer.
6. Strip naked because the dog has long, silky, fine spaniel hair, and you will never get it out of your clothes.
7. Locate the dog, who eyes you and tentatively wags her stubby tail. She knows you’re up to something and isn’t altogether sure she wants to participate.
8. Have the boyfriend (also naked) lift her on top of the freezer and hold her. Hope neighbors do not pop in.
9. Plug in clippers. So far, so good.
10. Per video instructions, start by clipping face and head. Well. This isn’t so—oops. There’s a big chunk of hair missing above the left ear. Your left ear. Dog regards you with contempt. She has been groomed by professionals. You’re no professional.
11. Keep going. Watch fine, silky dog hair accumulate in growing pile at your feet. It tickles as it swirls around your naked body. You start to think getting hair on your clothes would be preferable to where you’re getting it now.
12. Realize that despite your earnest attention to the five-minute video, dog has now has bald spots. Try to even them out. Make them worse.
13. New goal: Just get the hair off.
14. Spit dog hair out of mouth. Listen to boyfriend snort as he tries to blow it out of his nostrils.
15. Clip back, sides, chest, belly, feathers on legs, tail.
16. Survey your handiwork. Dog looks like she was groomed with a weed whacker, yet still manages to be adorable, which is more than you can say for yourself with your own brand-new bald spot.
17. Have still-naked boyfriend put weed-whacked dog on floor. His work here is done. We are now on our singular own for the remainder of this endeavor.
18. Clean up insane amount of hair. Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full.
19. Remove all bathmats from bathroom, turn on heater, ready the dog towels.
20. Get in shower with dog. Use shampoo you bought at high-priced salon and didn’t like. Lather, rinse, do not repeat because dog is desperate to get out of shower. WTF? She’s a water dog. But she detests a nice warm bath. A cold nasty pond or an icy mud puddle? That’s different. That’s fun. I have to agree with her. This is not fun.
21. Let more-or-less rinsed dog out of shower. Wash clumps of dog hair off of yourself. How did dog hair get way up there on the showerhead? Worse, how did it get—never mind.
22. Get out of shower. Slip on wet tile floor. Dog shakes self and again looks at you with contempt. The professionals never get naked or skid around on the floor, and she knows it.
23. Dry off and plug in the blow dryer. Blow-dry the dog, which won’t take long because there’s not much hair left on her. Turn the blow dryer on yourself. If you blow your hair forward, you can hardly see the shaved spot over your left ear.
24. Release more-or-less dry dog from the bathroom. Why does she still smell like a dog? That was expensive shampoo.
25. Clean dog hair out of bathtub and pour Drano down bathtub drain.
26. Mop bathroom floor.
27. Put dog towels in washing machine and start cycle.
28. Check on dog, who is curled up on the rug in front of the fire. She looks at you with an expression that clearly says, For God’s sake, put your clothes back on. No one needs to see you naked.