Next morning it was time to wash Fer. I had purchased dog shampoo, a dog brush and the largest-sized bath towel I could find on the Net Super. There was a great variety of pet food and other pet supplies available for purchase there, not surprising as the number of pet owners is increasing and many of them are willing to pamper their pets regardless of expense. This was handy for me since I could easily buy such things from the Net Super thanks to that. I hesitated looking at the plushy dog toys on offer but I decided if Fer wanted to chew on something there were plenty of S-ranked monsters around in this world.
With Sui safely tucked away in her shoulder bag I went down to where Fer was waiting for us in the inn's beast stables.
"Fer, let's go out of town again. I want to give you a bath like I said yesterday."
"Nu... you're really intending to wash me?" Fer seemed a little hesitant.
"Of course. Could it be you're scared of water?"
"W- well, that's not really true but I don't like to get wet, you see..." Okay, he was very hesitant.
"I'm not planning to drown you, just wash you so it'll be OK, I promise. Let's go." I didn't want to spend all day arguing with him like a toddler.
"Nuuuu, I give in..." I was starting to get a handle on Fer -- he'd agree to do something he found necessary but unpleasant as long as he had made it clear to everyone within earshot that he was doing it reluctantly and under duress. Now that was over with we left the beast stables and headed out of the city to the same remote area we had gone to yesterday for my own bath.
First up I had to brush out Fer's coat. I needed to do this before I washed him, remembering what a dog-owning workmate had told me once. Just washing a dog's matted hair won't clean it properly but if the coat is brushed beforehand the shampoo can get deep between the hairs and do its job. That was the theory, at least. Now to test it.
"Fer, first of all I'm going to brush out your hair to untangle it."
"W- well, okay." He seemed uneasy somehow. Then again it was probably the first time ever in the thousand years he'd been around that anyone had brushed him. I started working on Fer's hair with the dog brush I had bought from the Net Super. It was for large dogs, supposedly but Fer was extra-large so I didn't know quite if it would work. They didn't sell Fenrir brushes unfortunately.
"Ow ow-- Hey, take it a bit easier will ya?" Fer growled. The mighty Fer couldn't deal with a little discomfort? I was amazed.
"Sorry, sorry." I apologised. I brushed his coat more carefully, not pulling too hard at the places where the matted hair clogged the brush and tugged at his skin. It was a lot of hard work since his body was easily as big as a cow.
"Huff- this is working..." Fer's hair mats were starting to unravel as I persisted with the brush. It wasn't easy especially around his belly which had a lot of really thick hair mats but I finally managed to finish brushing him down properly. At the end I had a mountain of loose hair almost as tall as Fer himself... I got rid of this shed hair by digging holes with earth magic and burying it.
After the brushing I prepared to shampoo Fer's coat to clean it properly. First I took my bath out of my Item Box.
"Sui, will you wake up? I want your help for a moment." Hearing my thought Sui crawled out of her bag at once.
"What is it Aruji-?"
"Can you put some water in here please?" I indicated the bath.
"I got it-" Sui filled the bath with water and I added a small Fireball to heat it up. After stirring with my bath paddle I checked the temperature. It was maybe a little bit hot so I asked Sui to add more cold water. Some more stirring and yup, that seemed fine. It would stay at that temperature now thanks to the magical wonderful delightful bath (MY bath!). I scooped up some hot water in a bucket and poured it over Fer.
"Guuuh...." Fer shuddered and tried to back away. It seemed the mighty Fenrir didn't like getting wet after all. I kept on scooping and pouring the hot water over him but it was taking a lot of time as there was a lot of Fer to thoroughly soak down. Fer was getting more and more fidgety as it went on.
"Haven't you finished yet?" he grumbled.
"I'm getting there but wetting all of you down properly is hard work, Fer." I said pouring yet another bucket of hot water over him.
"Can't you use Sui's water magic somehow?" He wanted this over and done with, it was clear.
Oh, is that possible? Sui had Ruka-sama's blessing so she could do all sorts of water-related things and she's a Slime after all...
"Sui, can you suck up the hot water in this bath and spray it over Fer, like it was raining? You don't have to do it too hard." I added, remembering the power of her Water Cutter which had snipped off Wyvern heads like daisies in a meadow.
"Uh, I'll have a go-" Saying that Sui stretched a tentacle into the bath and sucked up hot water while stretching another tentacle from the other side of her body. Hot water spouted from that end like a hose.
"Uh, something like this?" The tip of her tentacle spread out and hot water came out like a shower from the end.
"Yes, great. As expected Sui can do it."
"Uhufufu. Sui is great-?"
"Yes, Sui is great. Can you keep doing this until I finish washing Fer?"
"Yeah, easy-" Sui confirmed. With the help of Sui's shower I got Fer's giant body thoroughly soaked. Time for the shampoo. I planned to use a shampoo for dogs I bought yesterday. Actually it was a shampoo suitable for both dogs and cats, according to the label. I chose it based on a report from a veterinarian who recommends various pet care products on the Net Super. He wrote that it is optimal for maintaining the health of the pet's skin and it can be used for puppies and kittens because it is mild. I didn't tell Fer this, of course. It had a conditioning feature like a rinse-in shampoo and the label said that after washing the hair would be soft and well-nourished. It was a bit expensive but I bought it because it promised to be good.
Following the instructions on the label I worked the shampoo into Fer's coat, starting from the neck down to his shoulders and then along his back and then back up to the neck again, against the lie of the hairs to get shampoo all the way down to his skin. I did it gently, the label said this would relax the dog being washed and encourage it to cooperate, at least that was the theory.
I added more shampoo and kept working away. "Fer, is this itchy or stinging?"
"Umu, it's OK. You can put in a bit more effort if you'd like."
Oh, I see. Fer wanted me to treat him like a dog. Right then... I washed harder, rubbing at his coat vigorously as Fer obviously wanted me to.
"Oooooh, yes, there, there... and there." I kept rubbing hard at the places Fer indicated.
"Ooooh, that's soooo nice..." Fer, didn't you say you didn't like getting wet earlier? Back, sides, belly, feet, I finally finished washing all of his body with the shampoo. Massaging the shampoo deep into his coat seemed to have mellowed him out. All that was left to wash now was his head. I wasn't sure about putting shampoo on there, I know I didn't like getting such stuff in my eyes myself so I figured I'd just use plain hot water.
"Hey, Fer, it's time to wash your face, can I spray hot water there?"
"O-, on my face? Nuhhh... Well, I can stand it. Do it quick-." Fer said, bravely closing his eyes. Fer really wasn't keen on his face getting wet, a legendary Demonic Beast that one-hitted high-ranking monsters bang! bang! was afraid of a little hot water. I mustn't laugh, I mustn't laugh... I let out a stifled laugh anyway.
"Nuuh, did you laugh at me just now?" Fer looked round at me suspiciously.
"I- I didn't laugh." I denied, trying desperately to keep a straight face. Change the subject quick. "Sui, can you spray some more hot water for me?"
"Yeah-" Sui started pumping more water from the bath. I directed the spray onto Fer's face.
"Gnuuuh-" he whined, flinching away as the gentle spray touched his face.
"Fer, hold still so I can wash your face." I chided. "Be brave."
"Guuuh-" the whining continued but courageous Fer held his head still as commanded while I thoroughly wetted his face. Finally that part was done.
"I'll rinse off the shampoo next." I said, taking the tip of Sui's tentacle and spraying fresh hot water over Fer's body, rinsing it thoroughly and leaving no bubbles. Fer's wet coat was now gleaming, clean and smooth.
"Yes, that's very good." I said, standing back to admire my work.
"Fuu-" Fer seemed glad I had stopped spraying him.
"And that's it, you're done, back washed and all." I announced.
"Huh, is it really all over?"
"I now just need to dry you off with a towel... waah, stand still-" I had picked up the extra-large bath towel just as Fer shook his body vigorously, just like a dog shaking off water after a bath.
"Uh, Fer?" I was drenched in the resulting spray.
"What? Oh, sorry." Fer said insincerely.
"You're not sorry at all, are you?" I looked down at my soaked body. "I'm completely doused thanks to you." I spat out some water that had gone in my mouth. It was my own fault though, I should have realised he would do something like that. Sometimes I forgot Fer was just a big dog, sort of. I spat again, some of Fer's loose hair from the grooming had been shaken off with the rinse water and got into my mouth. Uck. I had intended to wash Fer but I ended up getting a shower myself. Haa~.
Speaking of Fer, after shaking off most of the water he created a warm breeze and finished drying off his coat. It seemed that with Ninril-sama's blessing he could do all sorts of things with wind magic, not just use it to destroy enemies.
Fer definitely wasn't keen on getting wet but he seemed happy with the final results of his bath, saying "wow" as he looked over his clean body. His glossy smooth coat now gleamed marvelously like silver. Of course it would need to be kept that way.
"I'll need to wash you like this at least once or better still twice a month from now on, Fer." I announced.
"What? Hey, aren't you finished with all this now?" Fer grumbled but still unable to take his eyes off his clean coat.
"What are you saying? It's bad for your skin to remain dirty." I scolded him. "Besides the way you're looking at your coat, you're quite happy for it to be that way, aren't you? Well you'll have to wash it regularly to keep it looking like that."
"Well, no, I'm not really..." He was conflicted. Getting wet, nope, being clean and shiny, yep. Come on Fer, admit it...
"You look great now and you know it, a true Fenrir with a smooth silvery coat. You don't want to go back to being a scruffy-looking Fenrir, do you Fer? That's such a depressing sight."
"Well, a dirty Fenrir... Grummm-" Fer was still not sure but he was teetering...
"Well, you can only keep your coat looking like that if you wash it regularly. Don't worry, I'll help you do it properly." I played my trump card. "Hey Sui, how do you think Fer-ojichan looks right now?"
"Nnnn, Fer-ojichan's coat is beautiful and fluffy!" Sui bounced around happily.
"See, even Sui-chan agrees with me." Take that, Fer.
"Muu, it can't be helped then, I'll wash my coat, once or twice a month." Fer looked up. "But that's all. No more than that!" he declared. Yeah yeah Fer, lay down the law, tell us how it's going to be. I didn't care, it meant I wouldn't be climbing on the back of a dirt-covered Fer any more when we travelled. A thorough washing once or twice a month would be enough.