This morning our dog had to go to the groomers. Our dog is a robust beast, a Leonberger weighing more than 80 kilos, and going to the groomers is, to put it mildly, not really his favorite hobby. According to the experts, Leonbergers are friendly, calm animals. They have no problem with crowds or noise, are obedient, docile and fearless … and they let you take them wherever you want to go without any problem. The latter attribute does not really apply when it comes to taking our Balou to the dog groomers.

To the laundry

Taking Balou to the groomers is therefore a two-person job. My husband Paul and I. You can’t really do it on your own. Balou just senses when he has to go to the “laundry” (as we call it) and it takes a while before he is in the back of Paul’s big car … So I have to put my old jeans on and push Balou a little.

At the groomers, two people work on the poor dog for almost four hours, and for all that time he has to remain still. I can see why he hates it. So getting him into the car is one thing, but getting him out at the groomers is another challenge. The hound crawls all the way back against the dog guard, so I have to climb in the trunk to get at his front paws. Then we pull him forward bit by bit, and we lift Balou together out of the car. And then again he resists. Lifting him a bit, dragging him forward, lifting a bit again, dragging him forward a bit more, and then almost at the end he gives up. And the remarkable thing is that once he gets inside the groomers, he steps into the sink himself. Then he surrenders. And going back home is of course a piece of cake, he runs to the car himself.

Parallel with the Netherlands

The parallel with the situation in the Netherlands is how hard it is to move big things that do not actually want to move. Over the past few years, I have, along with others, pushed initiatives, new developments and opportunities for the Netherlands. But many executives and civil servants pull back anxiously and retreat to the dog guard of my car: they don’t want to be washed. Do I have to put my old jeans on again and pull them out of the car on my knees?