Chapter 3 Summary

Right away, Opal cleans up Winn-Dixie. First she gives the dog a bath using the garden hose and baby shampoo. Winn-Dixie tolerates the bath, but he obviously does not like it—he does not wag his tail or smile the entire time. Opal dries him off and uses her hairbrush to work through Winn-Dixie’s matted fur. The dog wiggles his back, enjoying the attention.

While she cleans up the dog, Opal talks to Winn-Dixie about her family. She tells him that she has no other family besides the preacher—her mother left when she was three years old. She also tells Winn-Dixie that she does not have any friends because she had to leave them all behind when she and the preacher left Watley to come to Naomi. Opal reckons that she and Winn-Dixie are kind of like orphans. Winn-Dixie looks at Opal and behaves as if he understands her exact meaning. Opal then confesses that she has been thinking a lot about her mother since she and the preacher moved to Naomi. She knows little about her mother because the preacher does not speak of her, but she overheard the ladies gossiping at church so now she knows her father still loves her mother and hopes she will return. Opal wants to ask her father questions about her mother, but she is afraid that he will be mad at her. Winn-Dixie looks hard at Opal, and she thinks the dog is suggesting that she ask the preacher about her mother. The dog sneezes in confirmation.

When Opal is finished cleaning up Winn-Dixie, his fur shines. Of course he still has bald spots, but he smells nice and feels soft to the touch. Opal tries to brush his teeth, but any attempt causes him to sneeze in fits, so Opal settles that the dog just has yellow teeth. His ribs are still visible, but Opal promises to feed him nice meals to fatten him up.

She takes the dog to see her father, and the preacher claims that Winn-Dixie is so handsome. The dog again puts his head in the preacher’s lap, and the preacher pets him and scratches his head. Opal then tells her father that she and Winn-Dixie have had a little talk and they have decided that since Opal is ten years old, her father should tell her ten things about her mother. Winn-Dixie looks up at the preacher and nudges him with his nose. The preacher tells Opal to sit, and he consents to tell her just ten things about her mama.