FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

My dog has a nose but he still smells ter­ri­ble. He didn’t used to. I wor­ried, back when we were strong-armed into get­ting a puppy by three sets of big, plead­ing, brown eyes, that our home would end up smelling of dog. Apart from some mad, brief and ul­ti­mately doomed bursts of op­ti­mism when I was a child, we grew up with­out a dog (though ‘farms’ were cer­tainly a fea­ture of my child­hood), and so I was acutely aware of a cer­tain hum of hound in the houses of my dog- own­ing friends. Ad­mit­tedly, the bang of 76 guinea pigs in our garage was some­thing to be­hold, but at least it was con­tained to one room. In dog houses, eau du chien seemed ev­ery­where.

But the puppy was short-haired and (cru­cially) soon neutered, and while he un­doubt­edly smelt of dog if you buried your face in his coat – I have never been con­vinced by the whole dog groom­ing in­dus­try – there wasn’t re­ally enough of him to cre­ate too much of a sen­sa­tion. Later on, he cer­tainly brought home a most dis­tinc­tive aroma when he rolled in one of his com­pa­triot’s de­posits in the park, but a fist­ful of fairy liq­uid and a blast of the power hose usu­ally sorted that. So he has had his mo­ments, but up un­til fairly re­cently, his smell didn’t pre­cede him into the room.

But oh lordy, stealth is no longer in his arse­nal. I could blame his age – if he were hu­man, he would now be in his early 60s (and pre­sum­ably most put out at hav­ing to sleep on a smelly cush­ion on the floor) – but The Hus­band isn’t too far be­hind him and he smells just fine, and Mick Jag­ger is con­sid­er­ably older and ( I’m guess­ing) smells great. But The Dog re­cently sur­vived a near-death ex­pe­ri­ence with a chicken car­cass, and since then, he has, not to put too fine a point on it, been fart­ing for Ire­land. He’s not sick, the vet’s happy and the pet in­surance pre­mium has been raised ac­cord­ingly – he’s just now a par­tic­u­larly gassy dog. In fair­ness to him, there is some com­edy to his smelli­ness. When­ever he stands on his hind legs – which he does in or­der to su­per­vise food pro­duc­tion on our kitchen coun­ters – he now emits a kind of piff sound, beloved of chil­dren, teenagers – oh, who am I kid­ding – and grown women the world over. The great thing about dog farts, though, is that there is no shame as­so­ci­ated with them. So The Dog rises, piffs, and then con­tin­ues to mon­i­tor events with a deeply se­ri­ous ex­pres­sion on his face.

It’s the SBDs that nearly kill us though. Usu­ally, he de­liv­ers th­ese from a deep sleep, fre­quently with half his body (though thank­fully, not that half) draped across my lap. This was a reg­u­lar fea­ture of The Boy’s and my Christ­mas marathon Break­ing Bad Net­flix ses­sions, and some­times ac­tu­ally obliged us to pause the on screen car­nage and leave the room for a few min­utes. And on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions, the smell was so nox­ious that The Dog him­self left the room. Suf­fice to say, by sea­son five, we were con­sid­er­ing ask­ing Wal­ter White if we could bor­row a cou­ple of his masks.

So our home now of­fi­cially smells of par­tic­u­larly stinky dog. On the plus side, this re­duc­tion in our liv­ing con­di­tions has given me a chance to dust off a story from my time writ­ing for Week End­ing, BBC Ra­dio 4’s lon­grun­ning satir­i­cal sketch show. Rightly or wrongly (mostly wrongly, to be hon­est), that show prided it­self on en­cour­ag­ing sub­mis­sions from the pub­lic and it was one of th­ese hope­fuls who sub­mit­ted a script which was shown to me by the pro­ducer. Typed on a ma­chine that no longer ex­isted even then, the much pho­to­copied sin­gle sheet read: ‘My dog’s got no nose. How does he smell? Ter­ri­ble.’ Ex­cept that the writer had crossed out the word ‘my’ and writ­ten above it, in biro, the words ‘Tony Blair’s’. It didn’t make it into the show, but hon­estly, I prob­a­bly should pay that writer a fee for all the times I’ve trot­ted out his line.

Or per­haps I could just of­fer him an ex­change of joke. Be­cause I also love The Hus­band’s ver­sion of that creaky old re­li­able, and since I kind of own him, I must own at least half of this. So, drum roll please: ‘My dog’s got no Os. How does he spell? Nt gd.’ Now to me, that car­ries the aroma of laugh­ter. Though to be fair, my sense of smell has been se­ri­ously stretched lately.

The bang of 76 guinea pigs was rough, but at least it was con­tained. In dog own­ers’ houses, the eau du chien was ev­ery­where

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