KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
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