Thursday, 15 May 2008

What's that smell?

Dogs smell. There’s no beating about the bush, it’s an unavoidable fact: they smell. Sometimes badly.

To an extent I already knew this from those occasions when I’d visited someone who had a dog. That ‘dog smell’: an odour which is impossible to confuse with any other smell and one which I didn’t find terribly appealing. There’s no way that I’d want my house to smell like that!

What I hadn’t appreciated is that the smell comes in a variety of flavours and that some of them really are quite lovely.

For example, every now and again Bingley takes on the aroma of roasting coffee! I’ve no idea why. Maybe it’s because he’s the same colour as a cocoa bean? But whatever the reasons, and it doesn’t matter whether I’ve been brewing coffee or not, there are times when he smells like a fresh cup of Italian dark roast. Delicious!

Of course when he first arrived he had that very distinctive puppy smell; but now when I push my nose into his fur there’s just this absolutely gorgeous smell of warm Bingley.

Gorgeous as long as he’s dry, that is. Once wet, the smell of his fur is significantly less than appealing and can make my nose wrinkle. There are sound scientific reasons to explain why we get that wet dog smell when a dog gets wet; but the bottom line is that they’re stinky when they’re damp. Bing’s no exception: he’s a poopy pooch on rainy days.

Even on dry days though, it’s easy to tell that we’ve got a dog. I can’t believe how much fur he sheds, and if I don’t vac it all up on a daily basis we can quickly begin to suffer the consequences of all that oily hair. I’ve also become accustomed to having to scrub the kitchen rug regularly: it’s a natural fibre covering and, as it turns out, it naturally absorbs the odour of a dog and can become pretty smelly, pretty quickly.

Bingley also generates a range of other unpleasant smells on a random and unpredictable basis, but usually when he’s lying asleep by my feet and always without warning. These can be bad enough to make me spill my coffee and sometimes so intense that he wakes himself up and has to leave the room. Fortunately though, these particular smells have become less frequent since we changed his diet to JWB Lamb & Veg.

A dog’s sense of smell is phenomenal. In my life BB (Before Bing) I already knew that dogs had this ability; but I had no idea about just how much they calibrate their view of the world through their nose. And Bing’s nose is amazing! When he sits down in the back yard, lifts his head back and starts sniffing, both nostrils seem to move independently as he filters through the wealth of scents that must be floating around invisible to the rest of us.

But his sense of smell is also beginning to wear me out. On-lead training involves a constant struggle with a dog who is heeling nicely one minute, and the next is off following a scent with incredible and unrestrained urgency.

To some extent I’ve learnt to anticipate these lunges and I now prepare to say a firm ah-ah as we approach lamp posts or bollards. That usually works, but we’re surrounded by invisible scent maps and Bingley’s a determined explorer. We can no longer cut across Bingley’s Field in a straight line: as soon as we step onto the grass his muzzle goes down and we’re off on a dizzying zigzag, back and forth, round and round extended sniffing session which usually leads us back to where we started.

But his sense of smell is also good fun, and getting him to find the lumps of apple or carrot which I’ve hidden in the next room is one of our regular games. I’ve also become used to all those doggy smells, even the ones that aren’t that pleasant; and even on the wettest days I’d now rather have a stinky house with a Bingley than a clean house without.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it's to do with 'waterproofing' - Barbour jackets are very pongy when they are wet and I'm sure Bingley is at the very least showerproof!


p.s. regarding fur - try sitting down in a house 'belonging' to a calico cat (even though shorthaired)wearing black jeans and see how white they become after only 5 minutes!! Although she smells very sweet which makes up for the hours of sticky tape removal that ensues.

Rob said...

I think that I'd rather like to have a calico cat (but don't tell Bing!). I'd then be able to write about The Adventures of Bingley & The Calico Cat. I'm sure that together they'd get up to plenty of mischief.

Before then though, and call me crazy by all means, I'd like another dog: another chocolate brown labrador. Two dogs seems right, somehow. Then we'd have twice the smell, twice the hair, twice the mayhem...but twice as much fun as well!

Sue said...

Hi R, J & B

Actually, you have a very good point. Everytime I bath Bonnie, she positively reekes even though I have used the proper doggy shampoo. You would think they would smell as nice as us when we have just had a soapy bath not like a soggy old carpet! Unfortunately, Bonnie has taken to rubbing herself in foxes droppings which are the pits so bathtime is getting very regular. As she hates the mere whisper of a bath, would'nt you think she would learn to stay well clear!!

Rob said...

I can't imagine Bonny smelling like a soggy old carpet! But you're certainly right about fox poo - there's nothing else quite like it.

Like Bonny, Bing's not that big on baths either! But once we start rubbing in the shampoo he gives in and adopts a very stoical position - Let's just get this over with, he seems to say. When he's wet he looks half his normal size and after it's dried his coat is beautifully soft and fluffy. For a few hours that is - it doesn't take long for that oily Labrador waterproofing to reappear.