Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Title 1


I am very sensitive to the way things smell. I recently listened to a story about the background and research behind a book titled, "A Season to Taste," about a woman who sustained an injury to the back of her head and, as a result, lost her sense of smell. Turns out, our sense of smell, while not necessary to sustain life or safely negotiate our way through the world, does connect up with our other senses as an enhancer. It is tied to our sense of taste, our tongues being rather blunt instruments. It is connected to the emotional centers in our brains, so that the smell of freshly cut grass can conjure up the elation of Summer days, or the smell of the particular combination of Ivory dish soap and bleach can bring back the memory of a grandmother. 

I also recently read a book about the psycho-physiology of dogs, "Inside of a Dog," which explored, among other things, the olfactory experience of dogs. Although it is widely known that dogs have a keen sense of smell, it turns out that their sense of smell is in fact so pronounced, so nuanced, they may in fact be able to "smell fear," or at least detect the hormones and phermones our bodies unwittingly emanate when experiencing emotions of any sort. In an evolutionary sense, the human olfactory experience is an amoeba compared to that of dogs. 

It would stand to reason then, that dogs would not find it necessary to ensconce themselves in the odor of smells they locate in the woods, right? Wrong. Especially wrong if you are our girl, Sophie. 

In a nutshell: Sophie stinks. She stinks within 48 hours of bathtime, and not always because of something she appears to have "rolled in", although that particular behavior contributes greatly to her overall boquet. She just has a peculiar odor. After her most recent bath, when two days later I began to detect the smell, I turned to K and asked, "do you know what she smells like?" K, even with her muted sense of smell, observed that Sophie did indeed have an odor reiminiscent of something. After some contemplation, we agreed wholeheartedly: Sophie smells like the inside of a vacuum cleaner bag. 

Stop. Think about it. You know this smell. 

The inside-of-a-vacuum-cleaner-bag smell lingers until Sophie finds something more odiferous in which to roll. Then for a few days, she smells like dead something, or unspecified livestock poo, or fish heads. After repeated bathings, I have come to the conclusion that the smell is not necessarily externally applied. My conclusion may be heavily influenced by the additional fact that Sophie routinely and robustly breaks wind. She is the stinkinest dog I have ever met. Like "Walter the Farting Dog" on steroids. 

On the upside, thanks to all the bathing, brushing and wiping dow that has taken place in looking for the smell-source, her coat is a gleaming, glistening black where once it was a dull, sun-baked brown, she is unperturbed by the smell she emanates, and she doesn't mind the new barrage of nicknames: Flower, Pig Pen, Stinky McStinksalot, PU. . . and I am given another reason for dramatic exclamations that remain safely on the downside of hyperbole. 

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