October 28th, 2006

International Kittens of Mystery

The Dog, The Mother and The Dead Whale

Rank smells - the ranker the better - would drive our dog Zaphod nuts. He'd seek them out and roll in them. Grinding the noxious source into his fur by repeated dives, rolls and shoulder slides. No amount of calling could drag him off. And a bath would have to follow - with much scrubbing, rubber gloves, and Hasmat clothing.

One incident stands out above all others. The incident with the dead whale. We'd taken my mother to Saunton Sands for the day. A nice day out, we thought. A stroll along the beach followed by fish and chips at the nearby inn.

Then Zaphod found the dead whale. The rotting-for-several-days putrid dead whale. And what a lot of noxious source there was there. He'd rushed off into the distance and found a black speck on the edge of the sand dunes. No one thought any more about it. Until we walked closer and the smell hit us.

Our dog was in the belly of a whale. And the belly of a whale was all over our dog.

Noooooooo! Leave, boy! Come here!

As he'd had a good five minutes rolling in the whale, he decided that that was one command even he could obey. Of a sort. The beach was empty for miles except for us, Zaphod, the whale ... and my mother - who, standing in her Sunday best some fifty yards further down the beach and not being a dog person...

Was the obvious person for Zaphod to run towards.

Time - as it does during emergencies - stretched. Noooooo! We shouted at Zaphod. We shouted at my mother. Don't touch him! Keep away! But she turned towards us, furrowed her brow and mouthed that bemused question that all dog owners ask themselves several times a day, "why?"

"Because he stinks and he'll jump up at you and get all that gink on your clothes and...

Time, which hitherto had been happy to slow down and let us savour the approaching doom in all its whale-encrusted splendour, decided to speed up before we could complete the sentence. Dog and mother came into close proximity. There was an exchange of gifts. A pat on the head for one, globules of putrid whale blubber for the other. Screams rent the air.

Seawater is not enough to remove whale smell from clothes. Trust me. Even after several scrub and rinse cycles in the ocean a lingering fragrance remains. And a locked car is no place to leave a ripe dog for an hour while you go and eat. Even if he's been repeatedly dunked in the ocean.

But there is one advantage of having whale blubber on your clothes - finding a seat in a packed pub is not a problem.

There are few others.

We drove home with all the windows down and a smiling dog beaming from the back seat of the car. A car trip, a run on the beach and a dead whale. It doesn't get better than that.