Like so many of these stories do, the day started out just like any other day. I’d dragged myself out of bed at an ungodly hour after fruitlessly trying to find the sleep that my on-going bout of insomnia kept denying me. It was a little after five o’clock in the morning on a winter-dark Saturday. My faithful companion and best friend, Ozzy, my beloved cross-breed canine dragged his relaxed carcass off the sofa where at least he had spent a restful night. After greeting me with his customary wet lick across my stubbled chin, with a weary “huff” he laid himself lengthwise beside me as I booted-up my laptop in readiness for another day of internet activity.
While the computer whirred, squeaked and made all manner of futuristic-sounding electronic noises I boiled the kettle and produced my first mug of too-expensive instant coffee of the day, as ever topped-off with some cold water to cool it to a drinkable temperature. I changed the water in Ozzy’s water bowl, an act of kindness that was greeted with little more than a raising of his eyelids. That was okay; we had an understanding, Ozzy and me. If he didn’t make too many awkward demands of me first thing in the morning my expectations of him would be equally accommodating. It had worked well for us for more than four years so I had no concerns that it would be any different today.
Emails were replied-to and sales on Amazon and eBay put a few pennies into my desperately cash-poor bank account, which was never a bad thing. I retrieved the items that required packing in readiness for posting later. Ozzy watched my activity with what can only described as bemused interest. He had a way of looking at me at times that, if he could speak, would say something along the lines of “you humans are so weird!” I smiled at him, told him for the umpteenth time already that morning that I loved him, which made me feel better about life in general, if not him.
I became aware that something was amiss when I was about to wrap a consignment of four CDs and a couple of DVDs; a large order for me, I can tell you, which is why I remember what happened next so clearly. The smell. Oh, dear God, the smell!
I knew it wasn’t me. I’d already done my ablutions, so I was in the clear as far as guilt for the offensive stench that was permeating the atmosphere was concerned. Ozzy, however, had not yet had his morning constitutional. The noxious odours emanating from his rear end was as clear an indication that the remains of the chicken jalfrezi I’d allowed him to finish off last night were making their way through his digestive system at a rate that was not allowing for my daily routine.
It was too soon! Darkness had not yet been beaten back by the rising sun and the hands on the clock (a metaphor: I don’t have a clock with hands as it's all digital these days!) were struggling their way to six o’clock, at least an hour before our routine time of departure. However, another vile-smelling gaseous expulsion from Ozzy’s backside indicated to me that our routine would, for one day at least, require amendment.
Dropping everything, I shot to my feet, after expressing my disapproval to Ozzy of the activities his guts and arse were engaged in, which earned me a “what the hell do expect me to do about it?” glare as he sauntered out of my way. He flopped onto the sofa, his audible sigh of frustration accompanied by an audible sigh of gas from his rear end.
Things were bad, but not yet desperate. They were, though, about to get a whole lot worse. You see, if there’s one thing my dog shares with pretty-much every other dog on the planet, it is the unadulterated joy of going out to play. The problem is with my dog is that he’s smart: too damn smart at times. I never had to rattle his leash or call out ‘walkies’ to get him excited. He has a sixth-sense that sets off an alarm in his head when it senses that I am merely putting my walking boots on, the ones I keep especially for taking him out. He leapt off the sofa, tail wagging furiously, panting and dancing around like an excited puppy instead of the mature five year old beast he actually was.
The unfortunate side-effect of his excitement was that not only did he expel bodily gasses more frequently his bloody tail served to waft the offensive stench around even more effectively than normal air currents did. I was virtually engulfed in a cloud of doggy-fart stench. I gagged and heaved but managed to swallow back the mug of coffee I’d consumed less than an hour previously.
For the sake of decency (and the censors) I cannot in good conscience repeat the imprecations I uttered at Ozzy in respect of his parentage, his personal hygiene habits and the sorts of household items I would happily have inserted into his rectum to quell the assault on my senses it was producing. Suffice it to say, my threats fell on deaf and, if I am being brutally honest, unconcerned, ears. Ozzy continued to dance around me impatiently, his tail wagging like it was the most impressive trick he’d ever learned, his arse spilling health-warning grade bodily gasses into the atmosphere.
Somehow or other I managed to get my boots on and my outdoors winter jacket. I fixed Ozzy’s collar around his neck, an act of bravery I am still proud of to this day given the circumstances, then, with a greater sense of relief than I had ever previously felt, I unlocked the door to the outside and allowed Ozzy to precede me. While I secured our home against any opportunistic early morning burglar Ozzy shot off, as was his wont. In deference to the early hour and the continuing lack of natural light finding its way to my particular area of Planet Earth I’d taken the precaution of picking-up a battery-powered torch, which I flicked on and swept across the ground, its bright beam illuminating the footpath before me.
I could hear Ozzy rustling in amongst the bushes and hedgerows, sniffing and smelling the same smells and scents he’s sniffed and checked-out yesterday, and the day before and the dozens of days before that. It always puzzled me how much interest our canine friends show in the same damn thing day after day. In a human it would be akin to reading the same book over and again, or watching the same movie or listening to the same music album time after time. Strange, very strange.
At the nearby park, there was a particular spot that had, over the past few weeks, become Ozzy’s favourite toilet spot. He’d move on to a new spot in a few days’ time, just like he had when he found his current spot. That’s where I caught up with him… although it would be fair to say that my olfactory senses were already on high alert yards before my physical self arrived at the spot.
Nature had taken its course and, dear Lord, how the already dying leaves on the nearby bushes didn’t just give up the ghost and wilt away is a wonder that only serious horticultural experts should ponder. The stench was outlandish, vile, revolting, and almost unearthly. And I had to get up close and personal with whatever deposit had been left for me by my darling dog.
I am a conscientious dog owner. I clear up after my pet when he leaves a ‘little package’. I take my responsibilities in that area very seriously. On this occasion though…Walking away and not dealing with it sounded not just worthy of serious consideration, but the incredibly sensible thing to do. It wasn’t me, though so, plucking up whatever courage I had left, I prepared myself for what convention and my social conscience dictated had to be done.
I swear the little devil was laughing at me as he stood off to the side and watched me approach his deposit with all the caution one would extend to the handling of nuclear waste. I had prepared a bag, folding it over my hand and making sure that I had not left a single millimetre of exposed skin at risk of contact with the mess I reached down to pick up. I held my breath and closed my eyes, the lyrics to that old song “Love Potion #9” running through my head as my fingers folded around the soft and still-warm mess. I quickly wrapped the polythene around the pile before deftly closing the bag and treble-tying the loops to keep the residual odour from escaping before finally releasing the pent-up breath in my lungs.
I gave myself a congratulatory mental pat on the back, as though I had just averted an international disaster, for that’s what it felt like to me. A few feet away was a special receptacle for the acceptance of dog waste and it was with the utmost gratitude and pleasure that I rid myself of Ozzy’s gift to the local community. Little did the sleeping masses know from what they had been saved. Only I, God and Ozzy would know the facts. That’s how it should be. Amen to that!