Moving from a farm to the city has forced my dog, Moon, and me to be more social. In our apartment building there are about 50 dogs riding the elevator and passing in the halls. We navigate three walks a day through this hairy obstacle course, me with my eyes, him with his nose. They say a dog’s nose inhales information the way people read. So when I see Moon sniffing, I figure he’s perusing the books of other dogs. The sidewalk is one long bookshelf.
Our neighbor, the murderous Pug, becomes psychotic when she sees him, croaking and chomping death threats. But Moon sniffs and seems to read Nancy Drew: Mystery of the Bad Teeth. We smile and step around her. I figure his immediate pee over is Hardy Boys: Secrets of the Hunky Weimaraner.
A pack of Chihuahuas greets us with hysteria, darting and yapping in ear piercing rage. But Moon is unperturbed by their Cujo squirts. Still, they trigger an immediate mark of Weimaraner with the Dragon Tattoo. Ironically, when Bentley, the five pound Maltese growls and charges us, he terrifies all 80 lbs. of Moon, who hides behind me and tries to run from a dog the size of a chicken. I’m thinking Bentley must squirt Hound of the Baskervilles.
People leave their own litany of scents in the sidewalk smellscape. Spicy, woody, floral molecules announce Little Women and Little Men having Sex in the City, mimicking Nature in a pseudo Call of the Wild. Dryer vents Paint the Wind with artificial fragrances. Housewares shops light pine scented candles to remind us A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as we browse the fancy dishtowels. My nostrils flair at these odoriferous incursions. But Moon ignores them, blithely scribing his Fifty Shades of Grey to Lolita, the lovely Golden Doodle down the street.
I didn’t fully appreciate my Pride & Prejudiced olfactory sense until I found myself in A Tale of Two Noses. I gave my car mechanic a ride so he could hear my engine rattle, and when he got in the passenger seat, he immediately put his hand over his face. It was cold outside, but he rolled down his window anyway. I asked him if he was okay. “You can’t smell that?” he asked.
No, I couldn’t smell it. Moon and I have put 100,000 miles on my car with him curled up in his bed behind my seat. Often he’s been Where the Crawdads Sing, wet, covered with mud, leaving paw prints, drooling, smearing his goobers on the windows, shedding hair, grinding dirt into the upholstery. My car is the family crate. I gave up on cleaning it years ago.
“Hmm,” I said to the mechanic. “Must be dog cheese.” He winced and I apologized. You see, although I do have A Room of One’s Own here in the city, my nose is evidently still reading Little House on the Prairie.