My mother's dog, Strawberry, hates me. Strawberry is a small, grumpy shih tzu. Shih tzus are not the picture of health and virility at the best of times. this one is obviously the shih tzu runt. But not runty in a cute way. Just stringy. When she's wet, she looks like a drowned rat.
Strawberry hates me.
Strawberry has always hated me. I think she thinks I'm an intruder on my mother's main activity of feeding and otherwise pampering Strawberry. I demand she pee outside in the snow. I try to prevent my children from feeding her cereal and ice cream. I do nothing but thwart her desire to eat food that's bad for her, pee on the carpet, and sit on a pillow.
Strawberry is fifteen years old. She will never die.
Or so I thought. This morning my mother called me to say that she needed help. Strawberry had been, well, emitting. From three orifices. Orifi? Anyhow, it was bad. My mother had been cleaning all night and was beside herself. She assumed that Strawberry was preparing to die. Strawberry was wandering around, stunned.
Because I am a good daughter and do not believe in cheap grace, I bundled up the children and off we went. I secreted the children in another room with my mother and set out to attack Strawberry's presents.
Did I mention this dog hates me?
I have three children. I have never smelled anything so bad in my life. Rotovirus has nothing on the smell that this dog made. And this dog made this smell in every room in the house, sometimes in several forms in every room.
I cleaned it all up. I got out the mop. I got out the bleach. I mopped up the entire house.
She wandered a drunkard's path on to the landing and threw up. Then she threw up on the bookshelf. Then she went to sleep.
It had been totally perfectly clean.
I cleaned it up again. I mopped the floors again. I took out the garbage again. Then, I took a breath.
My mother's house smelled exactly like a vet's waiting room. It was bleach-on-vomit. I hadn't identified "vet smell" before, but now I know exactly what it is. It is the smell of bleach on top of worse-than-roto-virus-doggie-puke.
Strawberry didn't die. She'd eaten some moldy carrots from a forgotten lunch, plus most of the ziploc baggy. She's still with us; or rather, with my mother. She still hates me.
I think she will live forever.
Firefly has said his first word. It's "woof."