My dogs have those toe pads that smell like Fritos. That warm, corny scent is, for me, cozy and reassuring in the same way my baby blanket was when I was growing up. I sometimes put my nose right against their dirty feet, pressing into the fur that sticks out between their toes, and take a big huff of it. It’s like some crazy perfume that just makes me feel happy and safe.
I was a blanket huffer as a kid. I wouldn’t let my mom wash my blanket for fear of it losing the fragrance – surely made up of saliva and sweat and dirt and food – that I had worked so long and hard to cultivate. Occasionally, when I wasn’t looking, she would swiftly ferry it away and throw it into the laundry. When it was returned to me, it would look basically the same – possibly brighter due to its lack of filth – but was unrecognizable to me due to it’s All detergent scent. That blanket – baby blue (all my siblings were boys, so I assume this might have been based on chromosomal assumptions) – was crocheted by hand by my dad’s Aunt Isabel, and I was so attached to it that it earned me the nickname Linus, though I feel it is important to note that I was not a thumbsucker.
My husband thinks my love of what might be deemed “funky” smells is gross. He’s not wrong. But there is something far outside of my control about the way it works.
Our corgi Hank AKA “Stink-Um” likes to cultivate a whole body fragrance for himself. He loves to roll in other animals’ urine and on the best days, something dead, ideally with guts squishing out and an advanced level of decay. He makes my olfactory choices seem downright lovely. But you’d have to see the self-satisfied glee on his face to understand why I have a hard time stopping him. He identifies a scent and then turns his head to the right before launching his entire body into the smell. It starts cheek-first then he smoothly rolls over onto his back and, belly skyward, proceeds to wiggle back and forth over and over, his stubby legs bouncing as he grunts like a satisfied little pig.
He looks at us with pure devastation in his brown eyes as we lift him into the bathtub, just as I did when my mom returned my blanket. When he realizes we are about to wash away all his hard work, the selections he carefully made, the souvenirs of his joyful rolling, his demeanor becomes downright downtrodden.
After a bath, he smells fluffy, whatever fluffy smells like. Nothing changes the corn nut scent of his feet though, which I would bottle as Eau d’Dog Paw. It wafts over us as we snuggle on the couch, filling the air with the fragrance of comfort.