Tuesday, 23 November 2010


This is an addendum -which I almost called The Smell Of Death-  to the previous post.

When I called in at Animal Krackers shop to tell Susan and Andrea about what happened to the cat at Vet's Now (the PDSA's emergency vet service at Heworth), they had the little jack russell I'd picked up last week. As is my wont on seeing a dog, I bent to pet it and it backed away. It kept on doing this every time I approached it. I didn't terrify the dog; it showed no aggression towards me, it just didn't want anything to do with me.

Susan said, "It smells death on you."

I dismissed this immediately. Death doesn't have a smell and animals have no sense of their own mortality. Death is not something positive that exists in its own right, rather it's an absence. Of course the dog couldn't smell death on me, it was just a daft dog.

Then, yesterday morning while swimming, I began to wonder. Dogs do have an acute sense of smell and what it certainly, well probably, could smell were tiny flecks of the cat's blood on my hands, the remains of the smell of the sick cat's breath on them, a few molecules of various chemicals that would be in the surgery air, possibly even the those of the liquid which stilled the cat's heart. It could smell odours on me that were clearly, to the dog, wrong and that would be enough to make it wary of me.

I still don't think Susan was right, but she wasn't wrong either.

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