Stinky Dog

Our dog Dakota came into the house stinking like a dead thing. She’d only been outdoors a few minutes for potty and in that short time she’d gotten into something so foul smelling that you could smell her from several feet away. The whole room reeked of the smell of death and all I could think of was that our dog had found a dead animal and rolled in it.

They say dogs roll on dead things to mask their own scent for when they’re hunting, that rolling on dead animals is a throwback to their wild dog ancestry. When dogs hunt animals for food it helps if the prey doesn’t smell them coming. Dakota definitely liked to roll on dead things. Even a dead bug would send her into a frenzy of orgasmic rolling.

You can see how thoroughly a dog can get covered in whatever stinky thing they find. Dakota is a house dog. She sleeps in the bedroom with us and spends most of her time indoors. Whatever she gets into outdoors she joyfully brings in to share it with us. Lovelies such as poison ivy and even the turtle she brought in one day are a few of the joys of sharing your home with an indoor dog.

The stench was horrible and poor Dakota couldn’t understand why we were avoiding her. She smelled like a dead, rotting animal and I assumed if she’d rolled on a dead animal she’d be covered with nasty germs and bacteria. In a few short minutes outdoors our dog had become a pariah dog. Untouchable.

It was too late for a real dog bath and I was pretty desperate. I gave Dakota a whore bath with a wet washcloth and a dab of rubbing alcohol on it. You just can’t have an indoor dog smelling like a rotting carcass. I don’t know how safe my method was knowing that whatever you put on a dog, they will lick it off, but whatever nasty germs might have been attached to the rotting carcass could be harmful to all of us so surely it was the lesser of two evils.

I rubbed her vigorously all over with the washcloth concentrating on her back, shoulders, flanks and scruff. Apparently I got most of it because there was just the tiniest whiff of a smell when I finished. The next morning I went in search of the dead thing in hopes of deleting it before she rolled in it again but I couldn’t find it. I found what appeared to be a stinky, rotting mushroom that looked like old dog poo but that was about it.

Phallus Impudicus Stinkhorn MushroomThe next day a thorough dog bath washed the bad smell away and Dakota was touchable again. Two days later I had a flash of inspiration as to the source of Dakota’s smell. Rotting dead bodies weren’t the only stinky things she could have rolled on. I’d been researching mushrooms for the adventure game and remembered reading about a mushroom called a Stinkhorn. I knew it was a longshot but worth a look and discovered an amazing mushroom in the process. The scientific name for one variety of Stinkhorns is Phallus Impudicus and for good reason. They emerge from the ground looking a lot like that male sexual organ. So much so that in the 1800s, Charles Darwin’s daughter Henrietta “Etty” Darwin embarked on a mission to rid the world of the immoral Stinkhorn mushroom. Unlike her father in his quest to expose evolution, Etty preferred to burn the seedier aspects of it and set out on her own version of the Stinkhorn witch hunts.

Mutinus Caninus Dog Stinkhorn MushroomAccording to her niece Gwen in a memoire called Period Piece, Aunt Etty claimed to be the inventor of a sport to eradicate a toadstool called The Stinkhorn, whose scent was so powerful that you could hunt it by smell alone. Armed with a basket and pointed stick, Etty would hunt down Stinkhorns and using her pointed stick, “poke his putrid carcase into her basket”, later burning the toadstools “in the deepest secrecy on the drawing-room fire, with the door locked; because of the morals of the maids”.

Gwen Raverat, Period Piece (New York: Ann Arbor Paperbacks,1976)

Clathrus Archeri Octopus Stinkhorn MushroomThere are several varieties of Stinkhorns including the Octopus Stinkhorn, Devil’s Fingers Stinkhorn, Chambered Stinkhorn, Stalked Lattice Stinkhorn, Columned Stinkhorn, Basket Fungus, Bamboo Fungus, Veiled Stinkhorn, Netted Stinkhorn, Common Stinkhorn and Dog Stinkhorn and one of their claims to fame is that yes, they stink. You can actually smell them from quite a distance and depending on the variety, they smell like either a pile of dog poop, raw sewage or a dead animal. The Netted or Veiled Stinkhorns are encased in a delicate, lacy net as a bride on her wedding day awaiting her groom.

Clathrus Archeri Devil's Fingers Stinkhorn MushroomStinkhorns erupt from the ground as an egg shaped mushroom and can grow several inches in a matter of hours. In the egg stage they are actually edible and some folks consider them quite a delicacy. All varieties share this innocent beginning but from that point they diversify into entities resembling starfish, octopus, sex organs, Wiffle balls or pretzels.

Lysurus Periphragmoides Stalked Lattice Stinkhorn MushroomNo matter what alien they emulate sooner or later they will do what they do best: they will STINK. These mushrooms will emit a smell so overpowering that you might think you are smelling raw sewage, dog poop or a very large dead animal. You could clear a room with a single Stinkhorn mushroom. That’s how a Stinkhorn propogates. It emits a slimy, foul-smelling substance designed to attract flies. What self deserving fly wouldn’t zero in on a dead carcass or dog poop? The flies come sniffing around, the Stinkhorn spores stick to their feet, the flies carry the spores off to multiply elsewhere. A pretty ingenious mushroom!

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