I'm a scientist by training.
Not a lot of training, mind you. I got out of the lab coat game very quickly after college, because -- well, it's pretty hard, for one thing. Who wants to spend forty years curing the common cold when there's three pints of NyQuil and a bag of Ricola in the hall closet? Frankly, I never quite saw the point.
And not only that. After freshman chemistry class, they almost never let you set off explosions or light things on fire. That's how they suck you in -- and then nada. It's a periodic table-sized bait-and-switch.
Also? You have to handle chemicals on a daily basis, a single drop of which could kill you or send you into writhing searing agony. When I want that, I'll mix myself a Jagermeister and Coke, thank you very much, safety goggles crowd.
Still. I do like the scientific train of thought. Formulating hypotheses, and then designing tests to study each in turn, ideally changing just a single experimental variable to mitigate the effects of complexity, error and random chance. There's a real thrill in knowing there's a right answer out there, somewhere, and zeroing methodically in until you find it by excluding all other plausible options.
Which brings me to the dog. More specifically, to the dog's butt. And to the various substances taking turns climbing out of it.
Don't fret. I'll explain.
"Some people can light up a room with a smile. My dog knocks passing pedestrians unconscious with air biscuits."
The dog has always been a fairly disgusting creature, odorwise. It's no surprise, and hardly her fault. If your diet consisted of horsemeat and rawhide and the occasional turd, plus whatever happened to fly into your mouth while you flapped your snurfly gums down the nearest sidewalk, you'd probably smell like a Bulgarian sewer backed up with week-old borscht, too.
Some people can light up a room with a smile. My dog knocks passing pedestrians unconscious with air biscuits. Say what you like - it's a gift.
I just wish we'd kept the receipt, so we could return it.
The point is, the dog is a farter. A bona fide paint-peeling, room-clearing stinker. Always has been. But -- on the bright-if-no-less-stinky side -- she's usually been a solid pooper.
(I don't mean 'solid' as in 'damned solid job repelling the Germans, old chap, what what?' Though, truth be told, she's also been that. Any sort of poop supervisor would have no issue with her work -- neither in shape nor in plentitude. Quantity and quality -- this is a mutt who takes pride in her turdage.
But what I'm talking about here is consistency. Her poops are 'hard-boiled', for the most part. Not over-easy. Not scrambled and runny. Nice and firm. And I'm stopping with the egg analogy here, before I turn myself off omelets for the next fourteen years. Suffice it to say: 'solid pooper'.)
Sadly, this has not been true in recent weeks. Not long after we pacemakered the pooch, her pooping took a turn for the... shall we say, 'sunny side up'.
(I know. I said I'd stop. What can I say? I always strive for eggcellence in my analogies.)
Most people would simply be grossed out and sad. But not I. I was grossed out, sad, AND saw the potential for an experiment. Because something had changed. What went into the dog was the same as before. But what came out -- not so much. So something, somewhere -- probably in that fuzzy little rump of hers -- had changed. And I wanted to change it back.
Good god, did I want to change it back. Holy cow. The horror.
So we changed one variable. Instead of the solid kibbly food she'd enjoyed -- or rather, scarfed -- for a dozen years or so, we started giving the dog canned food. Little aluminum containers that purportedly held chicken or turkey or even chopped-up bits of lamb and beef -- though frankly, what I saw inside would be jealous of that hot pink slime people are so up in arms about these days. In my book "chicken" shouldn't look like tapioca pudding and mushy oatmeal had a love child. Or a hate child. Or whatever ungodly gelatinous creature was trapped in that can. But there it was. So we gave it to her.
And she ate it. Oh, yes. The dog ate the shit out of it. And somehow, miraculously, her poops turned firm.
I have no idea how this works. I didn't stay in science long enough to learn anatomy, and everything i know about the insides of dogs comes from Tom and Jerry cartoons. But just intuitively, now, you'd think solid food would lead to solid poops. And mushy food to mushy poops. But in this case, no. She wasn't back to her old pooping majesty, true -- but the beast went from unspeakable drippy nightmare to...
(Look, I'm sorry. There's just no better way to put this. But seriously -- last food-related turd reference all week. Cross my heart.)
So. Not only was the experiment a success, but it helped the patient, too. Wonderful! This is what real medicine is line, except the food in this case is a little better, and instead of an orderly emptying the bedpans, it was me with a shredded plastic bag on my hand. All was, in the grand scheme of things, well.
Or so we thought.
As it turns out, this wet food only took us so far. As the disgusting critter-from-a-can experiment rolled on, we realized that the dog was backsliding. A few days encouraging, a few days of deluge. Running smooth, then "running smooth". Wax on, wax coming out. I think you get the picture.
So we changed the variable again. This time, instead of your plain abattoir-variety pureed fowl and game, we had the vet prescribe our pooch some very special canned food, especially formulated to calm a dog's spewing sour tummy. It's from Science Diet, which seemed highly appropriate to the experiment under way.
(Though frankly, it looked just the same to me. If you've seen one set of animal parts shoved in a can, you've seen them all. And I've had Spam. So I've seen them all.)
This leg of the experiment also yielded measurable results. The poops, solid. And consistently so, over the course of several days. The messes and drips and -- my god, you think I'm not being kind, but the shit I'm not telling you about would haunt you beyond the grave; you do NOT want to test me on this -- runs are, so far, a thing of the past.
Only, there's another thing. The farting?
ONE THOUSAND TIMES WORSE.
I'm beginning to understand how this food works, precisely. Instead of drying up the dog inside or cramming her with fiber or -- heaven forbid -- actually fixing the gastro-nastestinal problem, this food makes all the 'bad poops' shrivel up and die inside her. Where the only escape is in gaseous form, every forty seconds or so, into the airspace of whatever innocent souls happen to be within a four-mile radius.
If the mutt could peel paint before, now she's stripping off primer and pulling plaster from the lathe. I haven't been able to smell straight for days -- and I know enough science to know how this shit works. A long enough exposure, and those olfactory receptors are going to freeze this way. Permanent stink bomb. Like a human centipede Dutch oven. Homina.
So the experiment, I suppose, tells us something scientifically. But with this horsemeat haze hanging heavy in the air, I'm too dazed to focus on what the hell it is. We don't have much choice left but to feed her this 'fart food', but I don't know how much more we can possibly take.
And that is not an 'experiment' I'm eager to perform. I'd sooner drink the Jager. Or eat a can of that liquefied chicken. Anything but the stench, doggie. Have a heart. Anything.