Peewee was smelling a little funny, even after a nice bath with the flowery dog shampoo. Dogs always smell kind of doggy, but over the weekend his hindquarters started to smell like a window box full of recently fertilized geraniums.
I'm going to get a lot more specific than that in the following paragraphs, so if you don't relish the thought of a story about my dog's butt, here's a link to Amy Winehouse's latest hairdo.
We sort of knew that Peewee's adorable little corkscrew tail was a potential source of something or other -- toxoplasmosis? Colony Collapse Disorder? It certainly likes to hang onto a souvenir portion of the delightful organic material regularly squeezed out just beneath it. So when he started rubbing his butt against the carpet and yapping, and I smooshed a cool baby wipe beneath his tail and it came back with a small smear of blood on it, Jack and I gave each other that "Uh-oh" look and I made an appointment with the vet.
Our vet loves Peewee. She frequently kisses him throughout his exams, and that day was no different, despite the odor of rotting daffodils emanating from his hindquarters.
"Oh, he's got a hot spot," she said sadly. She pulled Peewee's tail gently to the side so that I could see his inflamed patch of extra-anal epidermis. Then she sighed. "I'm going to have to shave it."
When I think of all the jobs in the world that I have ever had and ever will complain about, I will from this day forward remind myself that, Yes, this may be boring/thankless/a pain in the ass, but at least I'm not shaving a baby bulldog's butthole.
In less than 24 hours he was back to his old self; some mild antibiotics and me swishing baby wipes around the affected area twice a day and we had our boy back.
"Baby wipes probably won't be a long-term solution, though," said the vet. "You may be doing this for a very long time, as a preventive, so you'll need these medicated wipes. Here, I'll write down the name."
"Does that say Malaseb Pledgets?" I said, fearing that both doctors and vets have a dangerous disregard for penmanship. "It sounds like a box of cereal from another planet."
It took me another minute, driving away in the car, to realize what the name really reminded me of:
Roz Chast, if your career in cartooning ever dries up, the veterinary skin remedy naming industry could use a talent like yours.