Smells Left Behind

Today I was going through our coat closet and putting things on our community  message board to try to sell.  I pulled out my old favorite Eddie Bauer parka that I have worn on and off for nearly 20 years. I wore this coat winter after winter to walk my Labrador Babe who passed to the rainbow bridge almost four years ago. I haven’t worn this coat for  few winters because it has been too small. It fits again but I decided to finally let it go.

As I placed the coat on the sofa to take a quick photo, all of a sudden 6 month old Tinkerbell leaped onto the sofa and laid down on it. I had been photographing other pieces of clothes for the last 15 minutes and she had ignored at least 30 other items of clothing. Sniffing the coat thoroughly she then started to roll around on it.

Could she smell the dogs who I walked in years past. I typically only wear my parkas for things like sledding or walking the dogs and we have not reached parka weather in her young life.

This made me think of the first Christmas after my Mom passed away. It had been almost a year since mom died, and I was using her artificial Christmas tree for the first time. I started pulling all of the boxes of Christmas decorations from my storage unit with Dutch and Babe watching and very interested in all of the contents. All of a sudden Dutch started to tremble when I opened the box with the Christmas tree. When I got to mom’s boxes of ornaments Dutch laid down and started to whimper, still shaking. He had been through many Christmases, he had been around trees and ornaments. So what was so different about these boxes?

Could he really smell my mom’s special smell one year after she died? Was his dog nose that incredibly powerful? Is that why he was trembling? Because he was sad? Because he never knew what happened to her? What happened to their life together at their house in Indiana?

I wasn’t sure of the answer, and I didn’t want to ascribe human feelings to Dutch but it sure seemed like that was the trigger to his behavior. It certainly seemed as if he could smell my mom and was thinking about her and his pain from losing her. At least I know I sure was.

I will never know for sure what the dogs are thinking when they smell things. It’s just another one of their remarkable traits that I marvel at on a daily basis, just like they do as they explore the world with those powerful noses.


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