The Stink Wars of 2015.
There was another yellow spot on the lawn. The neighbor had been walking his dog again. Always ticks me off. So I went looking. The darned thing always leaves more than 3 lbs of kielbasa-shaped dog crap. I knew it had to be there somewhere. It always is. The pompous bugger would never have left it on anyone else's lawn. I found it and scooped it up and dumped it in the white plastic garbage bag containing the sum total of the last three days 'puppy chow'; maybe 15 lbs.
The neighbor had a pure bred dog, part Afghan hound, part St. Bernard, and part German shepherd. The Afghan genes obviously dominated its intelligence, coloring and general shape. It got the St. Bernard’s size, 'output volume' and drool. The German shepherd showed through in ears, tail and Nazi attitude. This was one ugly dog.
Heck, this was one ugly neighbor too. His name was Hyde. We used to joke about how Dr. Jekyll was never home. Like the dog, this guy was a pure bred cross. I could see elements of Bella Lugosi, Peter Lorre, and Yul Brynner in his genes. He had a Bela Lugosi face, a Peter Lorry snivel and a Yul Brynner strut.
He loved to brag about his 'house-trained' dog. Heck yeah, house trained is right! He had trained the dog to go to my house. He would open the door. The dog would sniff the air, come out the door, take the steps 2 at a time, bound across the lawn, jump the hedge with about 2 ft to spare, and do an inspection tour of my lawn before it chose a spot to leave its mark on the earth. To add insult to injury the dog would turn its back on the pile and kick up clods of my fresh mowed sod with his back feet in a useless attempt to cover his tracks.
My lawn was in serious need of saving.
I decided defensive tactics were in order. My brother-in-law is a know-it-all. Just ask my mother-in-law or my wife. He knows everything. He said just throw the dog crap back on the neighbors own lawn. I tried that. I found a key scratch all down the side of my new Volvo the next morning. I kinda knew what that message was saying. It spelled out "Don’t mess with me." in nice big scratchy letters. I was mad and in a mood to be much more destructive but my natural cowardice took precedence, for now.
My brother-in-law was enraged. He figured I should walk up to the neighbor’s door, ring his doorbell, and punch his lights out. I thought it was a great idea but since I was going to be away that day I asked my brother-in-law if he would do it for me. He didn’t even pause when he said "Maybe it’s not such a great idea." My mother-in-law agreed with him. She had agreed with him when he first suggested the 'punch his lights out' approach too. My brother-in-law then suggested 'pepper'. Okay, that sounded better than the 'lights out' scheme. So the very next day I bought 3 large (the giant lifetime supply type) cans of Malkin's Black Pepper. Somehow I didn’t think bell peppers or even Jalapenos would do.) (Did you know that during the middle ages black pepper was more valuable than gold? Now too!!) I spread it all over the lawn, side to side and corner to corner... I spread it thick. I’m sure it would have worked if that freak 'sneezing' wind hadn't come up soon after. .. People complained about it for months. How every resident of every house for 2 blocks down the street erupted in fits of uncontrollable sneezing. Cats ran away. And didn’t come back. The fat lady next door had to be hospitalized, but she lost 20 pounds in a week long sneezing fit. Two older gentlemen also had to be hospitalized after a fight that broke out when one of them sneezed the poker pot off the table. When I heard some of the serious complaints people had about the mysterious storm, I didn’t have the heart to complain about my measly loss of 3 Kg. of black pepper.
Then one day when my brother in law and I were out watching the kids play soccer he brought out a grocery bag and we lazed back in our lawn chairs with two kinds of cheese, some pepperoni and some crackers. It was a great impromptu lunch. The real thing he gave me that afternoon however, was later at home. When we got back to the house with our respective sons, soccer sweat and muddy boots, he complained to my wife, (his sister), that he had eaten enough cheese to wreck 3 years worth of Metamucil. The light in the attic suddenly shone bright. I had an idea. Cheese worked like a plug. I know exactly where a plug like that could be useful. That night I bought 3 kilos of mild Cheddar.
The dog didn’t like cheddar. It ignored the cheddar.
This was strange for me. I remembered when I was a kid, my dog, loved cheese. My Norwegian relatives sent us some Norwegian “Gamel Ost” one year. (“Gamel Ost” translates rather innocently to 'Old Cheese') This translation doesn’t carry with it the mortal fear children in Norway have for this dark brown cheese with the strong odor and bite like a rabid snake. We have boogey men. They have “Gamel Ost”. When the parcel delivery guy arrived with a package from my mothers Norwegian cousins, my dog barked and wagged its tail with obvious excitement. And the package had been triple wrapped in cellophane and sprayed with 'Evening in Paris' eau de toilette. As we unwrapped it layer by layer, the poor mongrel Border collie had gotten increasingly wild. When we opened the top of the box we got the full force of a smell enhanced by a month-long unrefrigerated trip across the North Atlantic. The sweet concentrated odor of sweat socks and sewer treatment plants wafted past our nostrils summoning tears of sentimental joy. My father said "What the Hell… "(He never swore.) And tossed the whole package including two beautiful Norwegian Sweaters as far as he could out the back door toward the alley. The dog was in full stride when it went between his legs and jumped a full 10 feet from the back steps. The cardboard packaging was ripped to shreds by the time I got to the door to watch. “Lady” was rolling deliciously in the brown and green ‘eau de Toilette de Chien” (translate that ‘Canine Evening in Paris’). That was the year the Skunks fled the town and the porcupines all lost their quills. Since that week (that seemed like a year) I have known that dogs love cheese. And the greater the smell the greater the desire. But I digress. Suffice it to say, I needed more smell.
The next day I went to the German Grocery Store. I had seen Special Scandinavian cheeses there once before. I was in luck they still had the same package of “Gamel Ost”. (I remember the date was from 3 years previous to the first visit.)... .. This “Gamle Ost” was OLD!! … And it still had its special sale price. . Much cheaper than the pepper. But it was only about 500 grams. I needed more. I decided I would have to mix it with the cheddar. So I went to the army surplus store for a gas mask.
Two trial asphyxiations and three baths in salt water later, the mixed cheese casserole (the added oatmeal was the piece of resistance) was done. It was on the newly fenced off lawn. The paint was blistering on that side of the house when the neighbor let his dog out. In a split second it was rolling in the cheese. In spite of the wider spread of the smell, the blistering paint and the pack of hungry dogs coming up the street, I smiled. I watched when the greedy monstrosity gulped down all 5 and a half kilos of thick “eau de Paris” soufflé.
We didn’t get much sleep that night. Cause the dog spent the night in the neighbor's back yard howling its head off. I got up and marinated two kilo of ground beef in Castor oil! I also added all four bottles of Cod Liver Oil capsules collected by my Norwegian mother in Walmart’s big anniversary ‘vitamin – price blow out’ .. 5 years ago. I let the whole slimy mess ‘age’ for 5 or 10 minutes. It was about 6 AM when I tossed the very oily raw hamburger over the back fence. The dog quieted down for a bit. About an hour later I heard the neighbor swearing up a storm as he entered the back yard sporting a snazzy new gas mask. (More expensive than the one I bought) He used his electric hair clippers to shear the beast before using plenty of soap and water to excise the dog perfume. I was surprised how quietly the dog stood. I watch quietly well behind the screen door on my side of the back fence. The pleasant smell of talcum powder and Lifebuoy soap mixed with the smell of burning hair and roasting cheese exuded an ambivalent ambiance. After vomiting 3 times, I sealed the back door and nailed it shut. I watched from the side window, waiting for the inevitable.
My waiting was in vain. The man didn’t complain about any dog crap so I assumed that the cheese was not going to surrender to the hamburger easily. .. Nothing had happened. Finally after the sun had been up long enough to dry the dog off, Hyde let the moaning dog into the house. I could see that he had sheered the dog like a sheep. … It was moving a bit more sluggishly but Hyde gave no complaints. So, obviously, the dog smelled better and hadn't changed the atmosphere… yet.
Pondering the uneventful clean up process, I was suddenly STRUCK WITH TERROR!!!! Any minute now that dog was going to scratch at the front door to be let out to do its thing, IN MY FRONT YARD!!!! .. Crap and double crap. What could I do?
I panicked. We were all going to die! I only had one gas mask. We had to move fast. I mean really move! Pack up our belongings. Armageddon was here. It was time for the Exodus. A smell worse than fire and brimstone with sulfur flavoring would soon permeate the yard. No one would buy our house. Visions of Chernobyl!
The need to defend my castle came next. How could I meet the invader at the hedgerow? Where were my Tiger Tanks? Did we have any bear spray left over from holidays? Maybe I could hold off the beast. A sword. A cross bow? Anything??? And then it came to me. Pepper. Maybe it would work after all. .. I raced to the kitchen… and raided the spice cupboard until I found a small half full spice bottle of black pepper bottle. It would have to do. I was at war.
I raced from the house and bounded over the intervening hedge. .. Almost tripping as I caught my foot on the branches, I landed on one foot and kept going as I stooped running under his picture window to his front step. I quickly dumped the half bottle of black pepper in a pile on the ‘Welcome’ mat. I turned and headed for the hedge, stooping under the picture window and doing a swan dive over the top. Somersaulting to my feet and looking for my garden shovel to fend the beast off.
The shovel was by the flower bed beside the house. I scurried back just in time to hear the neighbors front door opening. I braced for the onslaught. The dog or I would be dead! Looking through a small gap in the hedge I watched as the dog stuck its head out the door. It stopped and sniffed. It then lowered its head and got a good whiff of the strange material it smelled. And it sneezed. And did it sneeze!!!! It backed into the house in panic. ..The screen door slammed shut but the inside door was still open as I heard it heave and belch in great lung crushing sneezes. Gut squeezing sneezes. Sphincter loosening sneezes. Great brown pneumatic shooting sneezes. I heard chaos. Hyde was swearing. I heard a dog yelping between sneezes as it ran over, behind, and under furniture to avoid its angry master. I heard a continued sneezing combined with the crashing sound as furniture seemed to come alive it a mad dash to get out of the way. A lamp crashed. Through the window I saw Hyde slip and fall. Visions of Chernobyl reentered my head! I smiled.
Hyde moved out. I heard the dog was given to a Newfoundland Elk Rancher. His house was up for sale for over 6 months but it finally sold. The new neighbor was an opportunist who bought it as a fixer upper to be flipped. He did major renovations to get rid of the ambiance of the former resident. He finally sold for a loss when the market fell. The older couple who finally got the house more than a year later, are great neighbors. They have two yappy little Maltese dogs and a kitty litter box.