Mary Oves
Mary Oves Danny Drake

I'm a problem solver. Whether it needs batteries, a band-aid or a kiss, I can fix it. That's all part of being a mom, I guess.

But I have a problem I can't fix. I need help.

I took my dog for a run on the beach three days ago, and he disappeared for about ten minutes. I called his name, and he came running out of the marshes, a smile plastered across his doggy face.

"Mom!" he seemed to be saying. "Look at me, look at me, look what I did, are you proud?"

And then I smelled him. Fish.

Of course he was happy. He was rolling in a dead seafood buffet in the marshes, and was feeling the pull of thousands of years of ancestry, when dogs killed what they ate, and then rolled in the mutilated carcass as a last contemptuous hurrah.

I was very unhappy. My dog Mojo is the smartest, sweetest, funniest and best looking dog in the world. He smells like caramel. If there was a contest for just being an awesome dog, Mojo would win. People often show up on my lawn with their dogs, wondering if Mojo can come out to play. I once heard a total stranger on the beach calling his name.

"Oh, is your dog's name Mojo too?" I asked her.

"Oh no, everyone knows Mojo. You must be very proud."

True story. He is more popular than anyone in our family.

Ever hear of the word besotten? Look it up. Because when I say my sons are besotten with their dog Mojo, I speak the truth. Never on the earth has there been a more loved, kissed, hugged, or spoiled dog. They have a special Mojo voice that they use on his behalf, since he can't talk. It drives my husband crazy, but I love it. He can't pronounce L's. For example, if Mojo is begging for food, my sons will say,

"Mommy, can I prease have a piece of steak? I ruv steak. And can I have rots and rots of it?"

It's really cute coming from them.

This dog thinks he is one of my sons. He plays football with them, has pillow fights with them, goes up to bed with them. He is so wonderful that we often think we don't deserve him. When I bring him to soccer games, kids rush over from all parts of the complex, screaming "Mojo Mojo!" I'm not even close to kidding. He is a big, fluffy, shiny, sweet ball of black fluff.

So you can imagine my consternation when I smelled him. I uttered words I have only said three times to him in his whole life.

"Bad dog!"

Ears down, smile gone. Here he had done this amazing thing, and Mommy was berating him.

A tomato sauce bath ensued, followed by a regular bath. It didn't work.

Yesterday tomato sauce again. Nope.

Today was white vinegar. Now he smells like dead fish sautéed in vinegar.

I googled it, I called the vet, I called the dog groomers. And in the midst of all of this information seeking, I can't bring myself to go near him. He stinks. He's used to my hugs, my kisses, my scratches, my staring lovingly into his limpid pools of brown love. Now he just...stinks.

He's following me everywhere, looking for attention. I took him to the beach early this morning again, hoping the ocean water would neutralize the smell. It didn't work, but he was happy to be with Mom again, and played all of this usual tricks.

But when we're in the house, all I can summon is a "Phew. Git. You stink."

My sons have been observing this, and think I stink worse than the dog.

"Mom, don't you love Mojo anymore?"

"Of course I do," I answer. "I just can't stand the smell of him."

I'm crazy with smell. Whether it's body odor, breath, strong perfume or rotten food, I can't deal. It turns me off.

"But mom," they continue, as they hug their dog, "he didn't do it to get you mad. He was just having fun. And if you love him, you have to love all parts of him."

"I do," but even I wasn't convinced.

"If we got sprayed with a skunk, would you love us less?" they asked.

"Of course not." I didn't like the turn this conversation was taking.

"Mom. Get over it. Hug him, and kiss him, right now," they said, as they pushed him toward me.

"No, I will later," I said.

"No, NOW!"

So I did, and it made them happy.

My children make me a better person. I ruv them.