The Puppy House – first of a short series

It was my very first job. I wasn’t, strictly speaking, legally of an age to work. I cleaned puppy & kitten cages, and fed reptiles and birds and fish for a single summer between elementary school and junior high. I once played in the St. Bernard-sized dog house with a friend, so I imagined that the job would be great fun.

Lysol and bleach were the key components of the watery mixture in which the fake pine would assume dominance until the bleach drydown could reassert itself. The pounding sound of steaming water foaming into the cleaning bucket, the clammy feel of Playtex yellow gloves, and the large greying mildewing sponge complete my memory of the behind the scenes prepwork.

Lysol was not a cleaning substance used in our house, so I had no previous association with it, and I do not use it in my home now. Whenever I encounter it out in the world, I see the metallic cages I used it to clean, and I hear the sound of newspapers I had to tear into strips, which were placed in the clean cage as soon as it dried. Fortunately, this memory is immediately followed up by the ink-and-newsprint smell of ripping newspaper, and then by the damp, doughy, almost-not-that-unpleasant smell of puppy-urine-soaked-strips mixed with whatever moist food didn’t make it from puppy bowl to puppy stomach. Because how can you hate anything that smells like puppies?


About Samantha

2006 - Portland, OR Samantha Soma is an erstwhile aromatherapist, collects vintage and modern perfumes, and is in love with the sense of smell. She lives in the Northwest, which means that books, coffee, wine, beer, and humidity play large roles in her personal experience.
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2 Responses to The Puppy House – first of a short series

  1. nc says:

    the last sentence … exactly. but, of course, i like wet dog smell. glad you’re back!

  2. Shannon says:

    My first job was at The Puppy House, too. I was the under-the-table and underage assistant dog groomer. Do you know how hard it is to get shampoo a chow? The later never even reaches their skin. To this day I still judge dogs by the amount of grooming they require.

    Wandering that mall was one of my favorite ways to kill time as a kid. I remember my outrage when Market Basket raised the price of candy bars from 18c to 20c. Wondering why anyone would want to eat at the seafood restaurant (I was picky). Always wanting more donuts. And of course, endless afternoons at The Puppy House, cruising the various cages and wishing I could take them all the animals home. Even though so few of those 20c feeder goldfish survived my care.

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