As the founder of This Dog’s Life, my love for dogs is apparent, but I hold a very special place in my heart for my dog Bentley and his terrible breath.
Every day, Bentley, my long-haired Chihuahua mix, approaches my face and provides me tons of kisses. While I appreciate Bentley’s endless affection, I have to hold my nose. His breath gives a new meaning to the term “dog breath,” and there is no escaping it. With every exhale, I get a whiff of some sort of sewage-hot garbage-Swiss cheese combination, and with every kiss, the awful, putrid scent lingers on my face.
I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Bentley is nearly 15 years old, and a lot of things have changed with him. Once, he was a puppy who would leap into a swimming pool after me, go on long hikes with me and run circles around other dogs. His spryness is now gone, and his days are spent enjoying the simpler things in life: naps, food and cuddles. He still has the heart of a puppy, but his body just can’t keep up.
The eyes on his graying face aren’t as strong as they used to be, causing him to flinch and get easily startled. His hearing has gone, too, making it nearly impossible for me to tell him what a good boy he is, and unfortunately, I am no longer greeted at the door because he doesn’t hear me come home. I miss the wag of his tail.
With Bentley’s bad arthritis, rickety limbs make everyday tasks a challenge for him. He continually misses the couch, his legs splay out while standing and going up the stairs is next to impossible. I often act as his personal transporter, scooping him up and carrying him from point A to point B.
And we recently found out he is in the beginning stages of kidney failure, a condition that is irreversible and has caused many trips outside for emergency bathroom breaks (if he can make it), a special diet and daily meds.
After we reported some of Bentley’s new, odd behaviors to our vet — staring at walls, forgetting where he is and continually pacing at night — we also believe dementia is taking over his mind.
So, if he can still remember, and has the energy, to give me smelly kisses, I am grateful for them. I’ll take one each and every day — even if I do have to hold my nose.