Puppy Breath

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 8:36 AM | 9 comments »

Ever since I can remember, I have loved dogs.

Growing up in Trinidad is hard if you love dogs because there are so many strays.

We moved to a new neighborhood when I was seven, one which allowed us to walk to school. Since my parents had started their own business by then, and were super busy, it was convenient for them not to bother about transportation to and from school. Remember, this was eons ago - the safe sixties. After the first week of me and my two (although I have three) brothers walking to school, we had accumulated, one stray cocker spaniel, a tiger tabby (second brother loved cats), and a strangely speckled mutt missing one ear.

The following week, my parents, with stern warnings about diseases and stray animals, assumed all school transportation responsibility.

The strays, unfortunately, did not survive, and I grew so disconsolate, my father begged a purebred for me, my first puppy, who I named Timmy. Okay, I know lame name, but in Trinidad you read English books, and I was in the thrall of an Enid Blyton series about 5 companions who solved mysteries, and one of them, you guessed it, had a dog named Timmy. Two years later, the next door neigbors poisoned Timmy.

Nine at the time, and unconsolable, my doting father, when I refused the offer of another dog - who could replace my boon companion? - decided different would make me feel better, and he obtained a pair of Pom-toys, Bobby and Bonita. They were so cute, so adorable. I carried them in my pockets and they grew to maybe 6 inches in height. Before we knew it, Bonita was pregnant.

She sat on my lap to give birth. A holy experience.

Bobby and Bonita and their family slept in my room. What joy that was! To see their puppies' eyes open - why does God do that do you think, sealing them shut for 9 days? I'm sure some vet out there has the answer to that question.

Smelling their puppy breath occupied me for hours. I'd let them crawl all over me, try to suckle my fingers. Childhood heaven (although I'd do it today in a heartbeat if I had the chance).

It's akin to the breath of a newborn who's nursed solely on breast milk. Or that back of the neck scent from a baby. What is it about the aroma of innocence that so intoxicates us?

Chime in,

Jianne Carlo


  1. Beth Trissel // September 18, 2008 at 11:35 AM  

    I love this story! And share your deep appreciation of dogs. I love kitties too. One of my favorite scents is that puppy smell you so aptly described. Thanks for a lovely pick me up!

  2. Anonymous // September 18, 2008 at 3:01 PM  

    Wonderful story. (Horrible neighbors, however) I love puppy breath (and like Beth, kitten breath)

    I love the concept that it's the aroma of innocence. To me, it's sweet, like a breath of life.

    Thanks for stimulating my olfactory memories.

  3. Mary Marvella // September 18, 2008 at 5:08 PM  

    Awwww, so sweet! My family had dogs and I adored them, especially as puppies.

    I loved being granny to my daughter's two dogs when they were new, barely old enough to leave their mama. They are brothers separated by a litter and the big brother took over the training of the baby.

    Takes me back.

  4. Beth Trissel // September 18, 2008 at 5:52 PM  

    So true, ladies. And I forgot to comment on the horrible neighbors.

  5. Georgia Woods // September 18, 2008 at 7:48 PM  

    Jianne, agreed - puppy breath and new baby are smells that we always remember as being the scents of innocence, of new life, of starting fresh, of sweetness and unconditional love. How can anyone not love those things? And as for the neighbors, wow...horrible people.


  6. Anonymous // September 18, 2008 at 7:57 PM  

    Wonderful story, so sad about your first pet. Love that you got a pair of poms. We have one and she is our baby! Actually she belongs to my daughter, so I'm her Nana!She likes to play soccer and be hand fed table scraps.

    The Scarlet Pumpernickel

  7. Mary Ricksen // September 18, 2008 at 7:59 PM  

    I think it's the smell of a baby. I read somewhere that nature does that because humans are really the only species who do not have a mothering instinct. True, honest. They have to bond with their young.
    Now my dog, I don't know why, he has the freshest breath. Good teeth I think, and it's a sign of health. Poodles do not have enamel on their teeth and almost always have bad breath because tarter and bad gums.
    If I'm not wrong, the puppies and kittens still have some growth and development to be done on the corneas of their eyes. They open when developed.
    I think all new life has that smell, nature makes our instincts to protect and love, take over when we inhale it's aroma. And for most species it's the same.

  8. Mary Marvella // September 18, 2008 at 9:24 PM  

    I didn't know that, Mary R

  9. Nightingale // September 19, 2008 at 2:05 PM  

    Great post. I wish I had a big Bull Mastiff pup. My son has one and he's very gentle.

    Baby kitten and baby horse breath smells pretty good too! I raised horses for many years.