Bleaching the Mastiff
Written by
Elisabeth Kinsey
January 2011
Written by
Elisabeth Kinsey
January 2011
Bleaching the Mastiff: Grappling with Buddhism

What is this thing about cleaning? I ask myself in a high nasal Seinfeld twinge. My husband just flew to Maryland, a job he’ll be commuting to and from for a year and the first thing I do when I get home is grab the all purpose cleaner and a sponge and go straight to the doorway, spray some of the lemony chemical and wipe up long stringy, dried loogies on the storm door glass, all the while, thinking of what others think when they come over to see a totally marked up glass door.

You know the scenes where the bad step dad is left with the kid and the good mom goes into a coma or leaves somehow? I am the bad step dad, or bad step mom in this case, and I’ve already thought of ways I can bleach my Mastiff’s bed.

This has been a fight between me and hubby for our entire relationship. Half the time I can accept the utter spoilage and trashiness my Mastiff leaves in her wake. I go into that Buddha “non-caring” state, where all is accepted, the long streaks of shaken off loogies are a way to practice and the small circles of where the Mastiff sat on the carpet and basically wiped her hind-quarters are a way to accept the carpet as an inert “thing.”

Now, I’m getting out the bleach.

I’m going to bleach the entire house, I think to myself. And the poor Mastiff is getting a bath. I’ll be putting obstacles on the spots where she usually likes to lie on (and her butt leaks out trickles of pee) and I’ll let her sit outside on the pavement to wipe before she comes in, leaving a small circle of urine on the front stoop’s cement.

She’s a beautiful dog. Very well behaved. She’s so loyal, she likes to sniff all of our clothes when she misses us, leaving a snail trail on the newly laundered shirts or towels, toilet seat and couch cushions. Sometimes I’ve seen loogie strings on the light fixtures, up the side of the TV, and even on the dining room table.

It’s not her fault. We bought a small half side of a duplex and she grew to the size every Mastiff should grow and drinks like every Mastiff should drink, then shakes off excess, like every Mastiff. The allowable circumference for this action is supposed to be at least thirty feet in every direction. That’s why they had Mastiffs guard castles, manors and towns. Duh. You’d think when we read that description of our future dog, then promptly bought half a duplex, we’d say to ourselves, “No. A Mastiff won’t work.” But then all the doggy shows on Animal Planet promised a couch potato that doesn’t need much room or walking. Even the grooming is low.

I challenge that notion now. Living in this cramped space, I think a Chihuahua would be upkeep. A Mastiff, a disaster. That’s what we live in. A cleaning disaster. I am so busy as a full time student working full time, I can sponge down one loogie a week with disinfectant. Now that she’s shedding, I brush off entire cat’s worth of hair off her back only to unleash another cat’s worth the next day. Friends of mine have wood floors and are able to sweep their copacetic little dust bunnies into nice piles and throw them away within a ten minute timeframe. So cute and gathering in such small clusters.

Our dust bunnies are small animals that simply never grow legs. They are made up mostly of Mastiff hair and held together with, you guessed it, dog spit. Do I sound that bitter? Or am I just maxed out where I need a clean break. Can I invade someone else’s clean quarters and sleep on fresh white linens that haven’t known pet hair? Just one night? Or, I just need to take that proverbial chill pill and take my Mastiff to the Mastiff meet-up where we all (or most of us) complain about our filthy couches and how they’re not for people to sit on anymore.

I have a disturbingly sensitive sense of smell. Once, Pasha stepped in her own diarrhea and tracked it through the house. (These dogs are clods!) I couldn’t get that fetid smell from my nostrils, and I scrubbed. That day, I took her to PetSmart. They all “oohed” and “awed.” People love our super-trained Mastiff. I asked, “Can you dip her in bleach? Seriously. She smells really bad.” They laughed but they had no idea, I could tell. Even after I picked her up, I could smell her breath. If they brushed her teeth, it must have been some kind of meat and entrail toothpaste. Did I only imagine it lingering into the next day when I drove to work?

I complain to my husband, “I need a nosegay to walk around in my own house.”
Then, some creep comes to the door and I let her Cujo growl and ballistic barking (with hair high on her back) freak them out. They leave quickly and I know they’ll never be back. She looks like a gargoyle when she growls.

Okay. I look around my living room, smell the circussy, giraffe-cage smell of the zoo, and say, “Yes. I have a stinky Mastiff, but I don’t pay for a security system.”
That said. The Mastiff is a great couch potato and fierce watch dog. They don’t need lots of exercise. But you better be Buddhist or a bachelor to be able to give up said couch to filth and say goodbye to any surface in your house staying clean. Maybe the breeder had the best solution: a farm with acreage and the dogs sleeping in their own house, full of loogies.

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