Nola’s nose is twitching, but not from trailing a cat

Published 1:46 pm Friday, May 14, 2010

Nola is upset over the oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Not only does it threaten the beach on which she likes to stroll, the smell some mornings makes her sneeze when we step out the door for a pre-dawn walk. The first time we smelled it and I told her what has happening, she stretched around to look at her beautiful, golden coat. She was worried that the oil would get on it from the air.

I told her I didn’t think that could happen just from the air, at least not at the distance we are from the Gulf of Mexico. I told her that if the oil washed into the Mississippi Sound and up onto her favorite beaches, she would get oil on her if she swam in the water, or rolled in the sand. She asked if that means we can’t go to the beach any more. I said that as long as the oil doesn’t come on to the beach, we can go walk on it, though the smell would be even worse down there.

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She says that on the mornings the smell is so heavy that even we mere humans can detect it, she has a hard time telling where cats and other critters have crossed the street during the night. She likes to put her nose to the ground to see what happened overnight. Sometimes, if a smell on the street is particularly interesting, she tries to trail it, dragging me along. I stop her and make her resume the usual route, usually to some grumbling about a stick-in-the-mud on the other end of the leash.

I told her that on many of the mornings when the smell is so heavy I can easily detect it, it makes my eyes water. She was very sympathetic.

Nola is most worried about the dogs that live closer to the Gulf than we do. She says she knows the smell is hurting their noses and messing up their ability to trail things.

I told her that as bad as is the oil and its smell, at least we don’t have to worry about volcanic ash. She gave me a puzzled look and asked what was I talking about.

I explained about the Iceland volcano and how ash spewing from the eruption there was messing up air travel in Europe, and to and from Europe. She wondered what was going wrong with the world, but then asked who needed to fly anyway. Nola has never flown and says she hopes she never has to. She has heard that dogs are put down in the luggage hold. Her friend Breeze has flown and that’s what Breeze told her.

I told her that our friends Mike and Pat were planning to fly to England to visit Mike’s older children who live there. Nola then became concerned for them. She loves everyone and thinks everyone loves her, and Mike and Pat do love her. They even scratch her belly when they visit us, especially Pat, which sends Nola into throes of ecstasy.

Still, she doesn’t care for flying and hopes Mike and Pat won’t be put down in the luggage hold. I told her that people don’t travel in he luggage hold and that we have no plans of taking her anywhere that we have to fly. If we don’t drive, we will take the train, I told her, but she would have to travel in the luggage car. That didn’t make her very happy either.

I reminded her that we were planning to drive to Nashville soon to visit Will Pat and Michelle and she was going with us to visit Breeze.

That made her happy. She and Breeze are best friends.

I reminded her about the flood and that Breeze and Will Pat and Michelle were moving into a new place. She said she was pleased they hadn’t been too badly affected by the flood and said she wanted to go see what damage the water had done to the town. I told her that we probably wouldn’t have any problem seeing the damage since it was so extensive. That concerned her.

Nola’s big question, though, is whether we would smell the oil in the Gulf while in Nashville. I told her I didn’t think so because that was so far away. However, I told her we had to be careful of black mold.

She asked what that was and I told her it is a particularly nasty mold that can grow following a flood or hurricane, so she should be careful about where she sticks her nose. Nola hadn’t been born when Hurricane Katrina blew through, so she isn’t familiar with the molds.

Nola then sighed deeply, something she does every time she hears some news that’s not happy. Then she yanked on the leash and tried to take me off on another run after a scent — other than the oil in the Gulf — that had caught the attention of her magnificent olfactory nerves.