Thursday, 12 July 2012

A Shaggy Dog Story. 'The Smell Of Wet Dog'.

It is not commonly known that the well known, and frequently experienced 'wet dog' smell was invented in the early 1950's by a Mr Wilbur Smith of Manchester, an area of England commonly referred to by posh southerners as 'up north'. Mr Smith, or Wilbur to his friends. Actually I shall call him Mr Smith, as I did not know him personally. Although as he is now deceased, perhaps it won't matter how I refer to him. In that case he shall herewith be called Wilbs. Wait! That might be a familiarity too far. I tell you what. I'm going to call him Smithy. I'm sure that's what he would have been called at school by his friends.

Smithy was married to a dog lover by the name of Lillian, known affectionately by her friends and family as Lil. Although I did not know her personally, and as she too is now deceased. I shall also refer to her as Lil. I would not of course do this if I was a member of polite society. It is just not done to shorten a ladies name. However, I do not consider myself to be part of the polite society hierarchy. So Lil it is then. Anyway rumour has it that she was not a lady. But let us not go there for the moment. As you know I am a stickler for keeping to the point.

Smithy, or, oh what the heck, lets go for it, he'll never know, Wilby, always referred to his wife as, the dragon, or when feeling warmer towards her, 'her indoors'. He normally only did affection when trying to cajole Lil out of some of the housekeeping money. He did this to fund his sordid, and seemingly uncontrollable habit of drinking beer, in the local pub.

Lil unfortunately was often confined to her bed, due to an undiagnosed illness, that caused her legs to give way without warning. This sad state of affairs had only recently started. Happily, it coincided with the arrival of a new and handsome young Doctor who had set up practice locally. Lil was a regular and lucrative patient, and the young Doctor spent a good deal of his time with her, prodding and poking and manipulating her long legs into many different positions as he tried desperately, vigorously, and conscientiously to deal with her complex needs.

Wilby, Wilbs, Smithy, was , because of Lil's mysterious infirmity, now called upon more and more, to walk the dogs. A chore he detested. Not least because it kept him from his beer drinking. He began to take the dogs to the pub with him, and sorely neglected to exercise them. Lil, noticing that the dogs were gaining weight, soon cottoned on to what Wilbs was doing, when she noticed the dogs were smelling strongly of beer and cigarette smoke. Furious she threatened to stop his allowance unless he started exercising the dogs properly. Actually she had no intention of doing this. She wanted Smithy out of the house during the Doctors frequent visits. Wilby however, was oblivious to this fact, and in a state of utter depression at the thought of a life without beer money, devised a plan.

Using stagnant pond water, cow manure, and dead hedgehog, he concocted a mixture, that perfectly reproduced the pungent and unmistakable aroma of wet dog. He always kept this mixture with him, carried in a hip flask. All he had to do, was remember to splash some onto the dogs, before going home. This subterfuge worked a treat for several months, until one evening tragedy struck.

Smithy, Wilbs, Wilby, left the flask at home! Completely forgot about it. The young doctor, having just given Lil a really good seeing to and in need of a pick me up, spotted the hip flask lying on the hall table, next to the front door as he was going out. Partial to a drop of the hard stuff, he picked up the flask, quickly undid the top, and took a very long swallow of the contents.

Lil found his lifeless body a few minutes later, when she ran down stairs to make herself a cup of Bovril energy drink. The shock was too much for her, and her legs collapsed from under her. This time it was for real though. Smithy, looking through the window, saw them lying there on the hall carpet. He thought they were having sex on the floor. He had suspected there was something going on. He went back to the pub and had a few more pints!

The dogs went back to smelling of beer and cigarettes. There was no use pretending any more. But anyway. I thought you might like to know, exactly how and why, the smell of wet dog was invented.

It is still widely used all over the world. Mainly by pub going beer drinkers!


  1. Excellent account, well-researched and well-documented. Few historical secrets can withstand sound British scholarship, but I must apologetically amend, the fellow may have lived in the UK but he was born here and we called him Smitty.

  2. Thanks for clearing that up. Next on the agenda- dog rolled in dead fish scent. Chanel #5 to the canine ladies.

  3. I liked the phrase "as you know I'm a stickler for keeping to the point". This sure made me chuckle. Hope the book is going well! Thanks for visiting my blog!

  4. You stuck to the point very well, I thought. Loved the story. I shall look at the doctor with new eyes now, and wonder...

    Great reminder picture, hope it works!

  5. So that's why my husband has been taking Duke out for walks so much. I thought something was up but now I know :)

  6. I had no idea where you were going but I am glad I was along for the ride. Quite an enjoyable tale about Smithy, Wilbs, Wilby and Lil. Thank you kind sir. Have a good weekend.

  7. Good story. Did you know they manufacture deer urine so hunters can sprinkle it on themseves, to mask the human odor, during hunting season? Of course you did. I figured so. (smile)

  8. I am with Mr Shife I never have any idea where you are going but it is always fun going for the ride:) B

    Hey only a huge pond away to ship those very heavy gigantic rusty wheels how much could that cost:)

  9. Now I know, and what a great story!