An Organizer colleague of mine recently talked about a house she was doing with distinct odoriferous qualities pertaining to pets. It made me think about all the homes I do and how often pets can strike up the band smell wise and since it’s a normal to the owners, they never know it.

More often than not clients don’t notice their pets are under foot or more precisely under my feet or are capable of smelling less than delightful. Don’t get me wrong I love animals and they love me: cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, whatever beastie has full reign and run of the place is OK with me. But many pets slumph around like bags of peptic balloons releasing clouds that grip the throat. Some are also highly strung and ear piercingly vocal. They explode suddenly, like horses released from the starting gates, at the slightest movement or shadow. Dog day afternoons are filled with the sprightly anticipation of sudden coronary arrest.

Most owners are immensely charmed and amused by their pets and love to share. Some dogs demand constant patting, hugging and approval. Many are renowned dribblers who adore playing hide and seek with your shoes, gloves, tools and anything else you momentarily put down. Not all are so playful. One client’s dog was hugely aggressive so it was muzzled a good deal of the time. It looked like a canine Hannibal Lecter, eyeing me with bad intent, probably imagining how well my butt would go with a nice Chianti. I learned to not turn my back on him. He ran loose at all times and zeroed in on making it his mission to wait until I faced the other way before generating ram speed and plowing his wrapped snout up my derriere at 20 miles an hour. It was like having a proctology exam performed by a leather tipped baseball bat.

One client’s diminutive nightmare yapped non-stop during my four hour visit, like a somersaulting department store toy. He never took a breath once. As the client needed the creature with her at all times I was ready to stick a screw driver in my head by day’s end to make it all stop. I have since taken to carrying ear plugs in my kit.

Studies have shown that while a cat’s trilling purr has a calming effect on the human body, constant or abrupt barking can have demonstrable deleterious effects on the heart and nervous system. It’s why one occasionally hears a neighbor, living in close proximity to such a torture, shouting out windows in utter despair.

Fortunately, many pets are sweet-hearts the whole time I am there and I love them to pieces. I can’t help hugging the creatures. Those pets I like to refer to as…”trained.”

Cat Box Columbo

Cats are adept right angle runners who delight in cutting crisscross patterns full scramble across my path before plunking down right in front of me, especially on stairs when I am carrying something awkward like a box full of telescopes. Some cats are the kind you can pick up, purr to and set safely aside having shared a lovely little forehead to forehead bump. With others you risk pulling back a bloodied stump. Their telltale warning mrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr starts way back in their throat like a faraway ambulance and finishes in the heartbeat just before they slice your face off.

As an aside, some clever fellow should create an alarm clock that makes that cat-being-sick-guk-guk sound. It’s amazing how it makes you jump up from a deep sleep and dizzily scramble about on all fours for the sports section before part two hurls out at you…there’s always a part two. Sometimes if you’re real lucky you even get a part three.

Too often clients don’t get around to cleaning their cat boxes. They apologize now and then for the smell. I thought one client had used black earth in his cat box and told him litter is much easier for a cat to dig into. He shyly admitted it wasn’t black earth. It had been litter, once. He had just never cleaned the box. This is where your throat kind of clinches up. I can hear it now. I told the guy the cat is a creature that doesn’t like mess, so more than likely it had found new and more convenient places to make a deposit. This seemed to surprise him. I am surprised by clients who get surprised by the obvious. So we had to play Cat Box Columbo to search out the various locations. We found several deep beneath the mounded piles of clothes, discarded computers, and the upended this and that in his apartment.

You are wondering now, at what point do you not notice your pets have been unloading in multiple locations in your home? I remember a colleague of mine, Alison, recalling an episode of “Hoarders,” where a woman had a horrible fruit fly problem and traced it to two rotting pumpkins in her living room. “How bad is it in your house,” Alison pondered, “when you don’t notice you’ve got two rotting pumpkins in your living room?” The answer is: very bad. If you love your pets, tend to their facilities – and any errant pumpkins past their prime.

Excerpt from The Domestic Archaeologist: Confessions of a Professional Home Declutterer presently in edit and hopefully soon to be released upon an unsuspecting public near you. – Stephen Ilott is the lead Professional Home Organizer and President of serving the western GTA.