The purging of pet urine: A hero’s quest

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While it’s a cliché, it is also important remind my readers that not all heroes wear capes.

My wife left for a vacation in Canada last Friday while I remained behind in Manchester to assure that our children—our daughter, who is home from college for the summer, and our son, who recently graduated from Memorial High School—do not throw a house party for the under 20 demographic in the city.

Before my wife left, as we were going through a particularly humid stretch, I noticed the pungent scent of pet urine emanating from the kitchen floor. A little back-story: in the past three years, to my dismay, our home has become a veritable animal farm, including the Existential Pug—who has penned a few columns for me—and three cats, two of whom moved into the house against my wishes.

So it came as no real surprise to me that the malodorous scent hijacked our kitchen. However, my lovely bride—my poor Penelope[1]—acted as if she couldn’t smell the piss-scent, essentially gas-lighting me; she acted as if ignoring the fetid stench’s existence would make it go away.

Then she left.

Little did my Penelope know that a real hero was standing beside her, waiting to take the situation by the proverbial balls and restore our home to its original, placid, pre-piss stasis.

Sure, I could have shriveled in the face of pet urine’s scent, marinating in it like a coward. But, dear reader, I did not. Like my epic-hero predecessors, I stood, brave and intrepid, and faced the monster head on.

At first, I attempted to defeat it using a mortal man’s means. When I couldn’t isolate “the pet-piss ground zero,” I slathered the kitchen floor with a solution consisting of half-parts white vinegar and water.

And allowed it to steep.

But, nay, faithful readers, the solution was not strong enough.

Upon waking the next morning and entering the kitchen for my coffee, the intractable funk, again, assaulted my olfactory senses.

“You,” I shouted at the beastly scent, “will never get the best of me!”

When I tried recruiting soldiers to fight alongside me[2], I was mocked and scorned. But I realized that often heroes travel lonely paths. So I pushed on, alone.

I then turned to Amazon. After assiduous research that matched my attention span—roughly four minutes after a Google search—I found an enzymatic cleaner developed specifically to eradicate animal smells, particularly those associated with urine.

However, it would be another insufferable day until the cleaner arrived at my door (I wasn’t fond of the idea of leaving the house to purchase it). That night, I lay in bed, reflecting in the same way that I imagine most heroes reflect: If I defeat the pet-urine stench, will Penelope return with her arms wide, embracing me as her hero? If it doesn’t work, should I just burn our house to the ground?

These questions kept me awake.

The next day, the solution arrived, and I sprayed a generous amount of the cleaner on the kitchen floor while all the cats—or should I say perpetrators—watched with bemused indifference, and The Existential Pug slept on the couch.

When I awoke the next morning…

Oh, dear readers, when I awoke, the smell of the unscented—although slightly chemical—air sent Wordsworthian surges of joy up my spine, seeping into my hero’s soul.

I had conquered the scent of pet urine and rescued my sweet Penelope, who will be gloriously returning to me on Saturday….or maybe she’ll be home Friday. Wait, did she say she was coming back Sunday morning?  I think she said she was going to text me first but…

More importantly, the kitchen doesn’t stink of piss anymore, and now I’ll figure out how to feed the kids.

[Addendum: I thought I caught a waft of pet urine in the kitchen this morning, but my daughter insists that I’m “over the top” and “insane,” claiming that no such stench exists.]


[1] I understand this isn’t a perfect allegory. But I’m trying to seem noble, which is a new look for me.

[2] Quote from my daughter: “Dad, I don’t smell anything. Have you considered taking anti-psychotics?”

About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: