Unlike the emperors of ancient Rome, dogs possess an infamous and profound aversion to having baths. Consequently it's no surprise that their species remain domestic pets rather than the engineers of eternal cities. The Baths of Caracalla, for example, the magnificent ruins of which are still visible today, just a short walk from the Colosseum, offer nothing of interest to dogs other than a convenient area for evacuating their bowels and barking at tourists. Yet these old stones were inspirational for the builders of Pennsylvania Station in New York City and for my own Composition in Matchsticks Number Four. Perhaps a clever dog with a healthy interest in personal hygiene rather than an obsession with the unpleasant odors emanating for others dogs might produce equally impressive architectural and artistic wonders? Alas, I doubt we shall ever know.
Like the Cumaean sybil of ancient Rome, however, dogs often exhibit evidence of a prophetic gift, and seem to know in advance when their owners are conspiring to give them a bath. It is strange that beasts equipped with such supernatural powers - dogs can also allegedly see ghosts - cannot grasp a simple concept of everyday human life; namely, if man is destined to have a proverbial best friend, then man doesn't really want a smelly one. Or perhaps, bearing their supernatural cognition in mind, perhaps dogs know something we don't?
Fur balls, scattered hairs, muddy paw prints, drool stains and mysterious stenches: these are the noxious hallmarks of an unwashed dog, that Barbarian at the gate, under the bed, on the couch, in the bed and many other places it shouldn't be.
The only solution, after lengthy but ultimately fruitless appeals to a stubborn snout, after invoking the example of bath lovers such as Augustus and Hadrian, after attempting telepathic communication with the dog's latent sense of empathy with its master's wishes, is sheer brute force. You just have to drag the damn dog into the bath tub and hose it down.