The canine nose unmatched for superpowers

Each morning at 6 a.m. when I let “Dot” and “Cash” outside relieve themselves, there is that moment before they head to their respective bush latrines when their noses filter the surrounding air chemistry and (I imagine) make a mental note on their tiny brains of everything that has trotted, flown, crept, skulked, and swam by this neck of the woods within the past 12 hours.
If I’m lucky, nothing untoward is on the breeze and they will not take off like bats out of purgatory and bark their loud cries of warning that echo down the creek—noise that has been known to wake the neighbours, cheating them out of the last good moments of morning slumber on any given Sunday.
Experts say the secret to a dog’s exceptional olfactory process is a wet snout, which catches all the scent molecules in the air.
Experts also believe that in order to keep their snouts moist, dogs produce about a pint of nose mucus every day.
That explains why I can be more than two metres away from a sneezing dog and still feel like I need to douse myself in antibacterial hand soap and take a shower.
I also was curious enough to query just how much a pint was, thus comparing my jar of breakfast jam to dog nose mucus and thereby ruining the enjoyment of spreading the fruit preserves on my toast each morning.
Dot’s incredible nose is the bane of the resident red squirrel’s existence unless, of course, we count the sting of the Lone Ranger’s .22-calibre perfect shot.
But so far the rodent has remained in the lead-free zone of my birdfeeder, where on rare occasion it can enjoy a day out of the treetops if Dot isn’t around.
And I should learn to leave my kitchen window closed at bedtime to keep the bouquets of the night air from reaching the nostrils of my dogs at the darkest hour.
On one such evening, when I was without fear of the night unknown, I gave way to the dogs’ insistence to track the scent while I followed behind with my big flashlight.
I stood there shining the 15 million-candlelight on the rustling bushes as Dot and Cash jumped about barking and looking at me as if to shout, “Do you smell that?! Do you hear that?!”
I heard it all right. It was the sound of a skunk revving up its scent glands.
I think the remedy for that incident included baking soda, dish soap, water, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide—and two dogs that slept out in the porch for the rest of the week.
But groundhogs beware. If Dot is on your trail, your time on Earth is limited to the split second she smells your “rodescence,” as was the case Saturday morning when she cornered the four-footed menace behind a piece of discarded fencing.
For quite a time after it bit the dust, Dot stood tirelessly over the rodent trophy in ultimate victory. When I picked up the carcass and flung it into the creek, unbeknownst to me she skulked down to the water’s edge, swam out and waited for the thing to float by, fetched it, and brought it back up on shore, where she again stood over it until I caught sight of her an hour later.
Dot’s super sensitive snout cannot be subdued, even for the quiet times I wish to spend these days sitting in my old wicker chair reading books about inner peace and harmony.
There she appears, gingerly drawing her snout along the lawn edge where it meets the long grass and begins to bark incessantly at “the nothing.”
For a fleeting moment as I listened to her ominous tone, I envisioned a large black bear suddenly would leap out of the tall grass and swallow her up, attitude and all.
As I watched the dog have what I considered to be a rather brainless moment in which she would not advance upon the thing she smelled, I stepped forward to see what all the commotion was about.
I peered down into the unknown to see the tail of a thick, slithering garter snake slink deeper into the field grass.
After the dog had gone on to other olfactory adventures, the snake must have emerged and molted its skin, which, in turn, provided much anxiety for Dot, who came back upon the lifeless shedding only to bark at it for the rest of the afternoon.
Cash, on the other hand, did nothing more than sit on his haunches in his “Ducks Unlimited” regal position and stare out at the field across the creek—quite content just to be, his long nose twitching as he drank up the deer pheromones on the breeze.
That’s the self-controlled Cash I would like to see when I leave a roasted chicken sitting on the picnic table while I run back inside to get a carving knife.
But I don’t think he’ll get the benefit of the doubt on that one.

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