Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What dogs see, smell, and know

A while back I talked about doing "nose work" with my dog Koda as something that is just for me and him. I was gifted the first set of classes for my birthday, but after those weekends were over I was S.O.L. Broke. I couldn't afford the next series of classes which was really too bad because Koda and I both were really enjoying the classes plus, he kicks ass at searches. "Oh, what's that? Search a vehicle for birch q-tips in 3 different places? OUTTA MY WAY!!!" -and then he half drags, half forces a run to the vehicle knowing that when he finds the odor he gets treats. The best freaking game man has ever invented! Plus, it really wears him out because it makes him use that cute noggin of his.
Anyway, Karma (I hope its Karma anyway) intervened and offered Koda and I a free 8 week series in exchange for one full day of volunteering by me at an Odor Recognition Test. I so took them up on this awesome offer. It allows us to keep going plus I'm an excellent volunteer, if I do say so myself, so it worked well all around. My days on swim team will even come in handy - I'm going to be timing the trials. Ready?? READY?? GO!!!
So, interestingly enough, about the same time that I started the classes I got the book "What dogs see, smell, and know". I'm really enjoying it. Its given me a new perspective on how Koda "see's" the world; mostly through that awesome nose of his. The book originally turned me off because its written similar to a science text (the author is in fact a scientist so it all makes sense), but once she started using some humor and examples of her own dog, Pump, I was hooked.
As much as we see things, dogs smell them. I can see an anxious face and recognize the worry and concern. Koda can smell it. Dogs have an innate ability to smell what we see. When your dog stops to smell a flower? He's not smelling a flower as you might - he's smelling to see what bugs have been there, how long the petals have been open and when they started dying.
A while back I wrote how Koda seems to just know when I don't feel good or when I've been very sad. He does because he smells the chemical changes in my body. This is his way of seeing how I feel. Pretty cool, huh?
The morale of the story is Dogs Are Awesome. You should get one if you don't already own one (or 3). And if you're looking for an interesting read on our furry friends this book is a good one.

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