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Dogs Are Not Like Us

April 14, 2010

Don’t get me wrong: I love dogs.  As a general rule I sing their praises, even when they chew on the furniture or pee on the carpet.  Their positive qualities are numerous and well-documented: the absolute love and devotion they feel for their two-legged companions, their sublime snugglability, their silly, guffaw-inducing antics.  Dogs want desperately to be a part of our lives, and there’s just something about them that makes us (for values of “us” meaning “dog-lovers”) want to care for them.  For instance, whenever I remember that I need to spend a few minutes of my day working out (which for now consists mostly of a few sets of push-ups from time to time), Shasta thinks it’s a game, and wants to play along – which makes actually doing any push-ups more difficult than they otherwise would be.

But every once in a while, your dog just has to go and do something that indelibly reminds you that they are not like us.

Take their sense of smell, for instance.  Dogs have a phenomenal sense of smell, far superior to that of a human being.  This is a pretty well-known fact.  But have  you ever considered that a dog reacts to smell very differently from a human?  Humans are attracted to certain smells, like the smell of fresh-baked bread or the perfume of newly-bloomed flowers in spring or the smokey scent of a barbecue or the cleansing freshness of an afternoon rain.  But we’re also repulsed by certain smells, like the decay of trash and refuse and, well, dung.  (Sorry to burst those happy thoughts you had reading about the good smells.  Today’s entry is, after all, a study in contrast.)

Dogs don’t seem to think that way about smells.  They don’t seem to judge smells.  Smells are just different from one another, not always better or worse.  And some smells they seem to think are attractive are… well… not.  Case in point: my dog Shasta.

Shasta loves to find spots of ground, in the grass or dirt, that seem to have that particular eau de terre that she finds irresistable.  Then she loves to roll in it.  This is usually fine by me, because to my undiscerning human nose, she still smells like dog when she’s done and I’ve grown mostly used to that smell.

Yesterday morning, as I was letting her in from her morning backyard romp before I left for work, I immediately noticed that she must have rolled in something unusual: Clumps of brownish dirt streaked through her fur like a bad hair color job.  I took her towel to rub her down, and as I bent to over her to clean her off, I detected something else.  An odor.  An odor that was several orders of magnitude in the wrong direction.  It didn’t smell so much like her own excrement (I’ve picked up enough of her doggie doodoos to have a pretty good idea what that smells like), but it definitely had that spikey, pungent eau de toilette stench (by which I mean she smelled like crap, not perfume).

In the immortal words of Han Solo:

What an incredible smell you’ve discovered!

So Dear Wife and I put her on her leash, marched her out into the backyard, and proceeded to hose her down.  With a hose.

The poor girl was utterly humiliated.  I felt awful doing it, but what choice did we have?  I didn’t have time to give her a proper bath (I was already dressed and ready for work, remember) and she’s humiliated when she has to get those, too.  But I couldn’t simply let her have run of the house while she smelled like a septic leak.

Speaking of which, as I write this, of course, it is still the day of the incident.  Which means that when I get home yesterday from work (yesterday being the day I am writing this) my first mission will be to see if I can rediscover whatever smell it was Shasta discovered, and deal with it promptly so she cannot roll in it again.

And that, my friends, is your weekly dose of TMI.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. BT's mama permalink
    April 14, 2010 8:31 am

    Oh and how much worse the story gets….update requested!

    • April 14, 2010 8:48 am

      Indeed, I plan to write a short update a little later this morning, depending on how the morning goes.

  2. Lua permalink
    April 14, 2010 8:59 am

    I know what you mean by smells- they think everything smells interesting! I have two dogs and they have an inbuilt “lets-find-something-disgusting-to-roll-into” detector. Thank God they only weight 6-7 pounds and washing them is easy under the sink…
    Make sure to keep us updated, me & dogs are curious about your discovery 🙂

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