This is my dog Missy. Cute.
This is her nose. It gets stuck in a lot of unsavory places.
Missy loves to smell and smell and smell. Snorting around and pawing at the dirt to get more of the stink up. The stinkier the better. Feces, dead things, pee. Ya’ gotta keep an eye on her and gage her movements when she’s sniffin’. What will she do? Will she just sniff it? Pee on it? Eat it? Roll in it? All of the above? Maybe a combo. What is she seeking with all this sniffing?
Dogs have nearly 44 times more scent cells than humans. Missy often carefully smells where she peed previously. I think perhaps she is looking for information regarding her health. Dogs can be trained to sniff out evidence of prostate cancer in human urine. So maybe this.
Also definitely sniffing out some chow. That’s usually the first thing.
Dogs can also smell fear apparently. I guess they are scoping this out.
And probably a good time. Dogs like to have a good time.
My last dog, Dodger, did not like most dogs. She had ‘little dog complex’ and started a lot of fights. But she did, however, fall tail over paws in love with Shadoobee, a big handsome gentlemen pooch. Her ONLY love, and when she was a middle aged dog at that. The first time she saw him she was already in love with him. Jumping around and yipping in a most embarrassing fashion, like a teen girl at Beetles concert. I think she had fallen in love with him via his pee scent BEFORE even meeting him. Shadoobee’s human mom said he had this affect on all the ladies.
Back to Missy, sometimes it’s annoying to stop every couple of feet so she can sniff some peemail. But, mostly I like to indulge her in her occupation. The perfumer in me gets it. Sniffing is satisfying. However, her preference in scent I don’t really get.
Smellin’ butts for one thing. Just not into it.
Although… wait… maybe… In the world of perfumery one the definable notes in scent is fecal. That’s right. Perfumers have a vast vocabulary of identifying aromas and one of them is fecal. The scent of certain flowers has this fecal quality. Yes, it is true. Jasmine, for example. And I LOVE jasmine. Jasmine’s scent is a heady, narcotic, seductive, mix of floral and, yes, doo-doo. The resulting combination is raw, beautiful, and dirty-sexy!
The esteemed natural perfumer and olfaction and flavor writer Mandy Aftel of Afetelier talks up jasmine far more poetically than me:
“Rich and warm, heavy and fruity, intensely floral, jasmine is almost narcotic in its ability to seize the senses and imagination. Yet powerful as it is, jasmine refreshes rather than oppresses, possessing antidepressant as well as aphrodisiacal properties.
It is the intensely narcotic aura that strikes you most, though, inducing a sense of receptivity and surrender, almost of being ravished. The feeling of intoxication derives from the fecal undertone that is the source of the yin-yang appeal of some of the most coveted perfumes. The magic ingredient is indole, a major element in jasmine, as well as tuberose and orange flower, that is also found in human feces. This odor of indole, reminiscent of decay, lends jasmine the putrid-sweet, sultry-intoxicating nuance that makes jasmine essences the same delicate aphrodisiac today as they were in the past.”
Ah, thanks for putting it just so, Mandy. (By the way, this essay, Perfumed Obsession, was first published in the literary magazine, Tin House and can also be found in the fascinating book of essays about smell entitled The Smell Culture Reader edited by Jim Drobnick.)
So, if I love jasmine, maybe I do share Missy’s obsession? Hmmmm. I think not enough to do the circle dance. In theory then.
And I just tried to get Missy to smell my bottle of precious natural jasmine concrete, and she turned her head with an injured look as if to say “Are you trying to poison me?” This, from a dog who once found a pair of soiled underwear in the park, smelled them, and then immediately picked them up in her mouth, and ran willy-nilly with wild, gleeful abandon. Icky, right?
Smell is a very personal thing.
Got any good dog sniffing stories?