No, I mean to be able to smell as well as a dog? It was a rainy day yesterday and I was watching Freckle and Ceilidh curled up asleep in Freckle’s bed. Freckle was dreaming and her nose was doing a wild two-step. Obviously something in her dream was really smelly.
According to veterinarian and author, Bruce Fogle, humans have only about 65 square inches of nasal membrane—what you need to enjoy smelling a rose—and dogs have about 900 square inches. When I look at Ceilidh’s Pug nose, I have a really hard time believing that … but what do I know? I have heard that dogs with longer noses have a better sense of smell. But if that was the case, why would really long-snouted dogs like Afghan Hounds be called “sight hounds?”
I’ve also read that the fact that dogs have wet noses all the time allows them to trap scent in the mucus on their noses and inside their nasal passages. All of this must be helpful when Ceilidh stops for 20 minutes to sniff every dripping leaf on the corner shrub each morning. Apparently, when dogs sniff urine left by neighbour dogs, they can collect a lot of information. Guess they don’t call it “pee-mail” for nothing! They can tell whether the “author” was male, female, neutered/unneutered, friend or stranger. They can tell their social standing in the dog community and even the dog’s mood at the time of marking!
UBC psychologist and canine behaviour expert, Stanley Coren, explains dogs’ sense of smell as similar to the human ability to see multi-layers. He gives the example of looking at a bed with a quilt and pillows, and a book and a pair of glasses all piled on. We can see each of these individual parts of the scene. Similarly, dogs are able to identify different elements that make up the stench that we’d call trash—rotten fish, old French fries, tartar sauce with mold, rancid cashews, etc. There’s a lot of media these days too about whether dogs can smell cancer in humans. Some reports say that dogs can detect cancer by sniffing a person’s breath!
I can’t imagine what it must be like to have such a keen sense. Talk about overload… must be a real burden! No wonder dogs sleep so much. Just tryin’ to get away from the smells of everyday life.