Updated: May 29
Our dogs perceive the world in a way we will never understand. They use their nose to take in information and learn like their very own Wikipedia. It's how they make friends, sense danger, feel safe in their environment and generally understand the world around them. They can smell out a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic sized pools. They have up to 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our six million. The part of a dog's brain that processes scent is 40 times larger than ours. When we inhale, we smell and breathe through the same airways. When dogs inhale the airflow enters their nose and splits into one for olfaction and one for respiration. They also have a second nose, located in the bottom of their nasal passage, the Jacobson's organ. This takes in pheromones. Dogs store smells in a special smell chamber in their nose until they are able to completely identify the scent. It has been widly believed that only certain animals have conciousness, a sense of self. This was tested by putting a a cross of paint on the face of the animal and showing them a mirror. If the animal touched the cross on their own forehead, the conclusion was that they recognised themselves in the mirror. only some animals passed this test including great apes, elephants and dolphins. Dogs failed, with the conclusion they were unable to understand self. But Horowitz recognized that dogs understand the world through scent. When a study was devised allowing them to smell the scent of their own wee and another dog’s wee, the dogs spent more time sniffing the other dog’s wee. suggesting a self-association with their own scent, knowing a sense of self. So let your dog sniff! And if you ever start to get impatient just think about how you would feel if someone kept covering your eyes when you went to look at Facebook, your favourite tv programme, your children's beautiful faces, a beautiful flower or even that spider that's crawling towards you that you need to keep an eye on.
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