Mitzi's photo was taken during a romp in the snow, on the same occasion as Villain's (see post 29 May). She seems to be looking for Mum - but how?
On this week's visit to the supermarket, there was a dog secured to a leash hook in the entrance, in the exactly the same stance as Mitzi in the photo looking out for her owner. I noticed how the dog's nostrils were twitching independently of each other.
Sniffing Mum out I realised, thanks to a clearer grasp of a dog’s view of the world after re-reading Chapters 4 to 7 of Stanley Coren’s How Dogs Think for the next chapter of A Police Dog in the Family, that the dog was indeed looking out for her owner – but primarily using her nose. A dog not only has its owner's unique 'scent barcode' filed in its brain but it can gauge the direction the scent is coming from by comparing the scent strengths received through each nostril. It might sound far-fetched put like this, but I am certain that if the supermarket dog had jumped her lead, she would have found the person she sought far more quickly than a human whose dominant sense, like other primates, is vision.
Dogs can smell scurf For skin to function like home-made cling-film, dead cells, scurf, are constantly being shed into the air from the skin surface and replaced by younger cells from the deeper layers. The rate is sufficient for scurf to be a major component of house dust and sufficient for dogs to pick up the trail by air scenting. Amazing.
Source: How Dogs Think, Stanley Coren 2004. London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
It's almost two years since I published In Our Fathers' Footsteps (see under BOOKS). My latest book, One Dog and His Cop, about my cousin's police dog,was published 30 November this year (see under BOOKS).