Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Which I Read About Dogs

I am currently reading "Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know," by Alexandra Horowitz (2009). The author's goal is to present what it's like to be a dog from the dog's perspective, not our human one of what we think a dog is. I'm only one quarter of the way into the book, but I can comment on several things already. It's well written, so it's easy reading. She begins most chapters and sub-headings with anecdotes about her own dog (which any dog owner will recognize, although happily my two haven't ever rolled around on top of a dead animal). I particularly like her cogent and concise argument against modern-day trainers who espouse the 'alpha dog' and 'dog pack' mentality. I've always hated those concepts, but my argument usually boils down to "My dogs know I'm not a dog, so why would they think I was some kind of super dog?" Horowitz, however, rebuts those proponents with a well-balanced discussion of dog behavior vs. wolf behavior (which is where the alpha dog and pack dog arguments began).

And I learned that humans have 6 million sensory receptors for smell in our noses (I think I learned this eons ago in a human physiology class), but beagles have more than 300 million. Three hundred million! Can you imagine what the world must smell like to a beagle?

Although, with my allergies finally starting to bother me (but after a long, delightful reprieve), I think I probably only have about 4 functioning sensory receptors in my scratchy, red nose.

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