October 30, 2009

scentsMaking Scents of the World

When it rains, the scents of the world rise up from the ground as heavily and thickly as the rain from the skies. When you’re a dog, like I am, it’s hard to do anything else, but put your nose to the ground and decipher the scents.

There are thousands of them. Millions perhaps and so when we go walking on a rainy day or after a rainy day, Gretchen is working hard to keep us all going in a forward direction.

While the rain lifts the scents the most, the wind can also blow in scents that are as enticing as those in the ground. Today, though we had no rain (that was yesterday) we had wind and so, our noses were working in overdrive. You see, for a dog, the world makes sense through our noses. We create olfactory maps in our heads about the world. If your sadly confined to a backyard, let’s say, your dog brain isn’t fully developed. It hasn’t reached it’s full potential with all the neural pathways running at full speed because you haven’t exposed your nose to the world.

And the world is BIG! When I was a puppy, my moms took me on long walks through our neighborhood so I could create a map in my head — this is home, this is playground, this is the place where the cat lives, this is where my best friend lives. As I got older, we traveled to more and more places so now, when we pull up to my Grandparents’ house or down the driveway to my agility class, I know exactly where we are even before we arrive.

Therefore, as a dog dog walker, I do my best to make certain our clients get a chance to build their olfactory maps by taking them to lots and lots of different places. It’s hard, of course, to walk a different route when we only have 30 minutes, but on days like this — days after it’s rained and the wind is whipping up from the south — we don’t have to travel too far to make scents of the world.

rosie's noseOur work day started with a walk with Monty. That was nice — just the two of us — and we walked up the gardens and back down by the dog park with our noses to the ground or held high in the air. Gretchen didn’t take any photos of this outing, she just let us enjoy our time together. When we got back to the house, we had a nice lunch while she headed over to Rosie’s house for another outing.

Rosie’s nose is a lot shorter than mine so I’m not sure if that means she can smell better than I can or worse. Somehow I think it’s better because Gretchen reports that Rosie knows (nose?) exactly where the treats are in her backpack or in which pocket of her pants. They walked the leaf-strewn streets and every once in awhile, Rosie would pull Gretchen off to the side so she could a good whiff of rising scents.

She also lifted her nose to the wind on a number of occasions and then smiled with delight at all that her nose encountered.

cookies?what's that I smell?

smiling rosieterrier nose

After Rosie came Gemma. As a terrier, Gemma’s job is to sniff out rodents. As I’ve written before, Gemma is really good at that since she can spot a squirrel from half a mile away, no doubt smelling the little varmints before any of the rest of us. Gemma go to play at the tennis courts today, which is often a challenge since she’s not that interested in playing fetch. Instead, she’d rather race around with her nose to the ground and record every fragrance in her terrier brain.

Talk about neuropathways! Gemma’s got ’em in spades.

runninggot it!

ball girl

Next up, Gretchen back to the house, gathered up Monty and me and then we headed next door to walk Oshi and Perrito. They wanted to go to the tennis courts, too, so we worked our way there after smelling every speck of the ground between our house and the courts. The wind and the smells made everyone kind of frisky even Monty though he spent half the time on the bench. We still haven’t figured that one out yet. Maybe it smells better up there. Hard to say.

on the benchstill on the bench

heading to the benchhow can I get this?

throw it!flying


you're tall, rubin!airborne

woof!I want one!

After the boys went home, Monty and I walked over to Saber’s house and boy, was he ever glad to see us! Gretchen decided we needed a walk first, so we headed up over the hill and then through the Coleman Pea Patch where all of us did our best to pose for the camera while the amazing smells blew past us.


We were going to just head home after that, but Saber asked to play at the tennis courts again and what were to do? Say no? I think not. Monty did what he always does — played and then jumped on the bench — while Saber and I played keep away — me with the ball and Saber with every intention of taking it away from me. Fat chance.


Of course, he did try something he’s not tried before…


…and I had to spit out my ball and give him a stern talking to! He was much more polite after that. Still, he listens to Monty more than to me as you can see here. Saber is lying flat waiting not for Monty to pass by, but for me and then POUNCE! he springs forth like a …well, like the oversize puppy that he is!

get readypounce!

We all got pretty tired after our time together and while we took some breaks at the tennis courts…




…when Monty and I got home, we both curled up on our favorite beds for a much needed rest.


It’s Friday and I, for one, am glad. My feet and my nose are worn out from the week and I’m looking forward to turning those clocks back an hour over the weekend!

Have a great one!


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