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A matter of taste

By Scott Hunt

The Dog Grumbler

 

LOTS of dog owners ask me why dogs like to make themselves smell terrible.

I have pondered this question long and hard and can only offer the following observations.

It’s not all dogs that find foul-smelling stuff and roll in it, or at least not all dogs dive into the opportunity with the same relish and vigour as the major offenders.

And a carcass or pile of wombat excrement that appeals to one dog may not find equal favour with others.

Apparently, it’s a matter of taste.

The same thing applies to humans: my preferred aftershave may not appeal to you (or to your dog) as it does to me.

In my experience, those humans who use the cheapest fragrances frequently use the most — often with eye-watering results.

I think a dog’s perception of the world is centred on smell and movement, whereas humans are about words and pictures.

We express ourselves verbally and surround ourselves with things we like the look of.

Dogs have no red receptors and an eyeball design that allows each photon to hit the retina twice, giving them better vision in low light and awareness of vastly more shades of light intensity — but they are much less aware of colour and shapes.

Their eyes are mounted differently in their skulls, so they see more in peripheral vision and less in “stereo”.

They see movement with much greater acuity than you or I.

We know that the power of a dog’s nose and its ability to process olfactory data leaves us for dead.

We can see that they are way more interested in smelling stuff than looking at stuff.

A particular colour or style may attract one human to an item of clothing, a motor car, a piece of jewellery, furniture or whatever, yet offend another.

I think different smells say different things about taste and even personality in dogs.

Some people wear bright colours or eye-catching designs and some prefer to blend in with the crowd.

Some people like to follow fashion; some lead it — some renounce it entirely.

Some dogs like nose-catching creations like wombat poop.

They think it says something about them which they want other dogs to “hear”.

It’s not about offending humans and such offence quite rightly perplexes a dog, I’m sure.

So, take heart.

If your dog finds something hideous and sets about smearing its neck and shoulders in the stuff whenever your back is turned, it’s not about you; it’s about self-expression — it’s about how other dogs perceive your dog’s taste and character.

Your dog is an extrovert. To you and me it stinks; to its friends, your dog is probably the life of the party.

As regular readers will know, I am an advocate for dog parks.

This is a good place to take extrovert dogs because they can socialise freely, but there are no dead or defacating wombats — these are deterred by the fences and smell of carnivore.

On a more serious note: the good parks have double entry gates, and this is where confrontations often occur.

When at a dog park, I keep my dogs away from these areas until they are free.

My advice to all dog owners in parks is to do the same; use the gates and then get away from them so the next team can do the same.

Don’t wait for your turn by the gate — one slightly uneasy-smelling owner with a dog on leash in a confined space will adversely affect anyone nearby.

Much like one human wearing a gallon of Brut.