Friday, November 10, 2023

The nose knows

Charly’s heritage stemmed from hunting dogs some of whom were also developed into show dogs.  As a new dog owner, I knew not the keen skill of English Springer Spaniels to hunt – to spring to flush out fowl and to locate the kill.  When she was only two and a half months old amidst a prairie winter, she had the opportunity to trek to find a deer that a hunter had shot and wounded late the evening before.  The deer had travelled some distance, but bled drops as it went.  The space between the blood was a few metres, and difficult to see with the dusting of fallen snow overnight.  I let little puppy Charly off her leash in front of the first blood drops, and she immediately bounced through the snow, leading the way.  That new nose knew exactly where to go, and soon the now dead deer was located.  Impressive!

Unlike many of her other aging body parts, Charly’s older nose has retained its prowess.  Usually on walks, she sniffs and sniffs and goes in curvy paths as she attempts to track down something.  Sometimes she just sniffs around an area to locate miscellaneous compost items that fled the green bins before they were emptied on trash pick-up day.  She and I disagree as to whether our walks should mainly be in the gutters where those bins awaited emptying, or on the sidewalk.  I think the ripe apples near the sidewalk from neighbours’ trees look very appetizing, while she turns her nose.  

What still surprises me is her ability to locate something that I cannot see – and likely she cannot see either!  It’s in the clover on the boulevard.  It’s deep in a bush.  It’s mashed into looking like part of the road pavement.  But, once located, it’s gobbled up as if she’s a starveling rather than a marginally over-fed dog.  She still impresses me when snow has fallen the night before, and I think we are the first to tread, but I can see that her sniffing is not confused…tracks of various sorts and coloured marks evince what it is she’s smelling.  Happily, her old nose still knows!

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