Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Nose Knows...canine superpower

One of the central characters of my work-in-progress cozy mystery novel, is a beagle
"Beagle Face" By Mariano Szklanny  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
named Betty. I chose Betty's breed, not only for its well-deserved reputation as a sweet and loyal companion, but because it is one of the stars of the canine olfactory league. Since my main character is an aromatherapist who deals in scents on a daily basis, it seemed appropriate she should have a pet that appreciates her particular line of work. In researching various super-sniffer breeds I learned just how amazing is the canine sense of smell. Compared to humans, it really does fall into the superpowers realm.

Not only do dogs have superior numbers of olfactory sensors in their noses (300 million to our 6 million,) the part of their brains dedicated to detecting smells is about 40 times greater than ours. When an analogy is made with vision, if eyes could see as well as noses could smell, what we could see clearly at 1/3 of a mile, a dog could see at 3000 miles or further. If the analogy is one of taste, where we could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of coffee, a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water. Yes. They are that
"Sophie and Toadstool" by KL Wood
powerful. For myself, I'm grateful my sense of smell is not so acute, especially when passing by an active landfill on a hot summer day. It's a good thing dogs appear to enjoy all kinds of smells! 

Dogs can determine which of their nostrils a particular scent entered, knowing to search left or to search right for the source. And although we inhale and exhale air and scent through the same passageway, dogs have a fold inside their noses that separate the two and upon exhalation, sends the scent out through slits on the side of the nose in a swirl of air that helps pull in more scent. In this way, dogs can achieve a continuous flow of scent making them the outstanding trackers they are. For more fascinating facts about this canine superpower, I invite you to check out this article from the PBS program, NOVA:

Here is a list pulled from of the crème de la crème, the top ten sniffing superstars of dogdom:
"Blood Hound" By Petruss (Own work) Wikimedia Commons

10- Pointer
 9- German Shorthaired Pointer
 8- Coonhound
 7- English Springer Spaniel
 6- Belgian Malinois
 5- Labrador Retriever
 4- German Shepherd
 3- Beagle (go Betty!)
 2- Bassett Hound
And, drumroll please, the number one sniffer is...
 1-Blood Hound

So, there you have it. As we humans sit smugly assuming we are in all ways superior to all God's creatures, let us not forget that most everything on earth has its own superpower and many such powers are more helpful and less destructive than a big brain.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now!