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A Dog's Nose Knows

September 2016

A dog's nose is a truly miraculous thing.  It is said that a dog's nose has up to 300 million olfactory receptors whereas a human's nose may have about six million receptors.  While that alone sounds amazing, those same studies also show that up to 40% more of a dog's brain is dedicated to analyzing smells, than a human's brain, and that the dog's brain creates a 3-D picture of the things he smells. Imagine that!

When puppies are born, only the sense of smell is functional at the time of birth.  Not just Norwich Terrier puppies, but all puppies. Sight, then hearing follow in the next few weeks.  It's no surprise why our dog's rely so heavily on their noses to navigate the world around them – it's the first sense they are born with.  Even though I've heard all this before, I'm still fascinated when I watch Norman use his nose. 

We have a local park that has become a favorite.  It's woodsy and quiet and we love being there with Norman to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. I am convinced that Norman has mapped and memorized this 265 acre wooded park by using his sense of smell.  He knows exactly which trail leads where. If we try to go a different

way – off the beaten path, he stops and looks around as if to say, "That's not the right way!" and pulls in the other direction – the direction his nose knows to go.  He knows the way because he has been putting out his scent markers for years. Neither rain, the passage of time, or other dogs cannot disguise his markers.  


Think that's impressive? I was walking Norman in the neighborhood one day when Mike called on his way home.  As we were hanging up, he said "I'll just pass by so he doesn't get excited and try to follow the car and pull you all the way home."  Norman and I continued on our way along the sidewalk and Mike drove by just like any other neighbor.  Suddenly Norman stopped, raised his nose and began to sniff.  He then looked at me as if to say, "I know who that is!" and began to run in the direction of the scent and our home.  He detected Mike's scent passing by in a closed, moving vehicle.  A dog's nose is an amazing thing!

The next time you look at your dog and kiss his cold, wet nose and marvel at how cute that nose is, take a moment to appreciate the amazing things that nose can do!   

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