Dog Science

Science has discovered—or confirmed, I’m not sure—either way, someone actually studied this stuff in some sort of formal way—that dogs are jealous. No joke. Science has also concluded that dogs understand the meaning and tone of our words.

I know about this because, while I am too lazy to do so, my husband Ray reads The New Scientist Magazine, among others, and he reports to me the interesting stuff. So I feel like I have a pretty good deal going on.

This morning, on our daily walk in the woods with our dog, I was laughing about how she has to stick her nose into every snowy footprint: deer, rabbits, something smaller. It really is a bonanza for her.


“But it makes sense,” I said to Ray.

We all know that dogs “see” with their noses, but I have discovered something else, and I wonder aloud if it applies to other animals as well—if that’s why footprints are of special interest.

I don’t know about your dog, but our dog has a warm, puppy smell—even though she is now eight years old—that she exudes when she is happy. I have done extensive, rigorous scientific research (a.k.a.: cuddling on the couch) and I have tracked down the source of this smell, which, I will add, is a strong cuddle-inducer.

It comes from her paws. Yup. The bottom of her feet.

She has other smells that come from other parts of her body.

Turkey shit? That’s from the shoulders. She drops one and then rolls around onto the other, back and forth, until she has completed her toilette.


She can also, apparently, turn on WMD-level dog breath at will. When she wants attention, she will sit in front of me, staring and panting. “I’m busy,” I say, but she keeps panting, replacing the airspace around me with I-don’t-even-know-what. Until, “Omigod,” I say, flapping my hand, and up I get and she immediately shuts off the viral dog breath and goes boinging out of the room to the door.

On trips, when she is tired of sitting in the back of the car to monitor motorcycle traffic, she also applies the panting dog-breath method to force a stop or, at the least, some awkward, reach-around-behind-the-seat tummy scratches.

This morning, as Ray and I slithered down the hill toward the creek—there are a few inches of snow over ice—we decided that perhaps that is the next topic for science to investigate: do all dogs, in fact, have a warm, puppy smell, and if so, where does it come from? What about other animals?

“Or,” Ray says, as our dog yanks a stick out of the snow and charges full speed back up the hill, “they could find out whether dogs like new snow.”