So, I’m dragging a little bit this afternoon, but for a good reason. I ended up staying up late and reading Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know well into the evening last night. I plowed through the first 4 or 5 chapters during one of our flights home from Oahu, but I haven’t picked it up since then. No reason really— I just haven’t wanted to read before bed— but when I started reading it again last night, I totally got sucked in and couldn’t put it down.
I’ve really enjoyed reading Inside of a Dog and thought some of the dog lovers might too, so here’s just a sampling of the interesting things I’ve learned so far!
Interesting Tidbits from “Inside of a Dog:”
- Dogs make eye contact; wolves avoid it unless they feel threatened. Even though they share all but a third of 1% of their DNA, dogs and wolves are actually different species. The author discusses a number of these differences, but I thought the information on eye contact was especially interesting since Murphy is always making eye contact with me— almost like he’s waiting for my next move. In both dogs and wolves, eye contact can be a threat, but dogs generally make eye contact and look to us for information (about the location of food, about our emotions, about what is happening).
- Dog “kisses” aren’t actually displays of love or affection. (I know, I was bummed too.) Researchers report that wild puppies (wolves, coyotes, foxes) lick the face of their mother when she returns from a hunt in order to get her to regurgitate partially digested meat to them. Well, ok, then. But, here’s the good news, the behavior of licking (“kissing”) has become a ritualized greeting for most dogs. It no longer serves as a way to ask for food, but now as a way to say hello, which is why your dog might lick you like crazy when you get home. (I still think Murphy is showing me love with his kisses!)
- What we smell as humans is no where near what dogs smell. Human noses have about 6 million sensory receptor sites for smelling while most dogs have around 200 and beagle noses have 300! Imagine smelling freshly brewed coffee or baked bread with that type of nose! Whoa. Dogs actually have more genes, more cells, and kinds of cells committed to detecting different types of smells, so what and how much they smell is out of this world compared to what we do. Ever since I read this little tidbit, I give Murphy a lot more time on our walks to stop and sniff. His brain must go crazy every time he encounters a new smell!
- When a dog “marks” a spot with urine, they’re not actually “claiming” it as their property. Instead, urine marking is a method of communication—conveying a message, almost like leaving a note for another dog to find. The chemicals in urine provide information to other dogs, so the marker wants to leave their scent in easily visible places, which is why most dogs lift their legs up high to get their, um, stream to where other dogs can find it. In a busy neighborhood, these invisible piles of (pee) scents, like on a fire hydrant, become a “community bulletin board” with old, deteriorating announcements being covered up by the more recent posts of activities and events. The dogs who visit most frequently wind up being on top of the heap, so a natural hierarchy is created. Basically, dogs are leaving notes, like “Hey, what’s up? Murphy was here,” around the neighborhood instead of trying to claim a rock or mailbox post as property.
- Some dogs can sniff out disease. Researchers have started training dogs to recognize the smells produced by unhealthy, cancerous tissues. In one study, scientists collected the smells of cancer patients and patients without cancer in small urine samples or by having them breathe into tubes. When dogs were asked to sniff out the difference between healthy and unhealthy patients, they only missed 14 out of 1,272 attempts. Pretty amazing, right?
- Of all dogs (even Rottweilers and Pit Bulls), Dachshunds are the most aggressive to both their own owners and to strangers. I would have never guessed!
I’m a little more than halfway through the book so far, but, as you can see, it’s a really amazing read and, of course, so interesting! I love learning about what is going on inside Murphy’s little eraser brain!
Today’s lunch was a random mix of leftovers from the refrigerator. On Sundays, I typically cook up a whole bunch of meat and veggies for the upcoming week, so I can just grab-and-go when it comes to meals and snacks.
In the mix today: mashed butternut squash, chopped steamed asparagus, and chunked chicken sausage.
About an hour after lunch, I had a craving for something sweet, so I ate a No Bake Chocolate Fudge Cookie. Ever since I posted about this recipe, I’ve been obsessed with these cookies. I make them ALL the time and usually enjoy one (or two) after dinner every night. I cannot get enough of them! They’re like sweet and salty brownie Larabar cookie. So good.
Questions of the Day
Did any of these dog behavior tidbits surprise you?
Is there something your dog does that you just don’t understand?