Dog sense

Gail Wieder, Special to The County
1 year ago

There are many interesting facts when it comes to man’s best friend.  With all the love, cuddles and companionship these four-legged critters give us, the least we can do is learn a little bit more about what makes them so special.  

Whether you have a small dog or a large dog, there are so many facts about dogs that go beyond just their behavior and facial expressions.  Over the years I have had several dogs, and each one of them was unique in its own way.  I have had small dogs and large dogs. I don’t really have a preference; I love all dogs.

Did you know that the “smell” center of a dog’s brain is 40 times larger than ours?  Dogs can smell thousands of times better than humans.  Their noses have millions more scent receptors. This makes a dog useful for sniffing out drugs, dead bodies, bed bugs, explosives and many other things.  

They can smell so many things that we humans can’t smell.  Sometimes when I have my dog outside, her little nose goes up in the air. I wonder what she is smelling, because I am not smelling anything.  Makes me think that maybe she is smelling a coyote or fox nearby. Living in the country, I’m always on the lookout for those. 

Dogs’ sense of smell might be amazing, but don’t forget about their hearing. Everything from the positioning of their ears to muscles in them help dogs pick up a whole host of sounds that humans can’t hear.  In fact, the most popular explanation for why dogs tilt their heads is that they’re trying to locate the source of the sound.  

I know, having dogs of my own, that they understand a lot of the things I say. Maybe it’s the tone of my voice they respond to, when asking if they want to go out to do their business, to mentioning if they want to go for a ride.  They are smart creatures, these four-legged members of our families.  

Did you know that a dog’s sense of taste is much less developed? They only have one-sixth of the taste buds humans have. This is why dogs will scarf rotting food scraps or grass as fast as they’ll eat a bowl of kibble or a hunk of steak.  

I make my little Yorkipoo’s food with chicken, rice and green beans.  Sometimes that little dog will go at it like she has never eaten before, other times she just looks at me, and wants butter on it. I will dab a little bit of butter on, and she will eat it.  Her taste buds may be off that day — that is what I tell myself, anyway — or maybe she’s just plain spoiled.

If you’ve ever noticed your pooch twitching in her sleep, this probably means she is dreaming.  I read that researchers found that dogs have similar sleep patterns and brain activity as humans, and that small breeds dream more than large breeds.  I did not know this.

I have had both large and small dogs, and have seen them in one of their dreams, making noises and twitching.  Sometimes it is rather funny to watch, and you wonder what they are dreaming about.  Not sure if you’re supposed to wake them up or not, but I always do after a few seconds. Just a gentle pat will wake them from their restless sleep.

 If you are in need of some companionship, and are thinking of getting yourself a pet, check out the Central Aroostook Humane Society.  We have some wonderful animals looking for their forever home.  Betsy and her staff are great at  working with you and finding out what you are looking for in a pet.  

Our shelter is located at 24 Cross St. in Presque Isle. The hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p .m., closed for lunch from 12 to 12:30 p.m.   

I leave you with this quote by Orhan Pamuk: “Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”

Gail Wieder is a member of the Central Aroostook Humane Society board of directors.