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The Nose Knows

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188 – May, 2018

BY CHRIS ROBINSON

Have you ever stopped to think about what a wondrous thing a dog’s nose is? And, not just because it is the perfect target for a kiss when we want to tell a dog how proud we are of them or how much we love them?

I’ve often been amazed at my Chesapeakes’ and Brittanys’ abilities to sniff out birds, especially the Brits. On numerous occasions hunting quail in Nebraska, I’ve seen the Brits home in like a Hell-fire II “fire and forget” missile on a single bird 30 yards away before locking up on point three to four feet from the bird’s hiding place. Each time I walked up on the point, I expected at the very least a pheasant would be what would flush and more likely it would be a enormous covey of quail to have put out enough scent to have been detected at that distance. Each time I was shocked when all that flushed was a single tiny bobwhite.

Think about this for a minute. An average northern bobwhite quail measures about nine inches and weighs around six ounces. The scent cone produced by such a little bird must indeed be tiny. Yet, from such a distance and sometimes through tall, heavy cover like switchgrass, the dog not only caught scent of the bird but was able to zero in on it without any hesitation or difficulty. Hold a quail up to your nose some time if you get the opportunity. All you’ll get is a slightly musty, feathery scent and aside from that, you won’t smell anything. We humans couldn’t find a quail by scent on the best day we ever had. But even on their worst days, dogs can. I’ve seen my Chesapeakes, on a hunt for a downed goose on a vast Saskatchewan wheat field, and by “vast” I mean a half section (320 acres), suddenly execute a 90 degree turn, make a 40 yard beeline to a grain swath and dig the goose out from beneath the cut wheat. How they do it has always left me shaking my head in wonderment.

As I watch Bo, my young Chesapeake, poking around the yard and in our fields, I sometimes try to imagine what he’s smelling. It’s an impossible task, obviously, because his sense of smell and the number of scents he’s able to differentiate is likely about 100,000 times better than mine. Every now and then, he stops and noses into a clump of grass, burrowing his nose into some aroma that I’ll never smell. Sometimes he paws at the scent a bit before he decides it’s nothing of importance for him and if it’s not important to him, in his view it certainly wouldn’t be important to me, then he usually lifts his leg on the spot, marking it for any other dog that may happen along.

Click here to read the complete article
188 – May, 2018

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=143726

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