March 27, 2005

I Smell a Rat! Or Is That a Roast?

From time to time I just sit and enjoy asinine thoughts. Or, I watch the TV and just listen to asinine things, but today, I’ve done more of the former and figured I might as well get it into writing. Why waste a perfectly stupid topic?

While studying psychology many years ago, it was brought to my attention that as humans, most of us initially use our sense of sight as a primary data grabber. For example, if I see a Chevy and recognize the model, the first thing I might mention about this visual is that it’s a blue Nova. If I hung around with motor-heads in my youth, I might even add that it’s a ’68. I probably wouldn’t say that it needed a major tune-up (using my ears) or that the back seat was loaded up with empty Budweiser bottles (using my nose) unless I was asked for specifics. This theory usually works quite well with humans unless they are severely or completely sight-challenged. At first, we’re usually going to recall what we saw.

Now, the rest of the animal kingdom heavily relies on its sense of smell as a primary detector. Some animals have such a keen sniffer they can sense prey a mile or more away. This is so important a sense to many creatures that their very existence depends on it!

This brings me around to today’s thought topic: Why do dogs sniff each other’s asses? As a part of our study on the brain and perception, our deeply motivated class posed this question to our professor. He composed himself ~ pleased to see that at least we weren’t doodling Dilbert characters on our study sheets for once, and instead, our minds were hard at work.

He pointed out to us that the dog’s primary data grabber is its olfactory system; its schnozz. Through years of testing and research analysis, scientists have proven that a dog will rely so heavily on its sense of smell that sight becomes nothing more than an afterthought in its world.

To prove this point, a small group of dogs were placed in a room with some rubber toys. Some of the dogs remained indifferent to the toys, others were nosing them around the room or chewing on them and tossing them into the air. You know, just being dogs. The man then removed one of the balls and, behind a closed door, rubbed canned dog food on it. He then dried it off and replaced it into the room. The dogs went nuts! They tried to bite the ball, scratched at it feverishly and even started to fight one another for it. But wait, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

To a dog, his knee jerk reaction is one of “why the heck does this food look and feel like a ball?” He first believes the ball IS what it smells like. That is the sense he has come to initially trust. That is what he is going to believe.

Now, if you perform the same ball experiment with a group of humans, their first thought would always be “why the heck does this ball smell like dog food?” Sight is the first sense we tend to trust. We trust that it is, in fact, a rubber ball.

For this reason, it is my assessment that when you see a dog sniffing another dog’s ass, surely he must be thinking “now why in hell does this pile of dung have fur and a tail,” or, “why is this turd pile walking away from me?”
Confusion. We all know that dogs will eat litter box nuggets if afforded the opportunity. So there’s more to it than just simple ass sniffing. He's probably hoping for an afternoon snack.

We all know that when one dog or cat owner visits another, upon eliciting dry humps and leg sniffing from the family pet, the owner will usually say “Oh he knows you have an animal.” No, in fact, what he knows is that you ARE what he smells. He’s trying desperately to sort you out. Maybe even to couple with you!

It’s really an interesting concept when you think about it. Sharks are also rather nose-smart creatures. If you take it to this level, you might realize that the smell of blood in water elicits an olfactory response in sharks and not some deep-rooted hatred against all of mankind. They’re not out to get the girl in the bikini or the man who just cut his leg on his surfboard. They’re tracking potential prey in the form of an injured or disabled hunk of meat. They could care less if its toenails are painted or if it sports a mullet.

Men don’t go hunting with deer piss sprayed all over them just for shits and giggles. What some don’t realize is that in performing this incredibly mind-bending ritual (the piss bath, not the hunting) they’re not only trying to fool a deer into thinking they’re another deer, but they’re also covering up their own predatory (human) stench. Of course, in this case, what the deer is probably thinking is, “I’ve got your bottled deer piss right here bucko,” as he flees into the woods.

Asinine thoughts. Gotta love ‘em.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A surprising change of direction Carol. You're even more versatile than I would have guessed.

It's nice to see a post about piss. I thought I was the only one who ever wrote about such things.


5:55 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

Interesting, but it fails to explain why there is no ass-flavored dog food. :p

Seriously, great post. My thoughts tend to be too random to turn into a coherent post. This morning my brain almost convinced me to go back to sleep because, since there are two clocks in my bedroom, I now had twice as much time to get to work.

It made sense at the time.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Sask 1 said...

Im not sure the human part takes into account teenage boys.Who from my experience only have brains interested in 2 things.Sex and food.If a woman was a pizza they'd be in heaven.

1:25 PM  
Blogger NYCbeauty said...

Great post. My dog sniffs more asses than any other dog in the city. She also sniffs human ass. I used to suffer embarrassment but now I just smile and shrug my shoulders. Because I do love her to death

2:39 PM  
Blogger Wally said...


This is only my fourth try at commenting! Nuff said!
Anyway, if variety is the spice of life, you must have a whole closet full! Great story!
But I don't care what they say... I still don't believe that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a humans! ;-)

4:55 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

LOL!!! I always wondered why dogs sniffed at eachothers' asses!! Thanks for clearing that up!

6:42 PM  
Blogger happyandblue2 said...

All I kept thinking as I read this was I'm so glad that humans are visual not butt sniffers..

11:39 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...


This was fun. I also enjoyed being able to talk about this at work. Thanks for the fun thoughts! You rock!


3:38 AM  
Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Essays like this are worthy of a Nobel Prize.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Or should I write, "I SMELL a potential prize-winner here."

9:13 AM  
Blogger frustratedwriter said...

I always thought the dogs were sniffing for hormones...such as whether the female was in utreus or the male was potent. Hmm, will have to rethink that. I do find some humans are more sniff oriented than others...a sniff triggering a pleasant or unpleasant memory but you are correct our sight tends to be the dominant sense to trust...for instance, "Did I see you kissing Rose Mary Johnson at the movies last night?" is definitely interrigation based on sight acquisition leading to a painful and tortuous death... as opposed to "Why do you have Chanel #5 on your suit? Were you shopping in Dilliards again?" an interrigation based on hoping for perfume on her next birthday leading to a thinner wallet. Great post Carol!

10:30 PM  
Blogger jon said...

That was funny. Although perhaps we are not as far from dogs as your study might suggest. Get a room full of guys together and feed them beans. You will here things like, "nice one, bill. That made my eyes water!"
Isn't this ass sniffing without the bending over?

9:18 PM  
Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

I'm now officially hooked on your site from reading this second post! LOVED this!!!!! I'm an arsty/science/psych/literary geek who thinks "too much" by some ass-uh-nine people...

I must go work on a commissioned painting. IT's hard when the pull to read and paint is simultaneous. :) I'll be back another day.
(If you do visit my site, please look beyond the current very uncharacteristic post of mine.... I have a varied site.)

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Bert Solari said...

This is very informative. I hope to see more in the near future

8:37 AM  

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