It pretty much goes without saying that humans aren't exactly the most attractive animals on the planet. Large bare patches of skin, that ungainly upright posture, glaringly white teeth and funny ears are just some of the visible characteristics that take some getting used to. But for most dogs the most ungraceful aspect of the human appearance is the nose, or, more accurately the lack of a nose. Sure we get used to it, but how many of us really understand the human nose and how it functions?
Most dogs assume that the human nose, like the dog nose, is for smelling scents. And it's possible that once upon a time that was right. But even a casual observation of human behavior indicates that they have little, if any, ability to smell. Have you ever seen one human smell another human's crotch or butt? Doesn't happen. (Well, there was that one guy, but he seemed to get hit a lot.)
Humans are so totally oblivious to the scents of other people that the only way they can tell if another human is in heat is to get the person drunk and see what happens. And they're always getting into fights because they can't smell trouble coming a mile away.
You've probably played the smell game with your human, where you take a favorite shoe or remote control device and hide it to see if the human can find it. They rarely can. And even if you play the game over and over again, they never get any better at it.
Dog scientists who study human cadavers point out that the human skull just doesn't have room for enough nasal sensors. The human nose only accommodates a nasal passage a few inches long, whereas the dog's longer nose with its convoluted nasal passages would reach nearly 1500 miles if stretched out in a straight line. (That's in dog miles.)
As humans have evolved their skulls have gotten increasingly bulbous in the area behind the eyes where it seems to have no useful purpose, while the nasal area continues to shrink. There is even evidence to suggest that humans have a tendency to ostracize other humans with large noses, refusing to breed with them or put them in the centerfolds of their magazines. They seem to want to maintain just enough nose to hold their glasses, and then go to surgeons to get the rest removed.
There is probably no way to reverse this negative development, but we can learn how to make the best of it. Here's a few tricks that can help your human get a little bit more in touch with what's left of his or her inner smell.
For starters, always remember to breathe directly in their faces. If you sit quietly at their feet, they're never going to know that you just cleaned out the cat box for them.
Humans can rarely smell anything that's not extremely close to them, so what professional trainers often do with their humans is pay careful attention to the paths they walk, and then leave large piles of do-do where humans can step in them. This way the human will carry your scent around for a while and develop a deeper understanding of just who you are and what you smell like. This is especially effective if your human wears those waffle-soled hiking boots.
And when you can't take your human to the smell, you can always bring the smell back to your human. Say you're out running around and you come across a deer carcass that's been rotting in the woods for three or four weeks. If you run back to the house and try to tell you human, you can bark and jump and roll over and beg and do everything but write "dead deer" in the mashed potatoes and he's not going to come out and look at what you've found. But if you roll around in the juicy parts of the dead deer and get the smell all over your fur (and remember, human smell is weak, so you've got to REALLY rub it in) and then go home, nine times out of ten your human is going to jump up, grab his own nose to indicate understanding and scream "Omygod, Woody found a dead deer!"
There's just nothing more rewarding than a moment like that when you've actually managed to establish direct communication with your human, however brief. It makes it all worthwhile, even the bath afterwards, and that's saying a lot.