Learning to deal with the basics in stink

One of the classic rules of dog behaviour is that a dog follows its nose. Otherwise, it would always be walking backwards.

The concern here is that a dog’s nose generally leads it to things most people would prefer not to smell – or watch a dog smell.

Take, for example, the other morning when I woke up and took my dog outside off-leash. I immediately noticed that Rosie ran towards an area of the front lawn that had been dug up in the night.  When I got there, I looked at the carnage with mixed emotions. On one hand, thanks to the unsightly holes and pulled up turf, there was less lawn to mow. On the other hand, it was clear that this was the handiwork of a skunk – the one my English springer spaniel was now hot on the trail of.

The skunk was not in sight, but judging from the joyous body language of my pup, it wasn’t too far off either.

Since this was very early in the morning and I did not want to wake up the neighbours, I whistled at Rosie. This is a recall signal she heeds 99 per cent of the time. The other one per cent of the time, she is trailing a skunk.

So, instead of heeling, she shot me a look that said, “I know you want me to return to you, but this is a really neat smell and, if we are lucky, I’ll catch up to the beautiful creature that made it. You want me to thank it for making less lawn to mow?”

Rosie gets me, I’ll give her that.

At that point I did the only thing I could do, I gave Rosie the hand signal to sit, which she did. Then I walked up to her, threw on a leash and escorted her home.

It was a very near thing, judging from the fact that even I could smell it.

An incident like this reminds a hunting dog owner that there will come a time when you will be driving home with your dog from a late-November hunt. It will be in the middle of a blizzard, when a howling crosswind and frigid temperatures descend upon the land and the stench inside the vehicle will force you will think it is a good idea to keep all the windows wide open until you get home – and maybe for a few hours after that.

Sometime on that drive home, however, you will also come to realize you have two choices: to let the sweet, merciful cold take you to your maker or to close the windows and turn up the heat and live with the unbearable stench of whatever your dog rolled in.

It’s not an easy decision.

By the way, if you are wearing your regular cologne, your dog will probably want to roll on you too.

The good news is, if you get pulled over on the way home, the officer will let you off with a warning and perhaps even an admonition to get as far away from this place as quickly as you can – speed limits be damned. And when you get home, your spouse will probably offer the same advice.

Fortunately, if you do things right, within a couple of months the smell will be gone from your vehicle. But there is bad news too. You might just have gotten used to it.

Either way, the solution is simple. Stop wearing that cheap cologne.

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