Zoey’s Take on the Animal Senses

In All About Me, Being Cute, Dog communication, Shelley Widhalm on August 12, 2012 at 11:30 am

Zoey the Cute Dachshund stops to smell the flowers during her downtown walk.

I am all about the sense of smell, and as a dog that blogs, I can smell my way into good prose.

Narrative writing like I do should engage all of the senses, those of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

I’ll start with smell, because it is my favorite sense, especially when I can smell food. I take that back – I love, love the taste of dog treats, rawhide and human food, particularly cheddar cheese, chicken, turkey, hamburger, eggs, apples and ice cream.

As a member of the canine species, I experience my world first through smells of different types and intensities, instead of relying on visual information like most humans. I track and explore these smells to obtain my information.

When Shelley, my writing partner, takes me on a walk, I have to stop at every brick wall, light pole, street sign and grassy area to check out the smells. I want to find out how many dogs stopped by and dared to consider my neighborhood theirs.

If I encounter another dog (hopefully not a big dog), we’ll engage in mutual sniffing to greet each other, as if shaking hands or exchanging business cards with our essential information, such as sex, breed and mood. I might be friendly, but I still want to tell the dog that this is mine, all of what I can see, smell and touch.

I can separate smells into distinct odors and don’t blend them. If someone is cooking, I can smell the individual ingredients, such as the steak, cheese and onions in a Philly cheesesteak sandwich.

I don’t do so well with sight, because, unlike humans who can distinguish the full color spectrum, I only see blues, yellows and grays; plus, I use vision as a secondary sense to confirm what I already know.

With sound, I am better than my human counterparts. I can hear higher-pitched sounds and am quicker at identifying a sound’s direction.

If you hear me (or other dogs) whimper or whine, I might be telling you that I’m hurt or that I want something.

I like to stand on my hind legs like a squirrel and jiggle my front paws to demonstrate that I want food, adding in a noise when I forget that with begging, there’s “No noise!”

If I yelp, I might be hurt or terrified.

If I growl, it’s likely I’m fearful, angry or demonstrating threat to another animal or human.

And when repeated barking occurs, I’m telling you I’m excited.

This is my sensory world, but when Shelley says about hers, “Avoid using adjectives, such as the pretty girl or the cute dog,” I have to growl.

How dare Shelley say that humans should avoid saying “cute dog.”

As if! I am cute, obviously, as the CEO of Cuteness and the cutest dachshund this side of the Mississippi (or globally, actually).

All right, go see Shelley’s blog, Shell’s Ink, at http://bit.ly/Rv5DSv

  1. Zoey, there are no adjectives descriptive enough.

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