If People Had Noses Like Dogs

I accompanied a horse-shoeing friend on her rounds one day in the rolling hills around Liberty, Mo. All the snow and mud and old barns and so on gave me the heebie-jeebies – farms for some reason bring up acute claustrophobia in me – but the biggest annoyance was being rushed by no less than six really waggy barky enthusiastic collies, all at once, by surprise. I was just getting out of the car when they were upon me and I nearly jumped out of my skin until I realized what was burying my extended right side.

I went and stood rather disconsolately in the barn where my friend and the owners were discussing whatever hoofy things were afoot. The dogs thought I was a fit item for study and each of them in turn had to come and shove his or her very long, very hard snout between my legs. Like any good Victorian I didn’t appreciate this. I wandered off to look about among the horse pens, dodging dog offal the while….

But later I got to thinking. …Dogs, I have read, have a sense of smell somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000 times stronger than humans’. This is really, really, really acute. Those dogs were receiving information about me I would love to know! I’ll bet you anything you like that a dog actually knows everything about us (though whether he cares or not is another thing and whether he can relay the information to us is of course another thing again: he can’t, so far. Maybe somebody could invent a dog-o-meter whereby the info could be parsed and made available!) I’ll bet he knows if we are ailing, and if so, precisely how. I’ll bet his nose knows if there is a tumor somewhere, or an imbalance of any kind. (In fact, I have read that dogs are trained to sniff out bladder cancer in a urine sample; it’s a disease otherwise very difficult to detect. Dolphins – to digress species-wise – have been known to rap people sharply over a body area where a tumor exists.) I’ll bet he realizes just how that dis-ease got there, too – he knows our pasts, in other words, through the fabulous intricacy of his perception. I’ll bet he knows our emotional state, our diet, our age, our fitness. All this he knows instantly and without words.

Can you imagine if people had such noses? Nice long wiggly pink or black organs with an endless twitchy sensing going on in them? We would all know everything instantly! We’d know if someone was lying to us…if someone liked us or not…if they were healthy…and if not, how not; doctors would be a very different breed than they now are, where they – and we all – labor in darkness and supposition. We would know if we were being poisoned by chemicals and wouldn’t put up with it. And since we can speak we could discuss all this happily, endlessly! “Mrs. Ding-a-Ling has her period and that Kotex she’s using has bleach in it! She cooked eggs this morning and she’s mad at her husband!” There would be no secrets. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Cats have spines with 300 times more nerves than ours. Is that not some sort of definition of intelligence? Can you imagine if we had such sensitive, fluid spines? We would dance all day! I wonder why we were given the possibility for consciousness – though no guarantee of it – yet robbed so woefully in other ways? Or have we just forgotten a lot of the sensitivities we might have possessed long ago? But we were never as sensate as dogs, nose-wise; no.

I heard Osho say, “Sensitivity is your birthright. Become more and more sensitive.” Meditation certainly increases sensitivity…so much. It is already difficult for me to exist in human society considering I can’t stand perfume, chemicals, flourescent lights, ghastly stuck old psychic miasmas, and so on. And a dog is a zillion times more sensitive than I am! Perhaps he just doesn’t judge what he encounters?

Although the image is weird – long black wiggly noses on fashion models – it is not any weirder than what we already have; we are just used to ourselves is all. And it would be so very efficient – such a short-cut in so many ways – if we knew as much as shaggy waggy beasts do.