By Huw Le Lytle
This is a post about sniffing.
Sniffing is the social media of dogs. And I don’t just mean the joke about “pee-mail” because in fact it’s not really like pee-mail at all. It is really, really social.
We can post a smell anywhere and anytime we like. And anyone can read it! We aren’t thinking about any particular addressee when we post, we are just thinking about a witty post. And we don’t have to be anywhere near our original post when our followers read it. It’s just out there, and anyone can read it!
So it’s not really like email at all. It really is one of the best social media platforms in the world. Sniffer! And each new message is a Spritz!
I guess, to break it down for any human readers, it’s a bit more like Twitter than email. It stands on its own (we aren’t able to back it up with any body language), we are not directing it at anyone in particular, anyone and everyone can read it, and a popular post can be read literally by thousands! Now that’s socialization!
I guess if it were at all like email it would be spam. But it’s not spam, because these posts are informative, entertaining, and everyone wants to read them and “re-post” them. Every Spritz is shareworthy!
So, you can see, dogs have been networking for centuries. Humans, always slow to the party, are only just catching on now.
And there are lots of ways to read Sniffer. For instance, when we greet new friends and especially when we greet you. You may have noticed that we often like to do so by licking you. Some people have no patience for this. But we love to taste the smells you speak. Smells are about honest memories, and we honestly love you and want to remember that!
Same with rolling. It isn’t always fox poo, by the way. Rolling is my passion and I have never, not once, come home in fox poo. It can just be grass, or other dogs, but it is always part of our self-esteem, our self-image, our very identity. And even if it’s fox poo, obviously there was something important to be said. And it would be against all the laws of dog not to reply. Allowing us to have some take home messages from the park is one of the nicest things you can do for us.
But the thing to remember is that sniffing is very, very important. We need to keep up our reading, our social and intellectual lives, our freedom of expression. So I feel very sorry for the dogs that aren’t allowed to sniff. You know the ones, the ones that are expected to walk like robots, or are yanked along if they stop. I remember we were walking with someone once, and Human kept stopping for Leo, Finnegan and me to sniff. And the other person said, “Oh, I don’t know how you can put up with that, it would drive me crazy”. And Human said, “But this is one of the most important parts of a walk!”
And this is what confuses me sometimes. Why do some humans have such a problem with our social life? Why do they take some of the best communicators in the world and then try to mute them? All the things they do to our language … cropping ears, docking tails, de-barking, no sniffing … I will never understand why you would invite a friend to stay and then tell them not to speak.
So next time you are out for a walk, please don’t forget our rich intellectual life of sniffing!