Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sniff, sniff, sniff

Here's Jamie at a tracking workshop back in his glory days.

Today's post is kind of silly but I haven’t written about Jamie in a while. 

Jamie has an incredible nose.

It’s really a shame I didn’t work harder to get his TDX because he loves to use his nose.

At 12 1/2, he can’t hear diddly squat any more and doesn’t see as well as he used to but let me tell ya, he doesn’t miss any sniffers.

His best talent is alerting on new scents. He orients on anything that is different from the day-to-day norm at our house and there’s no stopping him until he’s got the new scent inspected and categorized. 

He is REALLY good at sniffing out different stuff on me. This occasionally leads to awkward situations but I have learned through the years that he is just very good at detecting anything that doesn’t fall within the parameters of how he thinks I should “normally” smell.

Oddly, very few of the scents he obsesses about are food oriented (although he’s a champion at finding treats in pockets). 

Any new lip balm or toothpaste is guaranteed to get a reaction. Wearing new clothing for the first time draws him like a magnet, even if it’s been laundered. Using new dish soap? He’ll practically stick his head in the sink to sniff it. Back in the day when I actually bothered with makeup, switching brands of cosmetics would get me paws on my shoulders while he sniffed my face. I couldn’t get anything past him.

Jamie has always been very interested in my hair after I have it trimmed. Granted, my stylist loves to use every product available and I always get my money’s worth, leaving her shop with a head of hair that has been shampooed, conditioned, de-tangled, mousse’d, gelled and sprayed within an inch of its life.

When I get home after a hair appointment, Jamie is obsessed with sniffing my head. If I don’t just stop and let him do it, he will stalk me around the house until I happen to lean down to open a drawer or pick something up and then he buries his nose in my hair to sniff. This usually ends with an explosive sneeze. 

About 10 years ago, I had a bunch and I mean a BUNCH of dental work done. It didn’t go well. My jaw ached. Ibuprofen barely dulled the pain. I couldn’t eat. Jamie would not leave that side of my face alone. He was constantly trying to sniff my mouth and kept licking my cheek. I went back to the dentist and found out things were not healing properly.

After that, I started paying more attention to him if he sniffed a particular body part. So far, so good. He’s OCD about ears, too — my ears, Phoenix’s ears, your ears. Just sayin’. Look out if he gets near you.

When I came home from the hospital after my heart scare in 2009, Jamie kept sniffing and poking at my midsection. I finally figured out he was sniffing the leftover adhesive from all the places the EKG patches had been stuck. He was also very interested in the spots on my arms and hands where they’d put IVs. If he were a human, I think he might have been a doctor. Or a medical examiner.

He’s the only dog I’ve ever had who seems to care about stuff like this. The Shelties weren’t very sniffy. Phoenix sniffs me but not with the same determination. He’s more of a casual sniffer (“Oh, yeah, it’s you”) and he's all about finding treats in pockets.

When I throw a ball for both dogs outside and it lands in a difficult place, I can see Jamie drop his nose and work to locate it by scent, while Phoenix runs amuck and can’t find it half the time even if he runs over the top of it. 

Love my Big Red Dog.


  1. Dogs are so funny. Very interesting.

  2. fascinating ...I'm just home from dental surgery and our young golden just stood up on his hind legs to sniff the surgery side of my face ... I thought it was odd -then read your post within the hour ....

    I'll pay more attention to his sniffing I think!

  3. Good boy Jamie!! You should put him in Becky's Nosework class at 4RK9s next month. He would LOVE that!!!

  4. If Jazz sniffs something very seriously - pay attention. You probably need to call the doctor. He can find an infection of the tiniest spot in a split second! I have always paid attention when he sniffs.