Dog’s nose knows

With­out say­ing a word, humans say so much

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - OUR TOWN - LISA KEL­LEY Lisa Kel­ley is an award-win­ning colum­nist, master gar­dener, an­i­mal lover and all-around good ol’ South­ern gal who also hap­pens to prac­tice law and me­di­ate cases in down­town Bentonville. Email her at

ED­I­TOR’S NOTE: Lisa Kel­ley is away this week. Writ­ing in her stead is her dog, Bax­ter.

Iam grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress you again in Owner Dear’s ab­sence. When last we met, I shared with you a bit about my­self — my love of cured meats, my fetch­ing looks and my sta­tus as loyal com­pan­ion and law part­ner of Owner Dear, who would un­doubt­edly be lost with­out my con­stant as­sis­tance. I have weighed care­fully the many sub­ject mat­ters of which I am as­tute — se­lect­ing chew­able footwear, telling time with­out the aid of a time­piece and hold­ing one’s licker in so­cial sit­u­a­tions, to name a few. Alas, I have ar­rived on a topic to share with you which en­com­passes all these mat­ters, that be­ing, the very na­ture of ca­nine knowl­edge.

In the past decade, I have lived and learned a great deal — some would say, seven times that of the av­er­age hu­man. Humans are in­ter­est­ing crea­tures, and al­though their per­ceived knowl­edge of the world be­lies their ac­tual knowl­edge, I re­main fond of them in gen­eral. Most humans I have en­coun­tered think them­selves atop the King­dom An­i­malia due to their speech abil­ity, equat­ing in­ces­sant chat­ter with that of higher learn­ing. Per­haps they un­der­es­ti­mate the power of op­pos­able thumbs.

Then, there is my hu­man, Owner Dear, of whom I am ex­cep­tion­ally fond. Hav­ing a hu­man is a life­long com­mit­ment. She needs me. She can­not de­tect — as I — the sub­tle changes in pheromones, adren­a­line or breathing pat­terns which alert me to a vast ar­ray of in­for­ma­tion not trans­mit­ted vo­cally. I know when a guest is ap­proach­ing, or if one is anx­ious or ill — or about to be ill even if symp­toms have yet to de­velop. She re­al­izes not the ex­tent to which she soaks up traces of her en­vi­ron­ment, from which I can de­duce her ev­ery step made with­out my ac­com­pa­ni­ment — al­though thank­fully those steps are rare. Her hear­ing is like­wise im­paired, for she can­not dis­cern ve­hi­cles, foot­steps and feral cats to the ex­tent as I.

Even when Owner Dear uses her words, I have learned to re­main sus­pect. I needn’t charge the door when she says, “Let’s go.” In­stead, I await her on the land­ing, for she has un­doubt­edly for­got­ten her keys on the ta­ble and her lip gloss on the dresser, and she will re­turn mo­men­tar­ily. As she passes me, she will roll her eyes and scratch my ear, say­ing, “Aren’t you the smug one?” as we then leave to­gether. I en­joy that im­mensely.

I see Owner Dear has re­trieved her keys and is head­ing for the door with­out her lip gloss, and I must po­si­tion my­self on the land­ing. I have en­joyed our time to­gether. Un­til next we meet, please be good to one an­other, and re­mem­ber, we quadrupeds know things. Leather footwear is al­ways best.

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