Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jul 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Dog Days Aren’t Over

ae dog1‘Inside of a Dog’ encourages readers to stop and smell the roses

I used to merely go for runs with my dog. Not that that was a bad thing—my vivacious Australian Kelpie needs the three-mile jogs as much as I do. But after reading “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” by Alexandra Horowitz, we’ve begun to intersperse our athletic pursuits with outings of a different persuasion.

We now go for “smell walks,” where Toby’s nose is in the lead, and I follow along as he tracks the invisible history of each creature that has passed by every bush on our route. I let him urinate on fence posts, and I even indulge his yearning to roll on the ground in all but the most offensive-smelling places.

Smell-walks are just one of the ways that Horowitz invites readers to participate in the world through the eyes—or, rather, nose—of a dog. A cognitive scientist who researches dog behavior, she explains in her book how the biology of the domestic dog shapes its perceptions, and what this means for our relationship with it.

Bookshop Santa Cruz has chosen “Inside of a Dog” for this month’s Community Book Group. The group meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 16 at the store. Bookshop Santa Cruz will offer a 10 percent discount off the cover price through the meeting date.

The meeting will include a panel discussion with Dr. David Shuman, DVM and Linda Puzziferro from Santa Cruz Animal Services, as well as tea and cookies—both for dogs and their owners.

Julie Minnis, facilitator of the group, chose the book in part because the timing was right for Santa Cruz’s increasingly pet-friendly ambiance, and because it transformed her outlook on her canines.

ae dog2“If you get into the mind of the animal—the mind of the other—it’s amazing how your view of the dog changes,” she says.

And that’s exactly what Horowitz had in mind when she wrote the book.

“I’m really delighted when people write to me and say they’re looking at their dogs in a different way—because that means that now they’re looking at their dogs,” she says. “I hope people spend more time observing dogs, letting a dog’s behavior tell you what they’re thinking and feeling.”

She calls this method the “umwelt” approach, inspired by the 20th century German biologist Jakob von Uexküll.

“His idea was that the animal lives in its own sensory bubble,” Horowitz says. “We all see something different in the world based on our sensory equipment. We have to try hard to think not only about what the animal is thinking, but what the animal’s biology is and what that means for their constraints on what they see and smell and hear. They sense things we don’t even know exist.”

For Shuman, from Santa Cruz Westside Animal Hospital, the “umwelt” approach changed the way he relates to dogs.

“One of the most profound changes for me (was understanding that) we evaluate everything with our eyes; dogs, on the other hand, smell everything,” he says. “It’s such a simple thing—dogs stick their faces in everything. It’s simple, yet profound.”

Horowitz explains the acute olfactory perception of a dog by describing an experiment where researchers put trace amounts of sugar in a test tube. Dogs have such a keen sense of smell that they can perceive sugar diluted to concentrations equaling a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized pool.

“The cells committed to the nose make their brain as smell centered as ours is vision centered,” she explains. “They have (a keen sense of) vision, but then they also have all this richness in the way they perceive the world in smells.”

Understanding a dog’s olfactory perception is just one way that Horowitz gives readers a glimpse into the “umwelt” of a dog, and perhaps will urge them to interact with their dogs in a less human-centric way. Besides smell-walks, she suggests that people let their dogs smell and lick them when they walk in the door. She advises against too-frequent bathing of our dogs so we don’t deprive them of their scent, and overenthusiastic house cleaning.

Asked about the new fad of TV for dogs, Horowitz said, “It’s not a substitute for giving your dog something to do, but it’s better than nothing. Now if there was a smell TV, that would be really great.” 

The Community Book Group will discuss “Inside of a Dog” at 7 p.m., Monday, July 16 at Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. The meeting will include a panel discussion. Dogs and their owners are welcome. 423-0900. See GT calendar for more July Author Events happening locally.

Photo: Vegar Abelsnes

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Binding of Edmund McMillen

How a Santa Cruz designer created one of the most unlikely hits in video game history

 

Sun in Leo, Rosy Star, Venus and Uranus Retrograde

Three major celestial events occur this week. Wednesday, the Sun enters Leo, highlighting the heart center of everyone. Leo is a sign of deep sensitivity (along with Cancer). Wednesday is also the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. Saturday, July 25, Venus turns stationary retrograde at 0 Virgo (progressed Regulus, the Law, Hall of Records). Venus retrogrades for 44 days and nights, forming one petal of a five-pointed rosy star (pentagram) in the sky (five retrogrades over eight years = star). Venus retrograde turns values upside down. Our usual sense of beauty, values, the real price of things, relationships—all turn into a bundle of confusion. We don’t seem to know anything. Luxury goods are mispriced, values are jumbled, we wonder who that person is we’re in relationship with. We don’t know where our money is or where it’s gone. Venus, in daily life, represents values (resources, money, possessions and quality of relationships). Venus retrograde asks, “What do I value?” Venus retrograde puts us in touch with what has changed and what is truly of value in our lives. Venus retrogrades from 0 Virgo to 14 degrees Leo (July 25-Sept. 6). Leo is about the self and our creativity, which is how we come to know and value ourselves. We “know ourselves through what we create.” In Venus (values) retrograde (inner focus) we will ask, “What are values (not just money and finances)? What are my values? What do I create? How do I value my creations? Do I value myself?” Sunday, Uranus—planet of all things new, revelatory and revolutionary—also retrogrades (from 20 to 16 degrees Aries) until the full moon of Christmas Day. Five months of Uranus retrograde. In July and continuing on through the following months we have many planets retrograding. Things therefore slow down. Everyone’s focus becomes subjective, hidden by veils and curtains. A time when inner reserves of strength are available. A time of protection.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 24

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

AJ’s Market

Local cult fave keeps getting bigger and better

 

What do you think of Bernie Sanders?

He’s what we need, more hardcore Democrats. Old-school, ’70s-style Democrats. Tony Dolan, Santa Cruz, Freelancer

 

Hunter Hill Vineyards & Winery

Calling all Merlot lovers—Hunter Hill has released its 2013 estate Merlot ($25)—and a superb one it is, too.

 

Turn Up the Beet

Golden beets with buffalo mozzarella, plus single-malt whiskies and award-winning local Chardonnays