Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Nose Knows

A dog makes sense of the world around him, through his nose. Inside his nose are 125 to 300 million olfactory receptors. The nerves in the nasal membrane travel to a specialized olfactory lobe in the brain. In addition to that, in his nasal cavity, above the roof of his mouth behind the top incisors, is Jacobson’s organ. This is a vomeronasal organ that communicates to the hypothalamus and can detect pheromones.
One of my male goldens, Beckham possess scent discrimination that is impeccable and acute. He is the one that find treats in my pockets, where I thought there were none. He can detect a female in season, 5 days before there is any evidence. The resident doctor, he examines every dog in our home, looking for the most obscure hot spot. He can detect the tiniest tick under the thickest golden coat- I have finally learned to stop doubting his abilities. Anything out of the ordinary-- a small cut or skin rash-- he will find and "tend" to. He would be a great dermatologist! Other times, I envision him as a parfumeur createur; blending citron with bay rum & bergamot. Better yet, as an enologist with a glass of chardonnay that has,"pineapple and citrus notes-- buttery with toasted oak bouquet." He has turned perfect sniffing into an art form!
If you have never had the opportunity to watch the scent discrimination exercise in Utility, make it a point to do at your next show. How amazing is it, that the dog can find that one article with the owner’s scent on it, in a pile of metal & leather?
Like a pilot learning to trust the instruments, we as dog owners need to trust the dog. After all, the nose knows best!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pay It Forward

"In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those for whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody."
                                                               -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Scotland is the ancestral home of the Golden Retriever and Sir Dudley Marjoribanks (Lord Tweedmouth) is the gentleman credited with creating the breed. From the stud book & notes he kept to record each breeding, we know that in 1868, he initially bred Belle, a tweed water spaniel to Nous, a yellow wavy-coated retriever. His goal was to create a versatile hunting dog and 145 years later his dream still lives on. What would he think of today’s Golden? More importantly, how can we ever thank him? We can start by ensuring that this sporting breed endures. We can preserve and protect the golden legacy by giving to organizations that foster this. The Golden Retriever Foundation & the Gala-Top Twenty Competition at the annual National Specialty, raise precious funds for canine research.
Other notable organizations include the CHIC DNA Repository & The Broad Institute at Harvard & MIT. My girl Quinn, has generously donated her blood to both groups. As the owner, I am responsible for updating them with any new health problems.
This is a win-win situation for all, since both dogs and human share many of the same illnesses (cancer, diabetes, eye & thyroid disease). What we learn from one, helps the other. For our goldens, the goal is to reduce the incidence of inherited disease in dogs through research & new genetic tests.
Each generation of humans and dogs pays it forward. Most certainly, Lord Tweedmouth could never have imagined a future like this, for his beloved "yellow retrievers!" To learn more and find out what you can do to help, please click each organization.