2012-08-15 / Columnists
Pets Pets Pets
It was supposed to be a simple fourth anniversary of Edgar Afghan Poe’s deliverance from evil. Maybe a walk in the park and later sharing a steak with his canine siblings, but no…. Edgar and Halle, his Afghan Hound partner in crime came up with an odiferous way to mark the occasion.
“Let the good times roll” for lack of a better name. And roll they did. On Sunday morning August 12, exactly four years since Edgar came to stay with us after being airlifted by Afghan Hound Rescue from the crazy New Mexico hoarder who crammed 67 Afghans and 25 parrots into a tiny house, both my hairy hounds decided to commemorate Edgar’s “Got Ya” Day* by rolling repeatedly in either “eau de renard” or “eau de raton laveur” which their long snozzes joyfully discovered in the yard.
You may be wondering if they stumbled on fancy French perfume. Not a chance. Afghans would never roll in Chanel #5. Nor would they dab it behind their silky ear fringes. Instead, they found the droppings of a wildlife intruder. Something enticing, such as souvenirs from a red fox (which has repopulated on LI) or a raccoon, attracted both full-coated goons who kept flopping themselves down, nose first, in their smelly treasure trove until they were coated in a sticky stink. A westerly wind sent all of Cleveland a whiff of the dirty duo, but folks in Ohio didn’t have to clean up the mess. I got the privilege of doing so before breakfast.
It’s times like this that I wish I were a Beagle maniac. Shorthaired dogs are so “wash and wear.” You spray them with the hose, or dump a warm bucket over them. Then towel them off, and they dry in a jiffy during the summer. I gave two Last Hope shorthaired pups from West Virginia tub baths last week and was amazed to see the water bead off them in the sun. Drying took minutes, whereas an Afghan cleanup is a laborious process. A full grooming takes a few hours. Spraying water or conditioner on this mess would actually make brushing out the gunk more difficult, so we relied on the grooming table and an assortment of tools- two pin brushes, two slickers, three de-matting rakes and lots of elbow grease.
When and how do dogs roll in malodorous matter? Some say that the behavior is a throw back to wolf ancestry. According to Wolf Behavior 101 online: “Scent rolling is the act of pressing the body against a strong-smelling object or scent. This behavior usually begins with the wolf pushing a cheek against the object, and then sliding on it until the side of the chest has cleared the object. The wolf will likely stand and repeat the process several times on each side of the body.
Wolves commonly perform this behavior with any strong or unique-smelling object within their territory, such as a smelly carcass (food), urine or feces from another animal outside the pack, or any other pungent odor encountered that is not a regular scent within their territory.”
This is precisely the wiggle worm dance that Edgar performed as if he were under a spell, but nothing on the grass was visible to his furious human audience.
August 15, 2012, AMITYVILLE RECORD • 9
Usually my dogs are in the woods when they get the urge to rock n’ roll (probably on top of something dead) but it is easier to stop them in the act when they are on leash.
Why do dogs scent roll? Again Wolf Behavior 101 postulates: “For wolves, the answer is simple: olfactory camouflage. We believe wolves are essentially transferring the scent of the different odor to their bodies so when hunting their prey may not smell wolf, when in close proximity of the hunting pack. They may be able to gain closer access to their prey. Another theory for evolution of scent rolling is to transfer the scent of the rolling wolf onto the object chosen, thus “marking” it as an item within their territory.” You wonder if some breeds, especially ancient ones like sight hounds are more apt to perform this strange, rudimentary ritual.
Whenever I brought an Afghan home for the first time, the newcomer would attempt to scent roll on our first walk as if he were trying to welcome himself to the neighborhood. Whether masking their own scent or claiming the objectionable odor as part of their territory, it’s odd that any dog with a nose so much more powerful than ours would enjoy soaking up stink like a sponge. Doesn’t the awful smell bother them more than it bothers us?
There is a legend that Afghan puppies are born with the scent of jasmine in honor of a kind Persian princess, and that some hounds retain the haunting odor for the rest of their life. Tell me. Where was that Afghan jasmine scent this morning when I needed it most?
For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon- This cute kitty in the lobby is part of a polydactyl litter. He and his siblings have extra toes. “Snookie” #12-215 a playful Pit/Shepherd isn’t looking for a place on the Jersey Shore. She just wants a loving home.
Dogs: female Peke; black Chihuahua mix; “Manny” Havanese with a blue eye; “Romeo” #12-35 representing the Pit Patrol.
Cats: longhaired “Maxine”; Siamese mix “Snowbelle”; “Mr. Man” looks like he is wearing a wig.
*Note: “Got Ya” Day is an affectionate term used to celebrate the date when a child or pet was adopted.