It was one of those wonderfully mild January evenings. Wintery weather was on the way and there was a rush to get the dogs out for one last long walk before bitter cold kept us indoors.
Down the steps we went. The wind was picking up. Jada lifted her nose high, breathing in a smorgasbord of scents, most of which I couldn’t smell. I heard her nostrils moving, taking in every scent she could inhale. She paused, holding her right front leg up, ears perked, nose held high….something had her complete attention. This was snouting at its very best.
I like taking all the adoptable dogs out for a snouting when they come into the adoption program. During a typical snouting I learn a lot of valuable information about the dog that helps me match dog and adopter – observing body language, how often the dog “checks in” with me, seeing what things the dog seems to be attracted to sniffing, learning how comfortable or fearful of the environment the pup seems to be – a lot can be learned on a seemingly simple walk in the neighborhood.
So what’s a snouting? It’s experiencing the world all around through the nose of a dog. It’s more than just a walk. Walks are nice. A snouting is an event. On a snouting I learn from my canine companion while she explores the environment. Some dogs are too fearful of their environment to snout. That is heartbreaking. Others are so excited to be outside that they dash all about frantically sniffing as much as they can. Dogs were designed to experience the world through scent more than any other sense.
On a typical snouting I watch my canine companion explore. Some dogs seem to consume the scents around them, pausing for long moments to thoroughly investigate some patch of grass or tree. Others casually sniff plants, grass, trash as they walk by, never pausing for very long at one spot. Others, the ones who are confident, find utter joy in everything around them, the plants, the street, the breeze – everything in the world provides interesting information for them.
Until I fell in love with a deaf and blind puppy I knew nothing about snouting. My dogs only went for walks. We enjoyed our daily walks, but in hindsight I know now that I missed a lot and so did they. While I learned to how to communicate with my deaf/blind puppy (she was 3 months old when she burst into my life) she taught me the value of a good sniff. Our walks became events as we explored the world together. She showed me a world I had never thought about, she showed me the value of slowing down and breathing in the world. Since our first snouting adventures I’ve been mindful to take all of my dogs – fosters and family members and now Crossroads Pets’ adoptable dogs – snouting from time to time.
On that night Jada snouted for the first time with confidence – for a brief moment the fear subsided and she enjoyed just being a dog. That’s my signal to say good-bye to Jada. She’s ready for HOME. Jada is still learning about life, but she has a good foundation to build on…and she needs to build a life with her person, not just a temporary family. I’m proud of Jada and the progress she’s made. She’s a fabulous canine companion who’s waiting to go on a good long snouting with her special person.
To learn how you can can adopt Jada, or one of our other adoptable pets, contact Crossroads Pets 615-712-9758.