Secrets of the Snout: The Dog’s Incredible Nose (Hardback)

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Frank Rosell
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University of Chicago Press

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Dogs and humans have worked side by side for thousands of years, and over the millennia we’ve come to depend upon our pooches as hunters, protectors, and faithful companions. But when it comes to the extraordinary quality of man’s best friend which we rely on most, the winner is clear—by a nose. In Secrets of the Snout, Frank Rosell blends storytelling and science as he sniffs out the myriad ways in which dogs have been trained to employe their incredible olfactory skills, from sussing out cancer and narcotics to locating endangered and invasive species, as well as missing persons (and golf balls). 

With 300 million receptors to our mere 5 million, a dog’s nose is estimated to be between 100,000 and 100 million times more sensitive than a human’s. No wonder, then, that our nasally inferior species has sought to unleash the prodigious power of canine shnozzes. Rosell here takes us for a walk with a pack of superhero sniffers including Tutta, a dog with a fine nose for fine wine; the pet-finder pooch AJ; search-and-rescue dog Barry; the hunting dog Balder; the police dogs Rasko and Trixxi; the warfare dog Lisa; the cancer detection dog Jack; Tucker, who scents floating killer whale feces; and even Elvis, who can smell when you’re ovulating. With each dog, Rosell turns his nose to the evolution of the unique olfactory systems involved, which odors dogs detect, and how they do it. 

A celebration of how the canine sense for scents works—and works for us—Secrets of the Snout will have dog lovers, trainers, and researchers alike all howling with delight. Exploring this most pointed of canine wonders, Rosell reveals the often surprising ways in which dogs are bettering our world, one nose at a time. 

Frank Rosell is professor in the Department of Environmental and Health Sciences at University College of Southeast Norway, where his research explores the chemical communication of mammals and how it can be used in species conservation.

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  • 5
    The Secrets of the Snout

    Posted by Mary Deal on 28th Feb 2019

    No story in The Secrets of the Snout emphasizes the importance to the dog of its sense of smell as that of the fate of the dog born with no sense of smell.

  • 5
    Secrets of the Snout

    Posted by Mary Deal on 26th Feb 2019

    I bought this book on the advice of my late, great, rescued, geriatric Dutch Shepherd, Jiri. Last fall when I attended a basically Dutch Shepherd/Schuzthund examination, I heard the spectators evaluating the dogs, so I wondered how dogs evaluate people. Diane Weinmann, a 3rd generation animal communicator, has been an invaluable connection between Jiri and me. Everything she's reported from him has been verified from others who knew and trained him before I came along. Jiri reported dogs have five ways to evaluate humans. He elaborated on these; I'll be succinct. 1. By smell; 2. Closely study the eyes & mouth; 3. Note the gestures & the tone of voice; 4. Read the mind, especially to 1-3 isn't fruitful; 5. Read the heart, though only after a long association. With that background I read the first sections nodding in agreement, saying to myself, "sounds right." This is a compendium, a first cut, of research and experiences from around the world. There are also conjectures for future research. An illustration of the nerves in the dog's snout would have been useful; there are no illustrations. This is an eminently readable translation from the Norwegian, although there's one stumble on p.185. No such animal as a Canadian goose, just a Canada goose. This will particularly interest dog lovers who've had working dogs, such as Jiri & I did in S&R practice. Anyone with more than a casual interest in dogs will find parts or almost all of this worthwhile. Guaranteed. It comes Jiri-recommended.

  • 5
    Secrets of the Snout

    Posted by Deb Graber on 26th Feb 2019

    I just got the book and therefore only read a few chapters so far, but it's fascinating!