Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Pink Nose of Doom

In college, I saw my first diagram of the human sensory homunculus, which is a scale model of how much "nerve power" our brain devotes to our different senses, like touch or taste. Our feet and hands are REALLY big. So is our mouth and tongue. What I find intriguing is our eyes - they're not disproportionately large, even though sight is arguably the most important sense upon which we rely. How strange it would be if we looked how our brain thinks!

A dog's sensory homunculus would have to be all nose. Big, bold and the most important ability the canine world has to offer. It parses through the minutiae of the scented world and makes sense of it. I can't say I envy them this trait.

I have a strong fascination with dog noses, but particularly Mina's. For one, it's pink. Pink! She's homozygous recessive for that trait, for goodness sake. Not that that means anything, of course, but it adds a bit of pizazz to the discussion of her nose. Which I have all the time. Mostly with Mina, who is not just a superb sniffer but an excellent listener.

Mina's nose is always figuring out the world. It inhales, inhales, inhales, and sometimes when she finds an especially provocative smell, it exhales sharp, a slap of air against earth. I used to give Mina "nose walks" but we never left the front yard.

Now I just admire her perfect nose. Its properties of wet and soft. How it points toward what intrigues, fascinates or frightens her. The way it flexes and stretches every so slightly. Her nose is the first explorer, the primary discoverer. Her nose leads, and she follows perfect and content. I love that about her.

The Nose Knows

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