Several years ago a friend of mine John took in a beagle from a rescue shelter. Snoopy lived with him for less than two weeks. John was an avid hiker and took his new friend with him, before John knew it Snoopy had run off. John was concerned because Snoopy had only been in John’s home for a short time and was not familiar with the streets or neighbourhood. After three days unbelievably he found his way home, he walked over 15 miles from the wooded area where he went missing.
How is it possible?
Another story about these incredible Dogs, happened years ago involving a friend of mine. He took two of his Beagles rabbit hunting. When he got into the woods, the dogs picked up the scent of a deer and were gone. In an effort to bring the dogs back to the original location where they took off my friend removed his vest from under his jacket and placed it under a spruce tree. . Night was falling and a decision was made to resume the search in the morning. After returning the next morning sure as the sun rises, both dogs were found curled up on the vest. How amazing is that!
There are several more cases of both dogs and cats somehow navigating their way home with little or no previous clue or idea of where they are. Imagine as a person being dropped off miles from your home, no cell phone, no map, no person to ask directions, no extra warm clothes, no water , or food and having to find your way home.
What advantages did Snoopy and these other dogs have? Did they just get lucky? Unlikely!
First off, dogs have highly developed senses that are far superior to their masters. Their sense of smell is far better than any humans. Dogs have between 200 million to 2 billion olfactory sensors in their noses. We have all heard of cases where dogs have alerted their owners of gas leaks or dogs used to detect cancer in patience by sniffing, or border crossings with dogs able to detect contraband just by walking by a suitcase.
Whereas in Humans we only have 12 to 40 million olfactory sensors, Seems like a lot, but not in dog standards. 15 miles seems far but not if you can smell your way home. Dogs rely heavily on their noses for recognition and navigation. Humans instead rely more on sight.
Catching familiar scents in the breeze that can travel well beyond 15 miles is not out of the question, if you’re a dog. Watch your dog when you are walking them. Pay attention at how many things and how many times their nose plays a role in what they do next. Watch how your dog navigates, whatever route you choose, even an entirely new one, your dog always seems to know which way to turn if headed towards home.
Watch them around a Fire hydrant, mailbox, posts, hedges these are all areas of interest. Your dog is navigating the neighbourhood with a virtual smell map. Different and overlapping smells of other dogs, other animals, humans, garbage cans, all help to paint a clearer picture of where your dog has been and where it’s going.
Although a dogs sight is not the primary means in determining where it’s at, dogs do use their sight in creating a visual map of their environment and neighbourhood as well.
Trusting the power of your dog’s ability to smell his or her way home can give you reassurance.