Saturday July 08, 2017

Encore: This author tried to learn to sniff like a dog

Smell like a dog 0:52

Listen 13:25

(The original broadcast was on Saturday November 19, 2016)

To some people, the world can be divided into two groups: dog people and non-dog people.

The author of the new book, Being a Dog: Following the dog into the world of smell, certainly falls into the dog people category. When Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, who runs a dog cognition lab at Barnard College in New York City, was writing her New York Times bestseller, Inside of a Dog, she became enraptured with how dogs take in the world. 

She says they do it through scent. And that got her thinking. 

Alexandra Horowitz with dog

Dr. Alexandra Horowitz and dog. (Vegar Abelsnes)

Yes, dogs have 50 times more olfactory receptors in their noses than we do. And yes, where we can tell if there's a teaspoon of sugar in our cup of coffee, they can detect a teaspoon of sugar in a cup the size of two Olympic pools.

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But she wondered, if she trained her own nose, could she develop her own sense of smell to become more like a dog? 

book cover: Being A Dog

In her new book, Being a Dog, Dr. Horowitz explores all the details that make dogs such great smellers, then applies those lessons to further develop her own sense of smell. She meets with professional smellers, sommeliers, perfumers, even scent tour guides, as she hones her own smelling abilities.

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