Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Smell of violence

When you see the new dog basket without Sophia inside, it looks enormous. But in fact, it's just right.

I'm constantly amazed by the way in which Sophia uses her sense of smell as a source of information about places and events in the outside world. When I take her with me in the car, Sophia lies on the floor in front of the passenger seat. She rarely props herself up high enough to see out through the car windows, and yet she knows constantly the key zones in which we're located. If I drive towards the edge of the Bourne River at Pont-en-Royans, Sophia starts to bark with excitement, because she looks forward to scavenging for bits of food dropped by picknickers. On the other hand, if I park in front of the veterinarian's place, Sophia refuses to get out of the automobile, apparently because she detects the smell of some kind of canine anguish.

At Gamone, the donkeys and the billy goat are usually about a hundred meters up the hill behind the house, and they're often partly hidden by shrubs. So, Sophia and I don't normally have a clear view of them. In spite of this, Sophia knows instantly whenever a mild squabble has erupted between the two donkeys (in the form of a biting match), or when one of the donkeys is fed up with the goat trying vainly to get up its backside, and lets loose with a hefty kick (which Gavroche always succeeds in sidestepping). As soon as Sophia detects any violence of this kind, she starts to bark furiously and looks at me with an expression of alarm, as if she expected me to intervene, to calm down the animals. I can only conclude that she must be capable of detecting what I would call a "smell of violence" that is emitted on such occasions by the donkeys or the goat. Or maybe there's some other explanation...

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