Lent Project Day 16: The Scent of a Hooman

White Dog in an office cubicle, sitting on the floor anticipating a treat.
King Louie, $dayJob temple dog (Pre-covid)

When Child was in elementary and high school, and I was working from home, I noticed that Louie would come downstairs 5 or 10 minutes in advance of Child walking in the door. To the casual observer, it looked like he knew how to tell time. Given the schedule of naps and treats and naps and toys and naps throughout the day, how did he know what time it was, and when the return of his boy was immanent? Turns out, dogs tell time by the dissipation of their hooman’s scent. When the scent reaches a certain level of dilution in the air of their home, the hooman is due to return. Doggie knows the scent-level of his house. So what makes more sense – that a dog learned the construct of passing time, or he’s using millennia of olfactory training to understand his environment?

Now that King Louie is 12 years old, which is like Methuselah-age in human years, his perception of us is different. COVID shelter-in-place and mandatory work at home orders mean that he’s always got some hooman scent circulating around the Casa Di Swears. That said, most mornings, I wake him up to go outside. When he comes in, he scoots back upstairs for a 9 hour nap. Then comes down to see what he can forage from the hooman dinner preparation. Then another nap, and I have to literally go get him to put him outside before bed. COVID has made him secure in the hoomans that are around. He’s particular about attendance, though. If one of his hoomans are out, he can’t fully rest, so he sleeps in a place where our return will wake him – like the middle of a not-large hallway outside our bedrooms. He did this when he was a temple office dog, too. Until all members of the quad had arrived in the morning, he could not settle for the first nap of the day. Does that mean he can count to 4? Doubtful, but he does love the residents of the our quad enough to know when he’s gathered his work-pack, and he feels safe and secure once we’ve all clocked in.

How King Louie perceives his world, and how I perceive him perceiving his world are likely two very different things. I feel like that’s easily more widely applicable, too.

This Lent, may I not presume to speak for someone else’s experience, journey, or state of mind.

Extra Credit:

I’ve created landing pages for the last 2 years of Lent Project. You can access them from the Reflections Projects option in the menu bar. Happy reading, friends!

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