Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Smell (the sense of smell) (07/29/10)
TITLE: When Every Scent Counts
By Linda Germain
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“That’s it,” I announce, “We’re getting a Bloodhound.”
Uncle Lennie looks up from his jigsaw puzzle. His white bushy eyebrows remind me of little garage doors. Sometimes when he raises them in a silent question, my point drives right in. Other times, it drives on by.
“Mud, you say? Who found mud? Where?”
Oh my, he thinks I said mud found.
I wave my hand in his direction; our code for never mind, it isn’t important. He returns to the one diversion he loves--putting together a pretty picture. He doesn’t realize, nor care, how many pieces are missing.
Several studies claim mental-exercise can help us stay sharp to age 100 or more. To rejuvenate a wilting mind we need to engage in activities that require deductive reasoning, like board games. One book I read insists we can recharge our gray matter with small changes to stuck-in-a-rut behaviors.
“Be bold,“the author encourages,“shake up your brain. Try sleeping on the other side of the bed.” (I assume that’s if it isn’t occupied).
Our old three-story has quietly morphed into a boarding house for stray relatives and pets. Besides my understanding spouse, I have a whole litter of children, one hard of hearing uncle, a grandmother and her smarty-pants parrot she calls Agatha, plus Cousin Bernice and Chico, her cat.
Once in a while there are people I don’t recognize at the big round supper table. As long as they’ve washed their hands and don’t have a visible weapon they’re welcome to eat with us. Scripture says we never know when we’re entertaining angels; unaware of course.
Where was I…besides lost on a bunny trail about brains and relatives and menageries? Oh yes, contemplating a brilliant idea to find a dog whose nose is overloaded with those mysterious scent receptors.
My plan is to train him to find dirty kids and take them to the bath tub, deposit gym socks in the hamper, get rid of annoying visitors, uncover deception, find cookie stashes, and most of all, to locate my glasses and car keys the second I need them; that is, after he finds my other shoe.
During one of our nights at the round table I bring up the dog subject. Bernice is concerned that Chico might be victimized, or maybe traumatized. That girl watches way too many psycho-babble shows. My Gentle Ben of a husband doesn’t care what creatures live in our eclectic home as long as they behave themselves and there are no shenanigans. He hates shenanigans. Moreover; he expects each one to know which crimes and misdemeanors are covered by that funny, old-fashioned word.
Our darling new Bloodhound puppy’s massive paws seem to run in all directions at once. His cute floppy ears hang down like a 1940’s hairdo. I wait for months for his nose talent to kick in so he can sniff the ground like a little vacuum cleaner and pick up a clue, show the way, nail the bad guys. As it turns out, our happy, sappy Sherlock can’t find his own shadow.
We love him anyway, but I’m still endlessly fascinated by the powerful God-given scent-sense in those dogs. If they can detect the faint odor of a stolen child who passed by in a car days before, they should be on every police payroll in the country—have their own offices, parking spaces, retirement plans.
A thought-provoking idea nags at my fertile imagination. What if trained Bloodhounds could track down true Christians? What stench or fragrance might those high-powered noses expose in the pews? Would there be enough evidence of the Blood of Jesus for a positive identification?
The wonder of an animal’s inborn stalking device is a perfect spiritual metaphor for a serious question humans need to ask: Will the Hound of Heaven find us ready and waiting, or have we let the world neutralize our salty scent until we smell like everybody else?
Pondering this puzzle is the ultimate exercise for inquiring minds…and infinitely better than sleeping on the other side of the bed.
Author’s note: The story of the kidnapped child and the dog is true. It has stayed on my mind for months and generated many questions about this astounding canine gift. Hopefully, such an obsessive curiosity counts for brain exercise.
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