Dear Dr. Zeus:
I love to roll in stinky things! Especially if they are dead. But for some reason my parents get very angry with me and wash me off right away. I don’t understand why they do this. Why am I so drawn to stinky things?! “Stinkin’ Lincoln” Labrador in NE
Never fear for your desire to roll in stinky things is completely natural! Rolling in something smelly such as some kind of carcass or smelly matter is a way that we “wear” our territory, it lets other dogs know what is ours. Comparatively, if you rolled in some horse poop and wore it around it would be a lot like one of your humans wearing jewelry. It shows off what is yours and makes you look nice. Although I do not think that humans feel the same way about our scented accessories of choice!
This is a great situation that illustrates how humans and dogs behave very differently but to the same end. Humans tend, and I use that loosely, to like clean and fresh while we dogs enjoy dirty and messy. But there is another reason why we are so drawn to roll in decaying matter. It is because, for as long as anyone can recall, we dogs have been scavenging for food. So any matter that even has a hint of digestible potential (prime or rotten) gets us really excited. Finding a dead animal or droppings releases endorphins because it means there could be a potential meal around the corner or that we have in fact found a meal. Most of us are not too picky about what we digest! Sometimes the stinkier the better!
But all scientific matters aside, sometimes we just like the way it smells and different scents appeal to us. What smells revolting to some, smells wonderful to us and if something smells good, why not roll in it?! I, personally, am not much of a “roller” but I do enjoy the smells. My sister, Prada (who helps me with my column sometimes), has a great nose. If she picks up on an odor, takes a good whiff, and lifts back her front paw daintily as if pointing, you know it’s especially stinky – I run over immediately to soak it in.
Rolling in stinky things is innately part of who we are and no amount of breeding can detach this aspect of us. So, Lincoln, do not worry you are behaving as any canine should! Just roll with it.