Our canine companions provide so much in our lives - they can provide comfort when we're feeling low, make us laugh, get us outside to enjoy the great outdoors... But, they also have some incredible attributes that don't fall too short of, dare I say, superpowers?!
- Hearing - dogs' hearing is twice as perceptive as ours. They can move their ears individually which means their range is larger. If you're watching TV and your dogosaur walks into the room, he may move his ears to try and decide whether you're talking to him or the voice he hears is coming from the TV. Not only can dogs hear frequencies almost twice that of human ears, they can also hear sounds approximately four times farther away than humans.
- Smell - as most of us know, a dog's sense of smell is much better than ours. But you may not realise how vast the difference is - a human has about 5 million scent glands, compared to a dog, who has anywhere from 125 million to 300 million (depending on the breed). Ever wonder why your dog's nose is wet? The mucus on a dog's nose actually helps it smell by capturing scent particles. When a dog’s nose is dry they may lick it to aid them in scent. They can smell pheromone, which is not only found in the urine and faeces, but on the skin and fur. From this they can tell a lot about another dog or human including if they are male or female, what they have eaten, where they have been, what they have touched, if they are ready to mate, if they have recently given birth, and what mood they are in. This is why we are able to use them to sniff out cancer, drugs, dead bodies, bombs, diabetes, seizures (warning their epileptic owners before they occur) - you name it. If that isn't a superpower, I don't know what is!
- Whiskers - canine whiskers are very sensitive to changes in air currents - this means they can tell a dogosaur about the size, shape and speed of nearby objects. Being able to feel vibrations in the air also helps dogs sense approaching dangers. You should NEVER trim your dogs' whiskers as this can lead to confusion and decreased spacial awareness.
- Psychic powers - OK, so maybe not technically psychic but dogs do use eye contact to work out what your next move is. I for one can vouch for that one - if Patch is watching me, he knows when I'm about to move every time (though he does always think this means a walk... one track mind).
- Detecting natural disasters - I'm sure you've heard one or two stories of dogs acting strangely before earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes or other natural disasters. Although the evidence is inconclusive it would appear that they can potentially sense the event before it occurs. So if you're dogosaur starts acting strangely - whining, pacing, biting, howling - maybe turn the weather channel on just to check... National Geographic have written an article on it if you fancy a read.
- Natural GPS - Dogs are often able to find their way home, even from long distances - they don’t need to have walked the route before to be able to find their way back, so how do they do it? Not surprisingly, a lot of this internal GPS is due to their supersonic noses. If your dog is in familiar territory, they are able to follow their own trail back home. Don’t worry though; your lost pup will do just as well in an unfamiliar territory by keeping a nose out for familiar scents. Once they identify a familiar scent, they are able to follow it until they find another familiar scent, eventually making their way home. Don't use this as an excuse to let your dog off the lead with poor recall - they're not all descendants of Lassie!
So - there you have it. Dogs are confirmed superheroes.