Tonight, children, I think I should tell you the real reason why dogs sniff one another.
~Aw, Poppa! Not again! We know that story!
Oh you do, do you?
~Yes, Poppa. The Lion invites all the animals to a big feast, but the pepper was missing.
~So the Lion calls on the Dog to go the neighboring town to fetch some pepper for the meal.
~But the Dog was so upset at being sent on the errand that instead of bringing the pepper back he decided to run off with the pepper.
~And the Lion became so enraged that he told all the other dogs that they would get nothing but bones for the rest of their days unless they found the one who never returned with the pepper.
~And from that day forward all dogs sniff each other to find the one who took the pepper.
~And they never found him, because after all this time that dog would be long gone.
~So all dogs are forever looking for something they cannot find.
~All a lot of bother for some pepper.
And you believe that is the real reason dogs sniff one another?
~That’s the story, Poppa.
~Yeah, you’ve told it dozens of times.
And so that is what you believe? You think that is the real reason dogs sniff one another?
( . . . )
~But if that’s not the real reason dogs sniff one another, why did you tell us that story?
What did you think the first time you heard it?
~I thought you were being a silly-head.
~I thought you were making it up to be funny.
But have you ever really wondered why dogs sniff each other? Did you ever imagine there might be another reason, a real reason?
( . . . )
~Is there a reason, Poppa? A real reason?
~Yes, Poppa, is there? If there is you must tell us!
~Yes, tell us!
In the beginning when all the creatures of the world were made the dog was the most mischievous. As they were created the others animals would wait patiently to be told their purpose. The elephants were given the duty record the earth’s history which was why they were given strong memories. Dolphins were given guardianship of all the fish in the sea which is why they swim with different schools and protect them. The birds were tasked to survey the lands from above and serve as living maps for lost creatures which they convey in their songs.
While the other animals were learning their place in the world the dogs would be off frolicking and generally not paying attention. Then just before it was time to enter the world the dogs ran around asking all the other animals “What are we supposed to do? Do you know what our purpose is?” None of the animals knew. But the cats, who had been charged to enforce the laws of their assigned kingdoms, decided to play a joke on the dogs.
“Your purpose,” said Tiger, “was given to the lead dog to be passed along to the rest of you.”
The dogs were dumbfounded. They had no idea which one was their leader.
“It shouldn’t be too hard to find the leader,” said Panther with a wink. “The one in charge smells like a leader.”
At this point the dogs all began to sniff one another frantically. The cats could barely contain themselves from laughing. The Leopard took it one step further.
“But once you find the leader the only way pass the information along to one another is line up tail-to-nose. It’s the only true way to know for certain that the information is true.”
And like an endless link of sausages the dogs entered the world tail-to-nose and continue to this day sniffing each other out to find the leader who knows their purpose. There is one further wrinkle to this story that concerns house cats. The cats we know as pets are descendants of various desert families and they didn’t think it was right to fool the dogs. Every chance they had they tried to tell the dogs that they had been lied to, but the dogs wouldn’t hear it.
“Your elders, the large cats, they wouldn’t lie.”
“Can you not see how they have made fools of you dogs? Do you not hear them laughing at you behind your backs?”
Which is why, to this day, dogs and cats do not get along.
( . . . )
I see that this story doesn’t please you as much as the old tale. Perhaps I was wrong to tell you, perhaps you were not ready to hear it.
~Is that really the reason, Poppa?
~Is that really why dogs and cats don’t get along?
It is the only explanation I know
~Were dogs ever given a purpose, like all the other animals?
I don’t know, children, I haven’t sniffed a dog to find out. I strongly suspect they don’t smell of pepper, but if you’d like you may find out for yourself.