Why Dogs Always Sniff Each Other

Once there was a grand convention, held in a sparkling ballroom with vaulted ceilings and gilded walls, and all the dogs in the world were invited to attend. Dalmatians, retrievers, collies, and St. Bernards; terriers, hounds, shepherds, and poodles: dogs of every pedigree came prancing or bounding or meandering in (as their temperament decreed).

Now, this being a convention of some distinction, certain formalities were observed. A team of Great Danes stood by the entryway and helped the guests to remove their coats. (For no one wears a coat into a ballroom, after all.) Soon, the coat closet was brim-full of furs: curly and straight, golden and white, coarse and sleek. Never before had you seen such a variety of colors and textures and shapes!

Then, after the dogs had doffed their coats, they entered the ballroom to find their bowls and plates. Dogs, as you know, are hungry creatures who love to eat. Therefore no one at the convention had troubled to plan boring preludes like slideshows or handshakes or speeches. Everyone had agreed that the best thing was just to start with lunch.

And what a lunch it was! Mutton pies and ribeye steaks; biscuits spread with marrow; uncooked trout and roasted salmon; peanut butter and blocks of cheese. It was a sumptuous, and very messy, feast.

But in-between mouthfuls (and gulps of water from the hydrant), a sharp alarm went screaming through the building. “FIRE! FIRE!” a German Shepherd howled, and suddenly there was a stampede of dogs rushing out of the room.

Barks and yips and yaps and whimpers filled the hall and bounced off the vaulted ceilings. The smoke appeared in clouds that were gray and thick. One little terrier in the back could be heard crying that her tail was singed. Everyone was making straight for the outside door.

Oh, but first the coats! The closet by the entryway was so dense with so many hundreds of furs, that it would have been impossible to sort out whose was whose. Every dog rushed in, grabbed whatever coat was in reach, slipped it on, and rushed out, into the cool, clear blue day.

The fire department was called, and the Dalmatians stayed behind to put out the flames. Meanwhile, the rest of the dogs could not flee the convention fast enough. They ran off in all directions, into alleys and apartment buildings, cafés and parks. There was no rhyme or reason to their scattered retreat.

Thank goodness, all the dogs escaped the fire unharmed (except for the poor little terrier, who had to have her tail mended by a nurse). But, in all the chaos, no one managed to claim his rightful coat. That is why, even to this day, you see dogs sniffing every other dog they meet. They are looking for their coats which were mixed up at the convention so very long ago.