Dogs pee for two reasons: to piddle or send a message. Considering that more than a million and a half gallons of urine are deposited daily in the US by roughly 57 million dogs, that’s a lot of information.
|Sending a message|
Odor, like e-mail, moves over great distances, remains in place long after the sender is gone, and hangs around until the sendee picks it up.
Urgent, special delivery, confidential, registered, return to sender? How do dogs ever sort it out? University of Colorado biologist Marc Bekoff found a novel way to “see” how dogs respond to odor, by examining yellow snow.
Scent-marking is differentiated from merely urinating by a number of criteria that include sniffing before urinating, or directing the urine stream at urine that's already.
During five consecutive winters in snowy Boulder, Colorado, Professor Bekoff moved nearly 400 clumps of fresh, yellow urine-saturated snow from place to place to see how his dog, Jethro, would react to his own urine and that of other dogs. (How people reacted to the Professor isn’t mentioned.)
|Professor Marc Bekoff and his assistant, Jethro|
|The science behind yellow snow|
Read the study:
Bekoff, Marc, Observations of scent-marking and discriminating self from others by a domestic dog (Canis familiaris): Tales of displaced yellow snow, Behavioral Processes, 55 (2001) 75-79.
|Scratch and sniff|