The Boss's Dog

Pheromone parties for humans? Who’s kidding who?

By The General

"This is the sort of party you would love, General," the Boss said the other day, sniggering away.

He was reading something about these pheromone parties that are all the rage - so he says - in New York, Los Angeles and in London. And now in Australia.

"Humans are trying to take a leaf out your book - but they might need a bit of your help," he said.

I'm waiting to heard about any party I would love. I get suspicious when The Boss says things like that because it usually means he's pulling one of my several legs.

He reckons people at these shindigs are asked to wear a singlet or top of some kind for several days in a row, then zip it up in a plastic bag.

These all get laid out in a line at the party, with a number on them, divided up between girls, boys and others - and everyone starts sniffing. (The Boss shudders slightly when he reads this out - he can remember being in London as a young bloke and cramming into a train carriage on the Underground in the middle of summer.)

Now, I'm okay with that. So far. 

The idea is for people to find a smell they like, then find out who it belongs to. If there's some mutual affection for the other's smell, you have a mate. That's the hope anyway.

"So you'd have a fine old time, General," he says. "Sniffing a couple of hundred garments to find something interesting."

But he's missing the point, of course, as he often does.

The thing is, we dogs don't just sniff to find a particular mate. We sniff to find any mate. And we don't need something in a plastic bag - we can smell a dog on heat up to five kilometres away.

See, we dogs have around 300 million receptors in our noses, whereas you lot have about six million - so we're roughly 40 times better at smelling stuff.

And stuff means everything. Like, when I run my nose over another hound (starting at the rear end) I can tell pretty much what its been eating, how old it is, the kind of house it lives in and the sort of owners who pat it. It takes about five seconds.

But that won't tell me if its a nice dog or not. I have to watch its tail (wagging is good, rigid isn't so good) and the hair on its back. If that doesn't help, a low growl will tell me something. If I ignore that, it could be on for young and old.

With humans we can tell a lot more because they smell a lot, and every human smells a bit different. Alex Horowitz, who wrote Inside of a dog: what your dog sees, smells and knows, put it this way:

I couldn't have put it better myself. I can smell when a human is frightened - their adrenalin makes a handy pong - or when they are anxious or upset, because their higher pulse rate and blood flow prompts a sharp increase in their scent.

Humans dont find this as easy: they can be misled by some shifty character who smiles and charms them. Doesn't work with dogs.

So I can't see the point of going to the next pheromone party, unless there is food for me, of course. In which case I'll go. Perhaps you should take me with you and put my handsome snout to work. Here it is when I was smelling the bottom of a puddle a while back. Woof.