Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Matter of Taste

For the past several moments I've been sitting here contemplating the many wonders of a dog's tongue. (Okay, so I'm in weekend mode.)

It's a crafty tool, that tongue. Think of everything it does for the system: It manages temperature control, brings food and water onboard, gives full-body baths, decides that blue cheese should be swallowed and strawberries should be spit out, applies first aid to wounds, and offers other creatures a nice wet handshake.

While we humans are bragging about our opposable thumbs, our dogs are using their tongues to "tsk-tsk" at us in pity. 

Only recently, though, have I realized how dogs rely on their tongues to experience texture as well. And moreover, they harbor opinions about the textures they perceive.

Awhile back, I began to notice that after eating peanut butter, our dogs would feel the need to wash up--to lick their legs for awhile. Until one day when my lightbulb came on. They weren't using their tongues to wash their legs; they were using their fur to scrub their tongues! My best guess is that when offered a bit of peanut butter, the doggie tongue finds itself in all-out turmoil. The taste buds go crazy for the flavor, while texture-sensors recoil at the feel of it. 

If you haven't already, you may want to take a moment to watch the above video--our documentation of The Great Peanut Butter Experiment. Take special note of Rose's face and body language after she's eaten her peanut butter. Her conflict is visible. Though she would never refuse another tasty scoop from the jar... another part of her brain is hoping she will have no more peanut butter thrust upon her.

I'm not yet sure of the offending property. Is peanut butter too greasy? Too sticky? Too gritty? Further testing is called for (and anxiously awaited by half of both dogs). I did, however, read a comment online by a woman whose dog "always licks his leg after eating peanut butter or squirt cheese." I hope no one ever tells me what squirt cheese is; the question is delightful.

Anyway, here's the only scientific conclusion I've reached so far: I'm quite certain I'd rather have peanut butter residue coating the inside of my mouth than a thick sheath of dog hair. That said, I rarely look for treats at the bottom of the garbage can or try to lick the dirty spoons in the dishwasher. Vive la difference!

Today I'll take some time to appreciate the body I've been given and its many wonders. The senses that stimulate my brain, the strength and mobility I enjoy, and how much I could accomplish in this world by maximizing its full potential.