Smell that? It’s science!

By Jeff Girod

Posted January 9, 2014 in News
JeffGirodDogs prefer to align along a north-south magnetic axis whenever they relieve themselves, according to a study in the journal Frontiers in Zoology. Called magnetoreception, the study reviewed 70 dogs, 1,893 poops and 5,582 pees. Sign me up for that!

But according to the Los Angeles Times, dogs aren’t the only ones who prefer to crap with a compass. So do birds, bees and several types of mammals.

“We discovered [by measuring Google Earth aerial pictures] that cattle align with the magnetic field lines a few years ago,” study coauthor Sabine Begall told the Times.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s crap. But if animals such as cows and dogs can’t cop a squat without hopping on an electromagnetic Bingo square, then can anything be random?

Every time you go over the speed limit or choose shrimp fajitas over chicken, or the reason you’ve always had a soft spot for Faith Hill, maybe none of it is choice. Maybe all of it is exactly the way it’s supposed to be—on some kind of giant invisible Connect Four grid.

Now I hesitate to use words like “preordained,” because even within religion there exists the concept of free will. But one has to ask, why are dogs spending so much time worrying about where they’re shitting? (The rest of us aren’t, or we wouldn’t step in dog shit.)

Consider this: From the time you pick up Rex from the pet store all of his shits have been pinpointed by some algebraic algorithm. Forget every New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made, every diet, every obstacle you’ve overcome, every award, or personal achievement—maybe we’re nothing more than a series of mathematic comparisons and magnetic quadrangles.

Sure, we do the best we can. We jog, moisturize, eat kale when we must. We do these things because they make us feel safer, smarter or provide some sense of accomplishment. But maybe I could sit naked in a 500-pound inflatable pool of fruit Jell-O and my life would turn out exactly the same.

Today I was diagnosed with a medical condition that affects ten percent of the population. Of that ten percent, one percent will suffer severe, often frightening hearing loss. I am part of that one percent. In less than two years, I have gone completely deaf in my right ear and my left ear is also quickly losing hearing.

The good news is a surgeon says an operation can restore most of my hearing. He even tried to reassure me with statistics: “It’s successful 99 percent of the time.”

Then again, statistics aren’t always comforting: Ninety-nine percent of people never require this type of ear surgery.

Odds say you’re more likely to die in a car crash than to die in a plane, but how many of us are afraid to fly? (I’m not afraid to fly, I just use the excuse to get the flight attendant to bring back the drink cart.)

Here’s the short answer: Screw the odds. You too, fate. Do what you think is right. Occasionally do what you know is wrong but it feels good. And if you’re smart, don’t ruin any of it with too much remorse.

And sometimes—call it coincidence, divine intervention or a miracle—some thing or moment will stick out. Hopefully, it’s not a dog turd.

Maybe it’s finding your one true love, a sunset, or some worthless quarterback who finally throws a spiral to win a big game. Maybe it’s a tough break that turns out to be not so bad after all.

There are moments in your life that will feel like they were touched by the hand of God. (Call God an “It” or “Mother Nature” if you prefer. I’m the one rapidly qualifying for a blue parking placard, so I choose to believe in an almighty ear-healing He-God right now.)

Just imagine some cold January night, a wet thatch of grass, and a doggie taking just a few seconds longer to line his nose up with his nether bits. That, my friends, is a miracle. And whatever else happens in this world, be it war, famine or another Fox news channel . . .

That’s beautiful. It’s poetry. Just don’t step in it.

Contact Jeff Girod at


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