Somewhere in some office sat an executive in charge of brand management, wondering how to get his client into the news of the day. He had a flash: Some people don't like it when a strange dog drives their many-toothed head into their groinal area. It's a given. But how many? A survey must be commissioned!

Thanks to, we now know the answer: 66% of Americans are not comfortable having their lap department interrogated by someone else's dog.

OK. Good to know. But why do they do that? It's how dogs get to know you. We're embarrassed by the sudden intimacy of the act, but what else are they supposed to do? The dog is checking out other scents you cannot possibly discern, what with your dull dumb schnoz.

You can't even smell the soap you used this morning, but to the dog it's like he's downwind from an explosion at the Irish Spring factory. Alas, the dog does not know it is Irish Spring. The dog does not think, "Humanly, yes, but I like it, too." Most of what the dog understands is other creatures and food, so its quick interrogation of your scents is like this:

Human, sugar, sausage, milk, no idea, no idea, no clue, bird poop, can't place it, don't ask me, some cat, wait — no — lots of cat, pee, pizza, pizza box, pizza delivery guy, pizza delivery guy with pee on shoe, some dead bugs, some live bugs, no idea, mouse, yogurt container, wood, grass, car.

Or, as a dog would call it: a first impression.

The other day, I came back from the store and Birch was inordinately interested in my right knee. As far as I knew, my knees had not seen any action while I was out and about, but I had bought meatloaf. Sealed in plastic. Then drove home tapping out the beat of a song on the radio on my knee. The moment I came home his brain was flooded with the aroma, and that's all I was to him at that moment: You have meatloaf knee. Where is the meatloaf?

We're taught to introduce ourselves to dogs by holding out a fist for them to sniff. Imagine if the social interactions of humans worked this way. No need for the usual stilted introduction — just thrust your clenched face in someone's face. The other person's nostrils flare, and then they relax:

"Hey, I'm picking up craft-brewery ingredients, weed and beard wax. How do you like living in Northeast? Can you wave your fist in my face again, I missed a few things? Ah — fear, anger, cigarettes and Taco Bell. You OK?"

"I'm fine. I was at Taco Bell yesterday, and I was a little mad because the drive-thru took forever, and for a moment I thought I'd lost my wallet, hence the fear. The drive-thru attendant had a smoke break two hours before."

"I picked up some Spanish cork on your thumb. You interested in Iberian wines?"

"The cork was Spanish, but it's domestic. You can tell just by smelling the glue on the label."

The survey also noted that 63% of dog owners are uncomfortable when Fido goes in for the big sniff on a stranger, so relax: If you're mortified by a strange dog's search for your hip-zone whiff, so's the owner.

This sums up humans well, no? "We love dogs!" Also: "Dogs, stop being dogs!" I'm sure they feel the same away about us. • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks •