Second Chance: Do You Smell Sad?

Second Chance: Do You Smell Sad?

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been serving San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose Counties for 27+ years. Call 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the emergency response, community medical, spay/neuter, volunteer, or other services.

View shelter pets and services online:

Second Chance veterinary clinic is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Call (970) 626-9713 or email

Donate here.

Go here for more options from Second Chance.

Go here for more on Dr. Shari DePauw of Second Chance. Veterinary services are available.

Are dog noses emotion detectors? We know that dogs have a formidable sense of smell. It’s estimated that an average dog has 600 million smell receptors (compared to only 12 million in you). But can a dog smell things other than food, toys, and each other? Recent studies say yes. They can smell stress, depression, sadness, and grief.

Dogs can smell the production of various hormones and brain chemicals. Dogs can smell the rise and fall of serotonin (a brain chemical associated with depression). Dogs can also smell cortisol, which determines our anxiety level.

Scientists in the UK and Italy independently proved that a dog knows if you’re anxious or stressed – and his nose is the key. Stress changes the compounds found in human sweat and breath. In the UK study, when presented with samples from humans before and after a stressful mental exercise, 90 percent of the test dogs could detect which came before and after.

Knowing you’re depressed, sad, or stressed is impressive, but how does your dog react? We know dogs have the highest level of empathy, which is why they have the label “person’s best friend.”  Studies have observed that dogs immediately pay attention when they sense a change in their owner.

Dogs engage in emotional mirroring when they sense unhappiness. For example, your dog may have his head bowed and his tail tucked, acting as if she’s also sad. Some dogs may lick your face to wipe off tears, whine, or whimper.

They also may spend more time next to you. Most dogs will simply walk to you and sit by your legs, waiting to be noticed. Once they draw attention to themselves, they lean in, not expecting to be petted, but simply being there. If they cannot draw attention slowly, they may try to distract you by inducing a game of fetch.

Dogs can be emotional absorbers, making your energy their own. If you’re sad for too long, your dog can also get sad. Be alert if your dog seems to be withdrawn, eats less, and loses interest in the usual activities he enjoys doing. All that may tell you your dog is depressed. If this happens, it’s your turn to support him. Go for a walk or visit a friend with another dog to help both of you start to feel better.

When they sense the decrease in hormone production, they feel better about the situation and return to their normal behavior. When your dog gives you licks and cuddles while you’re crying, hug him because he’s doing his best to make you feel better! If you liked how your dog gives you emotional support, let her know by giving him treats and scratching her belly. This way, she’ll do it again when you need it.

Just another way pets make our lives better.

My name is Aya. I am a one-year-old husky mix. I’m healthy, active, silly, playful, and friendly. Are you entranced by my captivating blue eyes and a fluffy curled tail? I think I’m a perfect Colorado dog, ready to join your hiking, camping, and cross-country skiing adventures.

AND… To continue the Second Chance Highlights section, we want to share the following:

Montrose Daily Press counted over 80,000 votes and named 2022 Best of the Valley winners!

Second Chance was voted Best Animal Shelter. What an honor, and a heartwarming testament to the support we have in our communities.

Sometimes second place is just as exciting. We were named runner-up for Best Nonprofit and Best Resale Shop. 

There were 20 nominees in the Best Nonprofit category. All are respected organizations that are doing incredible work to help others.

Our thrift shop is a fun place to shop, and it provides so much of our funding. We’re thrilled to be named runner-up in the Best Resale Shop category!

Thank you for your votes, and especially for your support for our work.


Fun event coming up on October 14th at Telluride’s Wilkinson Public Library

Yoga with Kittens!

Led by Chrisanne Schworn of Lovesauce Yoga

Stretch your body while snuggling some of our adoptable kittens

Guaranteed to be good for your body and your heart.

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