“The Minimum 37 Pieces of Flair…”**

Scroll down to the video clip for something a little different (and turn the sound low):


It amuses small children, but the trick can also either make things better or far worse when you are in heated squabble with a friend, spouse or partner. The air crackles with tension, steam is practically billowing out of your ears, you’re so angry with this person. You’re standing eyeball-to-eyeball with them – and suddenly, they flare their nostrils.

They are either very brave, or know you well enough to know that the subsequent nanosecond of stunned silence will be followed by laughter – or the slam of a door.

The person who flared their nostrils at you has learned how to contract their nasalis muscle. It’s a handy trick used to increase airflow through the nose during a physical workout by, say, a weight lifter, or, as in the aforementioned scenario, it can be used to diffuse tension or elicit laughter.

You know who doesn’t flare their nostrils as a party trick?

A Pointer. Shorthaired, Longhaired, Portuguese, English, Spinone, Vizsla – you get the idea. And the people who hunt with these breeds recognize that unlike our friend in the video, flared nostrils mean something relevant.

There is nothing quite like a Pointer on point; Rigid stillness and an erect erect tail are the most obvious signs of a dog hat has picked up a scent, but look more carefully and his or her nostrils will be flaring. The purpose of this widening is to enhance the dog’s ability to take in more air which allows the dog to detect the scent of game off the wind, and in which direction. It’s a thrilling sight for Pointer owners because it so vividly illustrates the dog’s natural abilities, which is to say its purpose.

Pointer do have something in common with the video man: They both use their nasalis muscle to contract and cause their alar cartilages to dilate and open their nostrils wider. We’re not so sure a Pointer can do it on command,  but who knows. Perhaps a good trainer armed with a clicker and great bait?

We haven’t gotten so animated over flared nostrils since Hot Lips said to Frank*, “Flare your nostrils for me, Frank. I get so excited when you flare them.”  Fans of the TV series, M*A*S*H* will have recognized this line from Episode 4 of Season 7, “Our Finest Hour.”

** Warning: Obscene gesture in the link ahead. Our post title is a snippet of quote from the movie, “Office Space: “

Image: German Shorthaired Pointer by WilleeCole Photography/Shutterstock

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