Something was in our yard last night. I don't know what it was, but the dogs do. All four of them. This morning I had all four on leash, and as we walked out of our front door, they nearly pulled me over. For once they were all pulling – very strongly! – in the same direction. The usual morning drill is to meander outside in a snarl of leashes, each dog searching for the perfect place to pee. Not this morning, oh no...
This morning, all four dogs headed straight for the first spot of intense smell, about 40 feet (12 meters) outside our front door. At that special spot (where I could see or smell absolutely nothing), all four dogly noses tried to get to the same tiny little patch of ground. They were arranged in a perfect cross, 90° apart, jostling for the best access to that spot. They seemed neither particularly excited or afraid, just interested. Only after they'd had their fill of inhaling whatever molecules they could, vacuuming up everything useful – only then did they decide to pee. Right there, on that spot, one after the other. There's a message there, but I'm not sure what it is.
The rest of our morning walk was a series of high-speed dashes between other spots that were just as intensely interesting as that first spot. A trail of them led down our driveway toward our gate. As we got near the gate, it dawned on me that the dogs were going to straight out the gate and into the hills unless I did something about it, so I started yanking them back. This was not as successful as it normally is. Finally I tried a slightly subtler tactic: I pulled them sideways, off our driveway and into our yard. This worked. Once I got them going sideways, I yanked them sideways again, and got them headed back toward the house. Two 90° turns was feasible; a single 180° turn was not.
The march back to the house was another series of dashes between delicious spots that needed vacuuming. One other spot became a “pee target”. I've no idea what made those two particular spots targets, while the others weren't. I also have no idea what it was that came into our yard, and to within 40 feet or so of our house!