Last October, a pet joined my family, which means I have been learning to cohabitate with another species. Now, I did my research before bringing the fluff-ball home. But reading about something differs from experiencing it. For example, when they mentioned shedding, I imagined a few dozen hairs escaping her daily brushing. I did not expect that, should my vacuum break, my entire floor would to be covered in two feet of solid dog hair. To be fair, she might be shedding her winter coat (although considering that our winter is about the same as our fall, spring, and summer, you’d think that coat would involve fewer hairs).
As I am adapting to the little foibles of dogs, my dog is adapting to those peculiarities specific to humans. For instance: sweat. This is only a guess, of course, since my dog still struggles with English. But the feet are the sweatiest parts of our bodies, and she seems fascinated by her humans’ feet.
Even as I write, I can feel the incredulity. “It isn’t unique to humans. If this is true, why are there sayings like, sweating like a pig?” English is funny, isn’t it? This phrase refers to iron. When smelting iron ore, the hot iron is cooled in these cavities called pigs. When moisture gathers around the pigs, the iron is cooled enough to handle. Hence, the saying has nothing to do with the animals called pigs.
Still, those who take issue with me referring to perspiration as a human trait have a point. A few other animals can sweat. Dogs and cats can release a small amount of moisture through their paws. To cool down, hypos seep pink liquid through their pores. (It’s pink because it contains an antibacterial.) Although not produced by sweat glands, we will count it. And there are horses whose sweat contains a natural deodorant that acts like a soap.
But while a few other animals sweat, only primates use it as their primary cooling system. The average person produces 1.5 gallons a day, and a person is capable of sweating as much as 4 gallons a day.
If you think about it, living with someone who walks around oozing liquid is probably as annoying as living with someone who sheds her body weight in hair on the daily. But humans try to be thoughtful. Unlike my dog who refuses to vacuum up after herself, we do things to mitigate our little problem. To address any smell, we wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Deodorant was invented in 1888. What did people do during the regency era?
Just like now, bathing helped tremendously. Undergarments were also a big part of dealing with sweat. A woman’s chemise was washed regularly, even if her dresses were not. This layer rested against her skin and absorbed any excess moisture. A third layer of defense was perfume. The ancient Egyptians used perfume and applied liberal amounts to their underarms, but it wasn’t until the thirteenth century that perfume started gaining popularity in Europe. By the Georgian Era, perfume was a necessity for the wealthy. Initially sold by barbers, both men and women would fill small sponges with perfume and wear these under their clothes. One shop, Floris, was so popular it began selling only perfume. This shop still exists today.