Most of the time in Buffy, I didn't blink at any absurd characteristic they gave a monster, but I started laughing very hard during "Lover's Walk," in which untransformed Oz--that's the resident werewolf, who could have a nice snarky and laconic conversation with Lupin, for those of you who aren't BtVS fans--stopped the van he was driving, and from inside it, announced that he could smell the fact that he was near Willow (his girlfriend). He was in the car. She was in the basement of a factory. Granted, it wasn't in an urban area, but there would have been a lot of scents. "She's scared," he explains of this astounding olfactory feat. Cordelia, with whom he's traveling, says it's creepy. I, who adore Oz vastly and am, despite all subsequent developments, a big Willow/Oz fan with fantasies of a romantic blue-haired reunion in Istanbul, was practically busting a gut laughing at it.
Because he's not transformed. Because a highly developed sense of smell is part of the physiology of the canine, not just its psychology. There's no way, when the moon isn't full, that Oz was smelling Willow through concrete and metal from the distance of a road to a factory. No. Way. In point of fact, I don't think he could do it in those circumstances even if he was transformed, because it would be too complex a situation even for the wolf to smell it through the car exhaust, macadam of a parking lot, and old factory smells. Then again, he wouldn't be driving the car...
And yet when I write Lupin, I do have have him relying on his sense of smell more than I think normal people do, even when the moon is nowhere near full. I was just looking at I Hear Him Laughing, in which I have him go over to his book cases and start sniffing for a visitor he can't see.
Here's my reasoning, though I wasn't really thinking about it. It's not that Lupin has Super Smelling Sense®. I think that Sirius could probably do the same thing, and McGonagall has probably developed a good sense of footing--not because they have traits of the animals they transform into, but because they have the experience of transforming. Remus has had a chance to learn how to use what sense of smell he does have, in a way that people who've never had augmented smell wouldn't. More to the point, I don't believe dogs' eyesight is all that good, so he may have to learn to interpret scents. Because that's part of his working knowledge of the world, he's able to apply it even with his much "dumber" human nose.
Does that make sense? And if so, what skills might animagi be able to "transfer" to their normal forms?