Anatomy of a Dog’s Laugh
While many humans may see dogs as limited in our emotions, if you truly know a dog, you know that we each come with our own personalities, or as I’ve referred to it often, “dog”-analities. While humans study the body language of other humans, true dog-lovers know that canine body language is a powerful indicator of what we are saying.
Take, for instance, little Ollie. When we take him to the field to play fetch, he’s not that interested in playing fetch. Rather, he follows Gretchen around and stands as close to her as he can possibly get. And then he looks, with his hopeful eyes, watching for any movement from Gretchen that communicates to him what he should do next. He is attentive when allowed to roam free and often, hugs closer if he hears a sound that frightens him.
I, on the other hand, am also attentive, but when I am startled, I bark and run toward the thing that startled me. Not Ollie. He tucks in closer whereas Lucy ignores it all — oblivious to all hazards, she is solely focused on fetching the ball.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that much can be understood about each of us, if you pay close attention to things like our body positions, our ears and tails, and most importantly, our smiles. Our smiles, as you can tell from Ollie’s above, are each uniquely different and we each smile at different situations in different ways(see photos below). They are, as humans have said, a window to our souls and today we had lots of soul-exposing windows!
Okay, enough philosophizing. Today was a great day that started off with a solo walk — just me and Gretchen. We went to the lake and I got to swim and swim and swim in addition to practicing my “wait” command for agility. I’m getting pretty good at it. Gretchen and I made a deal that when we go on solo walks (which I suppose are really duo walks) she won’t photograph me. I appreciate that. I want her focused on the fun we’re having and not on the camera. Of course, this means no photographs of me being the diving and swimming star that I am.
After our walk/swim, we had breakfast — she had oatmeal with fresh blueberries and I had my usual with last night’s chicken leftovers. Yum. Then we walked up to fetch Lucy and Ollie and along the way ran into Nini, one of my favorite aunts. Nini teaches at the school nearby and she had her class out at the park when we came by. Gretchen handed me off to Nini while she went to retrieve Ollie and Lucy and soon, we were on a walk and Nini snapped our photograph. It’s rare that Gretchen gets in the photo, but Nini was amazed by Gretchen’s leash handling abilities and wanted to get a photograph. So thanks, Auntie Nini. Maybe next time, I can get my photo taken with you!
We decided to head to the little field to play some fetch since I’d already been swimming and Lucy isn’t much of a swimmer. We had lots of fun a the park and the best way to share it with you all is through photographs (okay, I’ll admit it’s a good thing Gretchen brings her camera on these outings!).
First, Lucy played fetch, but this is when things got interesting. As you can see, she does not have her yellow tennis ball in her mouth. She has my orange and blue ball.
How, pray tell, did that happen?
I was pretty tired from all the swimming so while I played some fetch, I mostly hung out in the shade with Ollie close by. I kept my ball close because I know Lucy covets it.
Ollie could care less about my ball or any ball for that matter and since it was warm, he found the shade quite delicious, too.
So Gretchen threw the tennis ball over and over for Lucy who retrieved like a machine, dropping the ball at Gretchen’s feet and begging her to throw it again!
Occasionally, Ollie gets up and frolics around a bit…but mostly, he hangs out by Gretchen or by me…
So there we were, hanging out in the shade when Lucy comes up and starts staring at me. Here, my friends, is a good time to notice the differences in our body language.
Can you see the innocence in the first photo, the alertness in the second, the trust I exhibit in the third? “Just try it,” I’m saying and well, guess what? She did, but she waited patiently for her opportunity.
Ollie provided it…he decided he’d had enough sitting in the shade, enough waiting for Gretchen to offer him a treat and he tackled me. Next thing I know, we’re in a wrestling match and my orange and blue ball is lost…to Lucy!
What’s a dog to do? Luckily, after the wrestling match (that I let Ollie win) it was time to go home so we leashed up, Lucy gave up my ball, Gretchen put the camera away and we all headed north into the sunshine.
After Lucy and Ollie were dropped off, we headed south again to get Gemma. Now, talk about body language…Gemma has it in spades. She was raring to go when we got to her house and so we took a long walk through the park, across the street to the other park, and then we came back to our house since everyone needed a drink of cold water. It’s pretty warm today.
Besides, Gretchen said that Gemma had asked to play with me at home and well, since she is a paying client, we couldn’t very well say no. So into the backyard we headed after our cool drink of water and what did Gemma do? She hung out in the shade by the rock wall. It took a bit of enticing to get her to engage, but once she did, we went at it like we usually do!
Yes, I’ll admit…I was tired and hot, but I still had lots of fun. The only thing that would have made it better? If Gretchen had filled the pool, but Gemma is still recovering from her surgery and we decided it was best not to get her healing stitches wet. Instead, we got to drink from the hose and Gemma really liked that! And then we began our game of chase. Woo, that was fun!
And then we wrestled some more…
And then…well, I’ll let our body language speak for itself…