Doglish 101 ~ May 12, 2016


Sam here again to finish up the dog behavior ‘explainin’. This graphic describes it fairly accurately. But in true Standard Poodle form, here’s my take on each one.

  • Relaxed – head high, ears up ~ If you see me in this pose, you can pretty much figure I’m getting ready to go someplace – whoopee – I so love going places!
  • Alert – eyes wide, mouth closed, ears forward, tail wagging ~ because I’m 99.99% of the time über happy, this is my usual pose and means I’m ready for the next person to come along and pet me.
  • Play bow – tail wagging, mouth open with tongue exposed ~ this pose is for when I think mom is gonna play ‘grab the toes on the dog’ game. It’s also a precursor to my pogo stick jump or when I get ready to pounce on toys. A boy’s gotta sneak up on some of those stuffies-you just never know what they might do.
  • Rocking horse run ~ Mom said this was Jackrabbit loping on me. Wait, what…are there Jackrabbits around? Would someone please tell me where because I love chasing Jackrabbits!
  • Tell-tale tongue – contented and relaxed ~ tongue and lips are loose and flappy. I’m smiling here in this one and it means I’m waiting for you to tell me where the rabbits are!
  • Low, fast-wagging tail ~ My tail almost never stops wagging but I’m told this means some dogs might be anxious. For me, it could be I heard something I’m not sure of and can’t specifically identify it. Then again it could be a rabbit turning on some gravel waiting for me to catch up to him, right?
  • Excited and happy – mid-level, fast and wide-wagging tail ~ Woo-hoo, we’re gonna go looking for rabbits…I just knew it!
  • Stay away – ears flat, lips pulled back ~ this isn’t a pose that I’ve assumed but some of my fur-iends have. I just look blankly at them, wag my tail and try to get them to chillax. Life’s too short to be so crabbish in my poodle world.
  • Digging ~ sometime I feel the need to scratch the carpet in mom’s studio. This is a reminder that she should fluff up the carpet so it’s standing up nice and fuzzy. A boy’s needs some cush under his tush.
  • Butt sniffing ~ well duh…that’s where all the information is located. It’s my way of saying “Hi there, nice to meet ya-now let’s go looking for rabbits.”
  • Upright, forward ears ~ this means I’m focused directly on what’s in front of me. Often it signals I just saw a rabbit and is a clue to mom to hurry up or I’ll start pulling. That or I can’t believe I’m seeing some of my besties in the neighborhood and can’t wait to say hi. Then again, you could be holding a piece of cheese in front of me. You guys all know I love cheese, right?

So…what kind of stuff do you do when you’re out and about? Any of these look familiar to you?

Live, love, bark! <3

Doglish 101 ~ July 16, 2015

I'm a what?!

In the complicated world of communication between humans and canines, it’s apparent I pretty much don’t know jack. As in nada, nein, nyeht, zilch and this fact is constantly reminding me of that given the looks I receive whenever I speak to Sam. Anyone who’s been a parent to a pouty hormone laden teenager knows THAT look.

  • Exhibit A: In our household, the command for “let’s step on it and move” is “chop, chop.”  In Sam’s brain, ‘chop, chop’ apparently means “ooh, look, a butterfly, I should check this out more closely” or more frequently it will mean, “I’ll do it in my own sweet time when I feel like it.” More often than not, it’s when I’m in a hurry or trying to balance sacks of groceries while maneuvering the door with a knee and making sure he gets inside so I don’t trip over him, kill myself in the process and spill everything all over the floor. Sam apparently views this time as open season to aggravate the parental unit judging by his slow-mo reaction.
  • Exhibit B: Let me set the stage here. There is a split rail fence around our front yard garden and we’re on a corner lot so there’s lots of real estate. “Stay in the yard” apparently means, “well only if you really, really want to” because no sooner than the command is spoken, I see Sam sauntering down the street on some scent trail or to say hi to a neighbor out walking past. When I holler at him to “get back in your yard” he gives me such a look of disdain I’ve not seen since I first grounded my kids when they were teenagers. After giving me the stink-eye, he ever so casually walks back into the yard with more disdainful looks over the shoulder, not even pretending to feel any kind of remorse.
  • Exhibit C:  “Off” can be a wonderful command (in theory) that can be used to keep pets off furniture, people, and lovely flowering plants. The other day I said “OFF!” to Sam as he gave me that hither may come look over his shoulder whereby he turned his head in the opposite direction and promptly lifted his leg on a peony bush. Argh!!! What part of “OFF” do you not understand dog?!

I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that dogs can be bi-lingual. I’ve witnessed dogs who understand commands in German, English and Spanish. I’ve also come to the conclusion that something clearly gets lost in translation where Sam is concerned. It tends to revolve around what his agenda is, not so much what I want him to do or not do. I’ve joked about Sam being the ‘simple dog’ over the years, but as I reflect on his behavior I think he’s far more stubborn than he is dumb. And because of that, I need to find a translator because currently, Sam isn’t interested in learning English. Anyone know of a dog translater up for the task? I’ll even grant that I may be part of the problem, but as this hound gets older, he becomes more and more challenging. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s really a Standard Poodle or a more likely a substandard poodle. 😉

Live, love, bark! <3

Doglish 101 – June 11, 2015

It has occurred to me that Sam and I speak totally different languages. I understand English for the most part and he understands some other language that I’m not familiar with completely. And so this post is the inaugural edition of “Doglish 101,” a semi-regular column here around the Ranch that’s designed to help us figure out what the devil is going on in those communications with some of the more ‘intransigent’ hounds who shall remain nameless at this point but whose initials are Yosemite Sam.

008Oh sure, most of the time he gets “sit,” “stay,” simple stuff like that. But as we all know from a recent rant post, sometimes the wires seem to get bizarrely crossed. I’ve wondered whether my dog could be hard of hearing? I know I am with certain sounds and it’s not that selective hearing thing-no, it’s probably more like listening to extra loud rock & roll music as a teenager (heck I still like like my tunes loud so in my case, it’s not all that surprising that I’m half deaf). Sam on the other hand, well I think is either (a) just plain stubborn as all get-out (b) developmentally slow or (c) in need to of learning the language spoken by this humanoid.

Take for instance, the command “up.” When I say it, at least in my mind, I mean Sam should jump up on the sofa, or bed, or whatever and land with all 4 feet on said surface. What I don’t mean however is for him to start bouncing up and down like a cotton pickin’ pogo stick and hopping up on desks with all four feet like he recently did at the hospital. That command would be “feet” where during our training sessions, I lifted his front feet up onto a surface, provided loads of praise and lots of treats to get those brain synapses to fire in his little pea brain and associate the command with the physical act. It seemed so simple, its worked many times before, and yet, what he obviously hears is “jump up on this desk and embarrass the ever-lovin dickens out of Mom.”

Then there’s that whole thing about the command “come.” Sure Sam comes on command 99% of the time. That 1%, well that gets a little tricky. It’s like he is either thinking “Pfft, yeah not in this lifetime lady, I’ve got pee-mail to read and smells to check out and I’d rather not” or “La-la-la-la-la-la, I can’t hear you with these paws in my ears.” When it suits him, he’ll come a-running, nearly crashing into me and then he turns into a silly wiggling mutt that seems to defy all possible forms of normal anatomy since it appears he has some sort of special hinge in the center of his back that vacillates back and forth like a Slinky toy. He’ll run up and then lean hard against my leg. Clearly he’s not prepared to be any kind of service dog to help out with balance issues and I have to brace myself to keep from falling over. I know I should be grateful he came, but…it’s not quite like how I pictured it in my mind and obviously a failure to understand Doglish. 😉

So tell me…is it just me not fully understanding the complexity of communication or have I entered the Twilight Zone of ‘Doglish 101?” Does it even matter?

Live, love, bark! <3