Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday for Mari

I've been reading Patricia McConnell's For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend. Brilliant-brilliant-brilliant! Now some people argue that dogs don't have emotions because they are animals. As if. As if they don't have brains with the same sort of neurotransmitters that humans have. I think these assertions are made by auditory people who think that just because animals can't talk, they can't feel. What's wonderful about Patricia McConnell is that she's a scientist, and backs up her information with a lot of neuroscience and other sciencey-type research. I found particularly fascinating the different physiological clues and facial expressions that dogs make that give us insights into what they're feeling or trying to communicate.  Pay attention to body posture; stiffness, leaning forward or back. A dog who bites out of fear has a different physiology compared to one who bites out of aggression.  

Humans and dogs have many of the same facial expressions, so I went thru a few pix to look for illustrations from the book. One of the first things is to look at the mouth; opened & relaxed (a dog's version of smiling) or closed, denoting tension. Here's Remi:

Hmmm . . . closed mouth. Also brow furrowed. I think he was thinking, "What?" 
Here he is, mouth open and he is leaning into me--all 145 lbs. of him!  Patricia McConnell says that dogs are not "huggers" like us primates, but I'm not embracing him full on or very tightly. I let him cozy up to me.
Remi in the center of the labyrinth. Mouth smiling.  He always came and joined me in the center of the labyrinth, and so I asked him to stay so I could take his picture. You can see him leaning forward wanting to come out.
Here's mama Barkley:

I always thought of this as a serious picture. Mouth closed. 
But here she is in the background with a happy, relaxed mouth:

And Remi resting his big head on Mum. He liked to do that.  :-)  "Yes, you're very sweet. Now go away," says Mum. "And you're not a dog, you're a horse."
Here's Albus, my sister's dog. Looking very happy sitting outside the labyrinth.

Here he is at the beach. Mouth closed, and looking a bit tense (or perhaps he's enjoying the breeze flapping his ears?) He went after a woman when he was off-leash that week. This was also the trip where he bit my niece. He was not a good dog to be around lots of kiddiewink noise.
And one of my favourite pictures:

Millie, mouth smiling AND eyes closed. Melting.  :-) 
Maggie & Millie, smiling with Mari. 
Patricia talks about "whale eye," a fear look where the whites of the eyes are showing. I don't know if  this qualifies, but Maggie was awfully patient and sweet with nephew Rowan:

Rowan's mouth open, Maggie's mouth closed. 
When I took this photo last year, I thought it was really sweet. Now I think Millie's not looking too happy. 
Maggie, 2011. Not so Christmasy-cheery. Sorry Mags! 

This was one of my favourite sequences of photos. I was outside taking Millie's picture. I didn't know what she was looking at, but she was watching Tabby Bobcat walking on the ramp behind me:  

I didn't know Tabby was behind me until!  I felt her jump on my back while I simultaneously snapped the look of surprise on Millie's face!

Yes, dogs show surprise the same way humans do: raised eyebrow muscles and the jaw drops down a bit.
And we'll end with more happy pix of Maggie & Millie:

Here are Millie & Maggie the first day I brought them home to the River House; sitting by the labyrinth.  :-)
SO happy sniffing for whatever rodent was under the river-dusty car!

Happy Millie sitting at the top of the ramp . . . 

Heh heh heh. Blocking Maggie's way--but she doesn't look too unhappy about it!
Millie's favourite spot at the River house; sitting in front of the living room window. Happy mouth,  & she sees SOMEthing fascinating in that field!

I'm leaving you with this picture of Maggie & Tabby Bobcat together on the front porch of the Lake House because it's just so sweet:

HAPPY Monday!

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