The comedy (and humanity?) of a poodle

I can’t remember where I read this, a tidbit in one of those dozens of dog books I devoured, but it was a line to the effect that “poodles, more than other breeds, have a sense of humor.” It’s one of those entirely unprovable statements that I have decided to take as truth. I’m thinking it was probably Stanley Coren, because it sounds like the kind of thing he’d say, but the point was that poodles enjoyed practical jokes and liked playing tricks on their humans. Who can even say if this is even remotely true, but I like believing it, and I have harbored a fondness for poodles (especially standard poodles) ever since.

LouieWe flew from London to Boston this past weekend and were kindly provided housing for a night in the charming town of Hingham. Louie, a miniature poodle, was one of our hosts.

Louie, at his human mother’s admission, is a very sensitive dog. She says that unlike their previous dogs—labs and golden retrievers, who preferred lying around with dazed expressions—Louie gets up from his throne and sits near his people and seems to be listening to their conversations. He watches his human’s face with deep concentration, and I dare say, anthropomorphically, he had such a human expression on his little fluffy face.

Louie in Hingham
Louie, listening.

My husband agreed, saying that our dogs look so much like dogs (i.e., wolves). Their happy faces are dog-happy faces, and their intense faces are dog-intense faces. But Louie? His happy face seemed to be a human-happy face.

With Louie in Hingham
Here, however, Louie’s human-like expression says, “I neither like nor trust these goons.”

I know this is all crazy-pants, but these are the kinds of things that run through my head when I am with dogs.

Do you think that certain breeds approximate human emotions more than others?


4 thoughts on “The comedy (and humanity?) of a poodle

  1. Hmmm – I really don’t know that I have seen that many dogs truly approximate human motions I more tend to see the difference between dogs which just have a total constant expression (and I’m sorry to say but I have two labradoodles in mind – both quite intelligent on the basics but they just always seem to have a generic fairly happy expression a bit like that far side joke about the red setter if you’ve ever seen that…) and dogs which seem to have much more nuanced happy, sad, nervous stressed. Tala definitely shows all those expressions very clearly though the ears help! I also need to write back to your English dog musings as I found that very interesting!

  2. Louie is cute, and it seems a fitting name for him. I swear my girl is a moody, pushy bitch at times, much like me, whereas my boys tend to have a more happy go lucky attitude (most of the time.)

  3. Very interesting to think about, a dog’s sense of humor. Or lack of one. In a way, I can think of more things a cat might do to “be funny.” Dogs do things to “be happy.” They seem like they think some things are “cute.” Some humor seems to come from a mean-ness that dogs lack, (but perhaps cats don’t). Thanks for the food for thought.

  4. I can tell you without question that my Standard Poodle has fantastic sense of humor! Sometimes I think she tricks me into thinking perhaps she is human. She loves playing tricks on us and seems to deeply communicate with her eyes. She’s half human?? Indeed.

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