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.
We 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.
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.
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?
We had a weekend with my family in snowy Ohio, and the girls were able to stay at our house with our WONDERFUL, saintly friends and their pup, Fiona, who you probably remember seeing in play-date pics.
While I very much missed our little monsters (more than I thought I would, ha! Absence makes the heart grow fonder… and forget the annoying puppy mischief-making), we enjoyed the company of Sadie, my aunt and uncle’s “corgeranian” (corgi + pomeranian).
Sadie is one of the happiest dogs ever. She may not be the brightest dog I’ve ever met, but this is also probably why she is the cheeriest. She doesn’t worry about anything! Sadie just wants to skip and hop and sleep on the sofa. Here she is comforting Guion, while he was battling a migraine:
I wish I had video of unbelievably adorable habit of hopping and flipping in the air when she’s excited (which is often). She was VERY excited to meet her cousin, a 3-month-old toy poodle named Bailey.
They played very well together, and Sadie was very gentle with him. Their play session showcased these two stuffed-animal-looking pups acting like proper dogs: play-bowing and chasing and grinning at each other.
Meanwhile, back home, our girls had a great time with Fiona in the house. Sallie was so sweet to send me photos throughout the weekend of their time together:
Fiona and Eden are, as you can see, BFFs, and they really get on well together. Pyrrha resorted to her typical moping behavior (in my absence), but she didn’t seem too fearful. I think the presence of the other dogs (and the fact that she knows Chris and Sallie well) was comforting to her. SO inexpressibly thankful for friends like these, who will watch our dogs for us when we can’t!
“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
— Samuel Butler
I like this quote; so sweet, and it mirrors the inherent playfulness and camaraderie of dogs with their people.
Thanks to you all for your characteristically great advice about Pyrrha’s recent licking fixation. DAP has worked for so many people, so we’re definitely going to have to try that. For now, she actually seems to be leaving it alone because of the Bitter Apple, possibly more because she hates having me come at her with the spray. But we’re monitoring the area closely.
It’s hard to believe, but this is our LAST weekend in this house! We’re going to spend it doing lots of packing and cleaning. And maybe have one of P’s dog friends over to wear her out while we work. We have lots of memories here; it’s the only house Pyrrha has ever known. (She spent her first year of life in a tiny cage in the breeder’s backyard.) I hope she will adapt to our new house with ease.
Wishing you all great Fridays and restful weekends.
I was TERRIFIED of dogs when I was a little girl. I remember when the fear began, and I think I’ve recounted it before. My father adores dogs, like I do now. When I was about 6, we were living in a tiny apartment, waiting for our new house to be built. A doberman (my father’s favorite breed) and a rough collie lived in the complex, and Dad liked to take us outside, just to watch the dogs play. One evening, I was completely knocked over and trampled by the dogs (who were just having a case of the zoomies, and not paying attention). I thought they were out to kill me, and I was extremely scared of dogs from then on.
But in a few years, some magical, inherent dog-loving switch turned on–I don’t even know what it was–and I became OBSESSED with dogs, kind of like I am now. I started memorizing dog breeds when I was 8 or 9. I gave complicated advice to the neighbors about what kind of dog they should get, based on their lifestyles. I started a dog-walking business, just to have an excuse to spend time with dogs, since my parents were reluctant to get us one of our own.
And yet I didn’t get a dog of my own until Emma, when I was about 14. I had to wait a long time for her, and I feel like I had to wait even longer for Pyrrha, but I still love to see little girls with dogs. It warms my heart.
All that to say, here are just some cute photos of girls and the dogs they love, culled from my Pinterest board, Woman’s Best Friend.
Just a few dog-related links from around the Web this past week:
Dog Breed Health. This is a comprehensive site with health profiles for almost every imaginable dog breed. What do you think about it? Do you think your favorite breed’s health profile sounds accurate?
Baby Ball. Lacey is obsessed with her little ball; so very cute. (Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey)
“Basket although now he is a large unwieldy poodle, still will get up on Gertrude Stein’s lap and stay there. She says that listening to the rhythm of his water drinking made her recognise the difference between sentences and paragraphs, that paragraphs are emotional and that sentences are not.”
— Gertrude Stein, from the perspective of Alice B. Toklas, in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (her punctuation and spelling preserved)
. . . . . . . . . . . .
I just liked this little passage from The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, as it reminded me that our dogs can sometimes teach us things that we don’t expect. Have a lovely weekend! We’ll be dog-walking for our rector and his family this weekend and I, of course, am looking forward to it (even though our rector’s wife told me it was regrettable that she couldn’t tranquilize the dogs for us; apparently, they’re quite a pair).
If the Characters in Downton Abbey Were Portrayed by Canine Actors… A friend shared this on my Facebook wall, and I just had to share it here, too. If you watch the period soap opera Downton Abbey, you will appreciate these comparisons. I think they’re pretty spot-on. Matthew is totally a golden retriever and Mary makes a lot of sense as a poodle. And, poor Edith! The Bedlington terrier! (Dogster)
How to Properly Care for Your Dog’s Teeth. Canine dental hygiene is usually pretty terrible, and, from my experience, it’s an easy thing to forget to take care of–and not exactly fun when you do. This is a thorough article, however, that reminds us all of why it’s very important to care for our dog’s pearly whites. (The Whole Dog Journal)
Investigating Halitosis. Related to doggy dental care, here’s a veterinarian’s list of possible causes of your dog’s terrible breath. (The Bark blog)
Where’s the Beef? Subtitle: “Why your dog should never eat another Milk Bone or Beggin Strip, and you should avoid the Slim Jims.” You won’t ever want to buy those products again after you read this article by Amy Renz. (Goodness Gracious Treats)
Identifying Merle. I grew up with a beautiful tricolor merle Australian shepherd and I’ve always had a fondness for merle coats, especially when they come from conscientious breeders. But I learned a ton from this post and learned that I’ve been incorrectly identifying some dogs as “merle” that really aren’t. Fascinating stuff. (Musings of a Biologist and a Dog Lover)
House Rules and Time-Outs. Aleksandra shares her wisdom about how they use “time-outs” to teach their newly adopted pitt, The Dude, some house manners. Great, gentle, and effective advice. (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)
Binq Design. If I was in the market for a tiny dog, and had a lot of cash to spare, I think I’d definitely consider these functional and attractive side tables + dog beds. They look like they’d be a nice place for a toy breed to hide out during family commotion. (Dog Milk)
Bambino vs. Fido: On Loving Dogs Less. Shauna, a pregnant blogger, reflects on how her relationship with her dogs will change–and stay the same–when she welcomes her baby into the world. I found this post very reassuring. As someone who hasn’t had kids yet but plans to one day, I confess I’m frankly terrified of the idea of emotionally displacing my future dogs. But, as she points out in this post, you don’t displace your dogs in your heart; you just make room. (Fido & Wino)
BFFs. Greyhounds snuggling on the couch. So cute. (Hiking Hounds)
Religious Dog Bumper Stickers. OK, pretend bumper stickers, but these still made me giggle. My favorite: “I’m Catholic but my corgi is affiliated with the Church of England.” (Dogs of the Interwebs)
As the days creep closer to our move, I’ve been thinking about how to restructure my day to accommodate a dog. I already worry about giving my dog enough time. A dog’s ideal human is someone who works out of the home, or better yet, someone who just lives there with them all day long and doesn’t do anything but walk, train, and love on said dog. This is a nice idea, but I don’t know anyone who has that kind of life.
I have a full-time job, but here are some things that I think are in my favor, with regard to scheduling and bringing a dog into our lives:
My office is a 6-minute drive from our new house.
My husband is a grad student and so his schedule is much more flexible than mine, meaning that he can often be home when I can’t.
I have a very dog-friendly boss, who has already said she’ll let me come home for an hour at lunch each day to walk the dog.
I’ll be done with work right at 5 p.m. and I never have to work late.
That said, I’m thinking a lot about our mornings. I have to be at work at 8 a.m., so my mornings start fairly early. Here’s the rudimentary schedule in my mind, on days that I don’t shower:
6 a.m. Wake up. Take dog on walk.
6:40 a.m. Feed dog/get self dressed
7 a.m. Pack lunch for self/eat breakfast
7:30 a.m. Play with dog/brief training or grooming/let dog out once more
7:50 a.m. In the car and off to work
Clearly, this is something that will have to be finessed once we actually bring a dog home and evaluate his or her needs, but I like to think about it now. It’s a weird form of daydreaming for my highly Type A personality.
What does your daily routine look like with your dog? I’m especially interested in hearing from those who also have full-time jobs. How do you manage it? Any recommendations?
Many people like to cite Stanley Coren’s now notorious list of “the most intelligent dog breeds.” People who have breeds in the top 10 like to remind other people of such and tease those who have dogs who fall anywhere below Coren’s top 10.
*Cited in his book, The Intelligence of Dogs. Links are to my “Breed Love” posts.
I think the problem with this list is the title. As many before me have pointed out, and as Coren’s own study acknowledges in the fine print, this oft-cited list measures canine intelligence by how quickly or effectively dogs obey humans. His study is a nice measure of obedience, but that’s primarily what it is. A more accurate title might have been “the most obedient dog breeds.”
Hounds rank very low according to this list, but that’s because Coren’s study cannot measure the independent-thinking and creativity that is employed by most hounds, especially scent hounds.
I’ve noticed this with hounds, even in my short tenure as a volunteer at the SPCA. Our SPCA has a ton of scent hounds, because we live in a part of the countryside that is popular with hunters who employ large packs of hounds and then don’t keep track of them if one goes missing. That said, I spend a lot of time at the SPCA walking hounds. These hounds are notably unresponsive to humans. They often seem to look right past you at something else (or, more accurately, at some other, more interesting smell). But this doesn’t mean they’re unintelligent; it just means they’re harder to train. These hounds are rather adept problem solvers. They figure out what they want then they plot how to get it, with or without any human aid.
Sight hounds, in my limited experience, are also very intelligent but prefer to follow their own direction. (The Afghan hound is famously ranked last on Coren’s list, in terms of what he calls intelligence.) When you ask a sight hound to do something, I imagine their internal response to be something like Bartleby the Scrivener: “I would prefer not to.” They are independent and self-directed and seem to weigh the pros and cons of following your commands.
Selfishly, I’ve always really loved dogs from the herding group, because these are some of the most human-responsive dogs of all (many in the herding group are in Coren’s top 30 “most intelligent” breeds). My favorite breeds–Australian shepherds, German shepherds, and border collies, to name a few–are incredibly attuned to their people. These high-energy dogs were made to watch human faces, study human body language, and follow human directives in their line of intense work. I’ll probably always prefer these dogs, mainly because they are so easy to train, but I think this just means that I’m lazy/afraid of how frustrated I’d get with a less responsive dog.
But at the end of the day, this list doesn’t matter. Because we know the truth: We all have the smartest dog in the whole world.
Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:
Shivapuri National Park Trekking. My crazy and adventurous little sister traveled around the world for six months, mainly in Nepal and India. While in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, she hiked in Shivapuri National Park. These are some of her photos. I include her post here because she said that she was followed for hours up the hike by the sweet village dog featured here. I love it, because it strikes me as a simple and beautiful testimony of the undying magnetism between dogs and people: We just want to be together. (Como Say What?)
Too compassionate? A young farmer reflects on being judged for leaving her dogs in the car for just a few minutes. The attached Portlandia sketch (“Whose dog is this?”) is totally hilarious, too. What do you think about this? Is it possible to be “too compassionate”? (Cold Antler Farm)
Moleskine Passions Dog Journal. My brother-in-law gave me this journal for Christmas and I, of course, am totally excited to get to use it! (Dog Milk)
Icons & Dogs: Marilyn Monroe. A collage of photos of Monroe with a variety of dogs. I just watched “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” for the first time this weekend, so this post piqued my interest. (Miles to Style)