Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace. - Milan Kundera (b. 1929), author .
Well, Kasey got his big start in the... eh... amateur ranks today, with some achievement at a local Fun Match. He took third in Rally and second in Obedience. Ooooh, ribbons! Both were at beginner level (on leash), but hey, that's okay, it's a "tune up."
He was a little nervous, and his attention wandered when he was supposed to be maintaining a good heel, so we lost points there.
But then I think that we got some points back when he impressed the judge with his Elvis impersonation.
I've been fascinated by play faces on dogs since getting started with digital photography not long ago, and noticing that there are many expressions that you miss in real time, but you see them when you review the images. Here we captured a few smiles(?) as we introduced Kasey to a new toy.
He likes the texture, the biting, squeaking and tugging. The colors are for our pleasure.
This post contains graphic images that may go unappreciated by the squeamish.
If you were ever that student who kept passing out in Biology class (and you know who you are), then you may wish to consider looking no further.
Years ago, when I was in college, I came back to the dorm with a stack of photographs that I had snapped at the Bronx Zoo. I liked photography a lot, and I was probably more eager to show off my photos than most of my friends were interested in seeing them. But I prevailed upon my roommate to look at my new zoo shots, and I handed him the stack of prints to look through at his own pace.
He muttered one polite comment after another as he flipped through the photos, until.....
"Eewww!! What the hell is THAT?"
The tone of revulsion sounded excessive. I assured him that it was only just an ordinary caiman or crocodile in the picture. But he continued to look puzzled and disturbed, which began to puzzle me.
Then I noticed the awkward way that he was holding the print.
So I suggested that he try holding it this way:
But I'm sure that he had difficulty reorienting the image in his mind. He insisted that the animal was not like any crocodile he had ever seen. Then I recall that he flipped through all the rest of the prints, but without any more comments. Sheesh!
Nowadays my portrait subjects have fur. That seems to help.
Well this is just great. Now I can't get dog pee out of my mind.
Anyway, it's no big news that dogs like to use their good scents in marking various locations with their urine and/or feces, sniff at the the locations marked by other dogs, greet new colleagues with a sniff of their anogenital regions (AGR), roll in wet odiferous matter and wear the fragrance into the house, etc. But humans just don't really know all the information that could be getting exchanged between dogs through scents (are they sniffing about us??), or how dogs actually choose the time and place for a pee or a sniff (smell art?).
Right now there's an interesting discussion happening on Trisha McConnell's blog concerning some new research on scent marking. It seems that one of the reasons they mark where they do could be because it can give other dogs a place to sniff them without intruding into their personal space to sniff their AGRs, particularly when they are entering a new area where other dogs are already gathered (thus avoiding being mobbed by multiple noses at once).
....or maybe it's just their way of sniff blogging. .
Last weekend my wife and I visited a liquor store. She was looking for some red wine and I wanted some white. Neither of us had anything more particular than that in mind. Then this bottle caught my eye.
dw: Look Honey! This wine has a dog on it!
Wife: That's nice, Honey.
dw: Isn't it cool?
Wife: Do you want it?
dw: I want to take pictures of it.
Wife: Pictures of it?
dw: Do you think it's good wine?
Wife: Get it if you want it, Honey.
We can become captivated by a thing that stays always a little bit out of focus, challenging us to find the right lens through which we can shape a clear vision. It tends to make us dizzy if it moves outside our depth of field. Or else it stays within the focal range we set, but then draws our eye first to the illusory images formed by the many reflections from it's surface, and then to the reshaped rays of refraction coming through it from oblique angles, and then to the shadows and colors. Our brain gets hooked on the visual puzzle. We feel that it is worth the effort to understand. And we know, of course, that in the opinion of many wise people, these intangible images are only a distraction, that really it is the inner substance that is more worthy of attention (and I did eventually drink the wine...it's not bad at all). But we are human, and a good percentage of our brain is wired for visual analysis, and we enjoy glitter.
I can't help thinking that dogs must feel the same way about odors as we feel about our images. Maybe if we could comprehend their smell art, then we would come to see dogs in a whole new light.....eh, I mean, smell them in a whole new scent.
dw is a psychologist and husband. He loves nature, and is most fond of his three dogs. His friends, colleagues and loved ones patiently tolerate his preoccupation with the mysteries and ironies of life.