As a companion animal, it is important that we dogs are able to read our human’s body language.
Since our people have drastically underestimated our ability to understand their language and have dumbed down their verbal communication with us to one-word commands and baby talk, interpreting human gestures and mannerisms is how canines figure it out. That is how this morning I knew something was up.
My Dude seemed unusually anxious to get going on our dog walk and didn’t head straight for the ridge like he usually does. Instead we went down the hill toward a truck that had stopped just off our property. When we reached said vehicle, a man emerged and greeted my human. I had never smelled him before but he seemed friendly enough. His own scent was mingled with that of canines. Always good to know you are dealing with a hominid that associates closely with dogs.
Moments later, the pup-perfumed dude opened up the canopy of his truck and two dogs burst forth. In an instant I found myself caught up in a rush of wagging, spinning and sniffing. I could feel the anxiety coming from both humans as they waited to see how we would respond. Would it be peaceably or an all out dog fight.
If we dogs are good at reading the body language of humans, we are even better at reading of our fellow species. Since we don’t have a tongue tactile enough to be able to enunciate, “Hello, my name is Fido and I come in peace.” we instead demonstrate our intentions with scent and mannerisms. The two pooches that had just poured out of the back of the pick up were indicating in no uncertain terms that they had no malicious intent and had romping on their mind.
Initially, my inclination was to establish myself as the alpha dog and maintain sovereignty over my domain. However, since we had met on neutral ground, and I had not actually cocked a leg here in some time, I decided to follow correct pack protocol and allow the social structure of our group to be determined at a latter date. Right now there was romping to do.
We headed toward the ridge and right off the bat, it was more than evident that I was going to have my paws full with these two mutts. Neo was a golden retriever like myself, but with a white face. Evidence of eight years of living maybe, but not an indicator of slowing down. Neo sniffed and ran with all the enthusiasm of a pup.
The other, bigger dog was Koda, a crazy pup with mismatched eyes, husky blood, and a penchant for playing and playing hard. I could hardly contain my excitement. Today I had new pack mates and a whole ridge to share with them.
Seems my Dude had similar intentions. He took on the role of tour guide, leading the new human — whom he referred to as Yves — to many of our favourite haunts. The coyote den, the cave, the petroglyphs, the viewpoints, and so many more, all visited and explained, at length, by my overly verbose person.
We dogs were given the freedom to follow our noses, which we did with relish. The scents lead us in all directions but rarely out of sight of our humans. And when we did stray, we would hear a whistle and bound back to them like the good dogs we knew they wanted us to be.
Eventually, the indefatigable Koda started to tire me out and I plunked myself down, panting, at the feet of my man as he told yet another of his stories. It was my first opportunity to read these men and try to determine what their relationship with each other was. Their mannerisms, their easy laughter and comfortable banter, spoke of the respect that comes with good pack protocol.
I was pleased to see that these two humans at least, were getting along. From what I have been gathering on the news, mankind can be quite territorial. Too many wanna-be alpha dogs always leads to a leg cocking match or worse.
Thankfully, that was no longer a concern here on the ridge now that I had established my undeniable authority over all in my pack.
Then, just I as I finished that thought, Koda pounced on me from behind and the good-natured wrestling began anew.