Nice Pants (Training Part I)
Back when Woody and I first committed to the idea of a weblog (back when weblogs consisted of the fascinating if obsessed musing and diaristic detail spewing from the keyboards of anonymous citizens, not the daily pusillanimous political pontificating of self-proclaimed pseudo-cyber-journalists as well as becoming a desperate marketing gimmick for cash-strapped online magazines -- in other words, about two months ago, and I mean human months not dog months) one of the primary things we hoped to accomplish was to serve as an online place to inform and educate other dogs about the behavior and training of people. But since Woody is neither focused nor articulate, and totally capable of giving spell-checkers a bad name, we've been slow to start. But here's an attempt to get the ball rolling. So here's Lesson One.
The first thing a dog should know about humans is that they can't pant to dissipate heat. Sure you see them with their tongues sticking out, and their mouths are always open for one reason or another, but it's dogopomorphizing to imagine that that behavior is the same as the panting we normally do.
We're not really sure what that behavior is about in humans, although researchers Rover, Spot and Gritlips of the Second Back Yard to the South Institute note that humans are prone to imitation and what we consider panting in humans might be nothing more than mimicked behavior.
Why is this important to know? Because many dogs find themselves having to take their people for walks, out to play, hunting, etc. Some dogs are lucky enough to have people that will work along side them while they chase squirrels, bark at intruders, keep cats in line, etc., but most people are lazy and need to have a formal exercise period after you're done with the chores.
The problem is that dogs sometimes forget that, relatively speaking, people are slow and poorly conditioned and can only keep up with a dog in stride for short periods of time. (Remember that two of their legs are vestigial and useless and hang limply at their sides when they run.) But if you don't know how to recognize the warning signs of a human suffering from over-exertion, your human can suffer from increased appetite, heart attacks, flatulence and bouts of loud barking in your direction.
Ironically, if you persist, some humans are so anxious for approval that they will take a rope or strap and attach it to their hand and your collar just to help themselves keep up.
So how do you know when your human is over-exerting? Ignore the pseudo-panting and pay attention to their hide instead. When their hide starts looking very wet, sort of like they've been walking in the rain, that's an indication that their body is trying to dissipate excess heat. They call it sweating. Yes, it's smelly and disgusting, and it probably explains why they have so little hair, but hey, isn't that just one of the reasons we love them?