Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Profiles In Love

I read somewhere that dogs recognize profiles. The idea behind the study was that if you ever wondered why dogs respond in predictable ways to other dogs with pricked ears or a certain sweep of the tail, slope of a back, or bulk, it’s because they recognize those general dog silhouettes. That’s how they seem to recognize their own breed. And that’s how they recognize each other – though they’re as likely to take such recognition cues from smell as they are from sight.
My dogs have always seemed to prove the rule. My Malamutes have always seemed to recognize the outlines of dogs that appear similar to the dogs they already know. Breeze seems inclined to think, for instance, upon meeting Deacon (the Lab) that Deacon is okay because he appears much as his friend, Jewel – a very similar looking leggy Lab.

And that’s also why my Malamutes have always seemed particularly alert when they come across other Northern breed dogs – Huskies, Samoyeds, and other Malamutes. When Breeze sees pricked up ears and a tail curled over the back, he immediately seems to suspect “family”. 

And so it was the other day as Dar was walking Breeze in a neighborhood they don’t usually walk, Dar’s attention was caught by some movement off to her left. In the back yard of a nearby house was a Malamute. And not just any Malamute either, but a Malamute with a profile so similar to our dear, departed Ariel’s profile that Dar's breath caught and she stood there frozen. Her heart raced for the split second it took before her brain could remind her heart that there was no hope. It couldn’t (of course) be her beloved Ariel.

And then she looked down beside her. There stood Breeze. Frozen in his tracks. Full recognition in his eyes. And hope. His heart wasn’t getting the message of reason. Such a hopeful optimist, bless him.

They walked on. 

Breeze looked back.

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