Table of Contents
Umwelt: From the Dog’s Point of Nose
Belonging to the House
Seen by a Dog
Inside of a Dog
You Had Me at Hello
The Importance of Mornings
Postscript: Me and My Dog
Notes and Sources
About the Authors
NSIDE OF A DOG
WHAT DOGS SEE, SMELL, AND KNOW
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To the dogsContents
A prefatory note on the dog, training, and owners
Calling a dog "the dog"
The dog and his owner
Umwelt: From the Dog's Point of Nose
Take my raincoat. Please.
A tick's view of the world
Putting our umwelt caps on
The meaning of things
DogologistBelonging to the House
How to make a dog: Step-by-step instructions
How wolves became dogs
And then our eyes met . . .
The one difference between breeds
Animals with an asterisk
Making your dogSniff
The nose nose
The vomeronasal nose
The brave smell of a stone
The smelly ape
You showed fear
The smell of disease
The smell of a dog
Leaves and grass
Brambish and brunkyMute
The opposite of mute
Whimpers, growls, squeaks, and chuckles
Body and tail
Inadvertent and intent
Eyes of the ball-holder
Go get the ball!
Go get the green ball!
Go get the green bouncing ball . . . on the TV!
Visual umweltSeen by a Dog
The eyes of a child
The attention of animals
Manipulating attentionCanine Anthropologists
Dogs' psychic powers deconstructed
All about youNoble Mind
Learning from others
Puppy see, puppy do
More human than bird
Theory of mind
Theory of dog mind
Playing into mind
What happened to the Chihuahua
Non-humanInside of a Dog
I. What a dog knows
Dog days (About time)
The inner dog (About themselves)
Dog years (About their past and future)
Good dog (About right and wrong)
A dog's age (About emergencies and death)
II. What it is like
It is close to the ground . . .
. . . It is lickable . . .
. . . It either fits in the mouth or it's too big for the mouth . . .
. . . It is full of details . . .
. . . It is in the moment . . .
. . . It is fleeting and fast . . .
. . . It is written all over their faces . . .You Had Me at Hello
The bond effectThe Importance of Mornings
Go for a "smell walk"
Allow for his dogness
Consider the source
Give him something to do
Play with him
Spy on him
Don't bathe your dog every day
Read the dog's tells
Get a mutt
Anthropomorphize with umwelt in mind
Postscript: Me and My Dog
Notes and Sources
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
—ATTRIBUTED TO GROUCHO MARX
NSIDE OF A DOG
First you see the head. Over the crest of the hill appears a muzzle, drooling. It is as yet not visibly attached to anything. A limb jangles into view, followed in unhasty succession by a second, third, and fourth, bearing a hundred and forty pounds of body between them. The wolfhound, three feet at his shoulder and five feet to his tail, spies the long-haired Chihuahua, half a dog high, hidden in the grasses between her owner's feet. The Chihuahua is six pounds, each of them trembling. With one languorous leap, his ears perked high, the wolfhound arrives in front of the Chihuahua. The Chihuahua looks demurely away; the wolfhound bends down to Chihuahua level and nips her side. The Chihuahua looks back at the hound, who raises his rear end up in the air, tail held high, in preparation to attack. Instead of fleeing from this apparent danger, the Chihuahua matches his pose and leaps onto the wolfhound's face, embracing his nose with her tiny paws. They begin to play.
For five minutes these dogs tumble, grab, bite, and lunge at each other. The wolfhound throws himself onto his side and the little dog responds with attacks to his face, belly, and paws. A swipe by the hound sends the Chihuahua scurrying backward, and she timidly sidesteps out of his reach. The hound barks, jumps up, and arrives back on his feet with a thud. At this, the Chihuahua races toward one of those feet and bites it, hard. They are in mid-embrace—the hound with his mouth surrounding the body of the Chihuahua, the Chihuahua kicking back at the hound's face—when an owner snaps a leash on the hound's collar and pulls him upright and away. The Chihuahua rights herself, looks after them, barks once, and trots back to her owner.
These dogs are so incommensurable with each other that they may as well be different species. The ease of play between them always puzzled me. The wolfhound bit, mouthed, and charged at the Chihuahua; yet the little dog responded not with fright but in kind. What explains their ability to play together? Why doesn't the hound see the Chihuahua as prey? Why doesn't the Chihuahua see the wolfhound as predator? The answer turns out to have nothing to do with the Chihuahua's delusion of canine grandeur or the hound's lack of predatory drive. Neither is it simply hardwired instinct taking over.
There are two ways to learn how play works—and what playing dogs are thinking, perceiving, and saying: be born as a dog, or spend a lot of time carefully observing dogs. The former was unavailable to me. Come along as I describe what I've learned by watching.
I am a dog person.
My home has always had a dog in it. My affinity for dogs began with our family dog, Aster, with his blue eyes, lopped tail, and nighttime neighborhood ramblings that often left me up late, wearing pajamas and worry, waiting for his midnight return. I long mourned the death of Heidi, a springer spaniel who ran with excitement—my childhood imagination had her tongue trailing out of the side of her mouth and her long ears blown back with the happy vigor of her run—right under a car's tires on the state highway near our home. As a college student, I gazed with admiration and affection at an adopted chow mix Beckett as she stoically watched me leave for the day.
And now at my feet lies the warm, curly, panting form of Pumpernickel—
—a mutt who has lived with me for all of her sixteen years and through all of my adulthood. I have begun every one of my days in five states, five years of graduate school, and four jobs with her tail-thumping greeting when she hears me stir in the morning. As anyone who considers himself a dog person will recognize, I cannot imagine my life without this dog.
I am a dog person, a lover of dogs. I am also a scientist.
I study animal behavior. Professionally, I am wary of anthropomorphizing animals, attributing to them the feelings, thoughts, and desires that we use to describe ourselves. In learning how to study the behavior of animals, I was taught and adhered to the scientist's code for describing actions: be objective; do not explain a behavior by appeal to a mental process when explanation by simpler processes will do; a phenomenon that is not publicly observable and confirmable is not the stuff of science. These days, as a professor of animal behavior, comparative cognition, and psychology, I teach from masterful texts that deal in quantifiable fact. They describe everything from hormonal and genetic explanations for the social behavior of animals, to conditioned responses, fixed action patterns, and optimal foraging rates, in the same steady, objective tone.