The Face That Launched 1000 Guesses

My Aussie, Gavin, will be 9 this year and is starting to prove the ravages of time and dysplastic hips.  We have always taken care ensure that his activities aren’t overly taxing to his joints; we have been cautious about keeping his weight within proper limits, and we have made sure he gets the proper exercise both physically and mentally. Of course, we have completely overlooked the fact that we should have been doing the same thing for ourselves, but that’s another story.

Loss of elasticity is a bitch! Those of you who, like me, are on the back side of 40 and beyond can surely appreciate this. For dog lovers, our elastic and gravitational handicaps are compounded by the fact that our dogs seem to derive great satisfaction from the myriad creaks, squeaks, groans, and expletives erupting from our mouths as we bend and stoop to do their bidding.

Even though our dogs suffer from these same maladies, they do not afford us the same courtesies. They insist that we move with the same speed and dexterity that we displayed in our youth. Idle opposable thumbs are the devils work and they intend to make sure our thumbs are gainfully employed.

Their attempts to elicit movement on our part are always vague in meaning. Yet our questions for clarification are met with silence and a cloying look that is impossible for humans (even old ones) to ignore. And so, the guessing game begins.

Like most other dogs, Gavin knows that the less specific his requests are the higher the ROI. For example here is a picture of Gavin displaying his “I want to go outside and play ball” look.

And here is a picture of Gavin displaying his “I want to go outside and prance around with the ball in my mouth while you get eaten by bugs” look. Startlingly similar aren’t they? I have dozens of other pictures that to me are indistinguishable from one another yet have completely different meanings to Gavin.

Dogs are the ultimate confidence artists and they have multiple variations for each con. They know that by the time we figure out what each of their “looks” mean, they are likely to be fed, let outside, walked, let inside, tummy rubbed, massaged, played with, and given the best spot on the bed. There’s no shame in their game.

Being a dog lover as well as geek at heart I believe I have come up with a solution for their obdurate insistence on our ability to divine their intentions— facial recognition software.

Once used by casinos to keep banned gamblers out (lest they actually win something), facial recognition software is now being used to detect emotions. Using this type of technology I plan to catalog the cause and effect of all my dogs looks along with thousands of volunteer dogs. By cross-referencing their looks with the corresponding actions taken by their owners to satisfy the requests, I can build a database of the most probable actions to take based on picture of a dogs expression.

Perhaps one day soon, the correct response to your dog’s “looks” will be a snapshot and mouse click away. But until then, you’re just going to have to grunt, groan and guess with the rest of us.



3 thoughts on “The Face That Launched 1000 Guesses

  1. Oh! “Prance around with the ball in my mouth while you get eaten by bugs” is our dogs’ FAVORITE game at the dog park! Paws down!

    Jake in particular likes to bring the ball allll the way back, then stand still long enough that you think he actually wants you to take it … until you reach for it, then he’ll take off with it again.

    I can’t WAIT for this software to be a reality. At home, the boys like to give us the “My toy is under the couch” look which is, I’m pretty sure, 99.9% identical to “I’m about to jump up on the couch with you” AND “I would like to go outside because I really need to go potty.” It’s all just waggy tails, tongues hanging out, and ears up!

  2. Kevin, written with your usual great humor, a smile on my face. Gavin and Bridgey together? Now that would be trouble. Let me know when you get that software developed! In the meantime, I will continue to cater to the myriad of attention seeking looks LOL.

  3. As Cali has gotten older, it seems that she enjoys the “prance around the yard with the toy in her mouth so I can appreciate how cute she is” over actually fetching it – but it definitely requires that I stand outside getting eaten alive by bugs for it to make her happy 🙂 The alternative is her coming and putting her head on my lap every 10 minutes with “that look”. Can’t wait until you have perfected your software 🙂

    Gavin sure is cute, I can see why he has you wrapped around his paw!!

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