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.
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.