I found a copy of Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide by Brenda Aloff at my local library and checked it out, based on Dog-Geek and KB‘s recommendations, after I shared my Calming Signal confusion. I’ve read through the whole thing once, and I have plenty thoughts to share soon. Today, the topic is this: I believe Lilly speaks Dog-lais with either a heavy accent or poor syntax. She mixes her metaphors. She conjugates her verbs incorrectly. She reads like electronic assembly instructions translated from the original Chinese.
Seriously. I think Lilly speaks Dog-lais as a second language. I have NO idea what her native tongue is.
I’ve made longtime study of Lilly — her moods, her body postures, her meaning. And, still, when I really LOOK at what she’s “saying” to other dogs, it makes me want to laugh … or cry.
For example, last week, I saw Ginko giving Lilly a wary Whale Eye, but her body posture was low. Her ears were down. Her tail was wagging fast and low in a very submissive, heading toward puppy kisses kind of way.
I moved to get a better look at the tableau and realized that despite ALL the signals of appeasement, Lilly was curling her lips and baring her teeth at Ginko.
No wonder he seemed cautious. She must confuse the heck out of him. She could win the Academy Award for her rendition of The Three Faces of Eve.
Quite often, she’ll mix these signals, then immediately have a kissing fit all over his face — almost like an apology. I’ve tried several times to get video or a photo of this, but no success yet. Stay tuned.
I know that I probably cannot weigh my observations of Lilly only in the Ginko context since they clearly have a much deeper and more complicated relationship, but it is interesting to see how often his body reads compared to hers.