Canines...companions or con-artists?
August 14, 2003 10:46 AM   Subscribe

What makes Dogs happy? Food? Sex? Working? Being pampered and spoiled? A whole host of books are out there alternating between the belief that your dog is somewhere between a fuzzy-wuzzy lovey parasite and a quasi-human companion. (My dog sez, food and belly rubs...)
posted by vito90 (23 comments total)
What makes my dog happy?
Rolling around on top of dead animal carcasses.
I believe, by watching this take place, that this is the most wonderful experience he has ever encountered.
posted by bradth27 at 10:58 AM on August 14, 2003

Good article. More dog stuff can be found in this thread from last year.
posted by TedW at 11:08 AM on August 14, 2003

"What makes Dogs happy?"

The scent of dog ass.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:13 AM on August 14, 2003

"They don't want to have sex with you at strange times.''

Or at any time, one would hope.
posted by orange swan at 11:17 AM on August 14, 2003

Elk ribcages if you're a New Guinea Singing Dog. (Scroll down to where AnneV begins the tale.)
posted by lobakgo at 11:30 AM on August 14, 2003

My pugs are delighted by the anticipation of a car ride, ("who wants a ride in the car?!?! In the CAR??!?!") even when the ride is to somewhere they don't want to go, like the vet's office. They also flip out over the sound of someone hitting the buzzer on the front gate of our complex, cause they know that means visitors, which is like the best thing in the world. Finally, and most obviously, they're incredibly happy whenever my wife or I come home after being out of the house for more than 15 minutes. If we've been gone the whole day, the boy pug actually howls, he's so overcome with emotion.
posted by jonson at 11:31 AM on August 14, 2003

Pugs aren't really dogs though. They're more like overgrown slugs.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:40 AM on August 14, 2003

I should mention first that, personally, I have absolutely no use for the beasts, and my disdain borders on antipathy.

That being said, I am surrounded by the animals (friends, family, colleagues) and have observed a great deal of dog and/or owner behavior and have come to believe that all dogs really want is order. The article pretty much suggests the same.

They are instinctive social pack creatures who, it seems to me, are really just looking for their place in the pecking order. Once that has been established (basic needs notwithstanding) they're pretty much content. Take away that structure, or introduce a variable (like another dog, a new companion, new surroundings, etc) and much like other social critters (us included) they strive to find a new balance.

The difference is, of course, is that they are relatively simple creatures (emotionally and intellectually) and their reactions and motivations are unburdened by our complicated concepts of behavioral cause and effect. Anthropomorphizing canine behavior is really pretty silly.

Maybe it really comes down to, in a dogs mind: "Tell me who's boss, keep the food and shelter steady, and if there's an occasional belly rub and a stinky carcass around, hey, more's the better!"
posted by elendil71 at 11:41 AM on August 14, 2003

my dog loves when I put her harness on and she pulls me around the park on my long board. Possibly the laziest way to give your dog a work out. She can do the one mile lap in about 4 minutes. For a 45 pound dog that's pretty good.
posted by trbrts at 11:56 AM on August 14, 2003

What makes Dogs happy?

Eating their own excrement?
posted by jpburns at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2003

Sorry, that was a little harsh.

Howabout: "Seeing god in the mirror?"
posted by jpburns at 12:54 PM on August 14, 2003

your an idiot ;)
posted by rosswald at 1:02 PM on August 14, 2003

my dog wants food. he doesn't care how he gets it or what it is, he just wants food; the more food the better. just last week he hopped up onto the table and grabbed two mostly eaten t bone steaks. then he scurried under a table in the living room so no one could get the steaks away from him and he proceeded to consume both steaks, bone and all. even after being sick from eating so much steak all at once, i know he would do it again if given the chance. i should be upset but he is just soooooooo cute. i even taught him how to howl . he will do anything for food.
posted by alicila at 1:03 PM on August 14, 2003

does anyone know why dogs shake their legs when you rub their bellies?
posted by Espoo2 at 1:05 PM on August 14, 2003

Nothing makes my dog happier than a tennis ball. Scratch that - nothing makes him happier than someone throwing the tennis ball.
posted by MsVader at 1:07 PM on August 14, 2003

What makes Dogs happy? Food? Sex? Working? Being pampered and spoiled?

Substitute "you" for "Dogs" in that sentence, and it still works. Humans are animals too.
posted by norm at 1:25 PM on August 14, 2003

My mother's Aussie loves her stuffed animals--almost as much as she likes ripping out their eyes. I thought it was the plastic parts that got her, until she started in on some threaded eyes. Freak. She won't go for the appendages at all.

Actually, most herding breeds need a consistent job to keep them happy, from what I've observed.
posted by marzenie99 at 1:32 PM on August 14, 2003

Part of the allure of dogs is that it seems to take very little to make them turn inside-out with joy. Who knows if it's joy in the sense that we experience it. Absolutely nothing makes me as content as my folks' bloodhound when she just has a sunny patch in which to stretch out.

They pass those feelings on to us. Nothing ever bothers me if I'm standing on a lawn or in a field repeatedly throwing something for the entertainment of a big, dopey dog.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:01 PM on August 14, 2003 [1 favorite]

Pugs aren't really dogs though. They're more like overgrown slugs.

Alright, Davis, you wanted an update, you got one!!
posted by jonson at 3:19 PM on August 14, 2003

What makes my dog happy? Humping Sancho, our cat (I should say "air-humping" because no actual "contact" occurs). Sancho is usually unfazed and sometimes rolls over and starts playing with the fur on his chest.
posted by echolalia67 at 3:40 PM on August 14, 2003

jonson, you can ignore the evidence all you wish, but photos don't lie.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2003

My dog used to love pulling me around on a skateboard, like trbrts's dog, except he would go as fast as his muscular Boxer's body could power us, and after some seriously high-speed spills I swore off it. He also trumped those tool-making crows with his door opening abilities. We'd reversed the lever handle on the front gate so he had to raise it. He figured that out quick enough. So we inserted a peg to block the handle from raising but he learnt to pull that out with a paw, the smartarse!

There's a quote at the beginning of Raimond Gaita's (Professor of Moral Philosophy at King's College) book The Philosopher's Dog from Cora Diamond which I liked (I'll just take the end of it): "...In the case of the difference between animals and people, it is clear that we form the idea of this difference, create the concept of the difference, knowing perfectly well the overwhelmingly obvious similarities.'
posted by Onanist at 4:06 AM on August 15, 2003

posted by NortonDC at 11:41 AM on August 15, 2003

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