"See!" she'll say excitedly. "He loves me! He's kissing me!" I did a little research and found that face-licking behavior is an instinct encoded in dogs when they're very little. Mother dogs go out and get dinner, bring it home and then throw it up (that's right!) so baby dogs can eat the "recycled" prey. When tiny puppies slobber all over Mom's face, they're not showing affection, they're licking the plate clean.
As dogs get older, they use the same technique to show they're not a threat to stronger members of the pack. They're saying, in effect, "You're so big and strong, and I'm just a little baby!" It's the same thing human beings do when they agree completely with any and every stupid thing the boss says at work, or when they say "thank you" to the cop giving them a speeding ticket.
I tried to explain to my wife that when Harry licks her face, he's really saying, "Don't kill me!" She waves me off with, "Oh, no. You wuv Mommy, don't you, widdo Harry?"
This past week, I saw an ad that I first took for a joke until I checked it out: the "Joozoo," a heart-shaped MP3 player for dogs. This patented (there's a waste of a patent number for you) device plays music to soothe your pet's state of mind. The device supposedly senses your pet's current mood and then selects a song that will help calm the dog down should he be upset, or pep him up if he's feeling depressed or lonely. Invented in Korea, the Joozoo is covered with 18-karat gold and hangs around Fido's neck. It costs between $1,500 and $2,000, depending on accessories and how stupid you are. (The Joozoo hails from a country where every August they celebrate the ancient holiday of "Malbok," which marks the hottest days of the year. Part of the traditional ceremony marking the summer heat is a festive meal where the main course is, ironically enough, dog.)
Still, the whole subject of pampered pets got me intrigued. Looking further, I found a Web site where you could have steaks from Nebraska flown in for your pet. There are digital collars that allow you to record your dog's barks while you're gone and then translate them from dog language to see what they mean. (What's dog language for "Get this thing off my neck"?)
I found a paint kit for dogs. Since dogs can't use a paintbrush, the kit comes with extra-wide paint trays so your pet can dip his paws into the pigment and then smear them across the canvas to "express" himself. If you're interested in this particular product, the good news is that it's only $24.99, so it's not that big of an investment. The bad news is that you're out of your mind.
The other weekend, I passed a city park where dog owners could enter a fenced area and let their dogs run free to socialize with (sniff) each other. The owners were gathered at one end of the park, watching appreciatively as their canine companions ran around in circles. I stopped for a moment and noticed a handwritten sign. It announced that the "small dog play group" met there Saturdays at 10 a.m.
It made me want to throw up. I didn't, though, because I was afraid all the cute little fur kids would run up and lick my face.
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