Michael Pearce

Dogs' expressions better than a polygraph

If only dogs played poker maybe I could win a hand or two. You can tell everything they’re thinking just by looking at their face, especially if it’s not looking at you.

Home from work Monday afternoon I found a set of whitetail antlers in the middle of our living room floor. They’d been in the basement that morning.Lady Bird’s face seems to be saying “What deer antlers? Oh, those deer antlers…what makes you think I brought those hefty things up from the basement? I think the miniature dachshund did it!” Like most dogs, her face is a dead give-away that she’s guilty.Lindsey’s, our grown daughter, dog, Lady Bird was bouncing all over the house, happy someone was home when I came in the door. In and out of the pet door she went two or three times, around “the circle” of the living room, dining room, breakfast room and kitchen she pranced….until she saw me stop and pick up the antlers.

She instantly shrank down and wouldn’t look at me. I hadn’t said a word, I was just holding the antlers.

The Australian shepherd couldn’t have looked more guilty if I’d have caught her coming up the basement stairs with the eight-point antlers in her jaws.

When I said her name, she rolled on her back, put her paws in the air as if she was holding them up to be paw-cuffed.

Many dogs are like that, especially Labs. I can walk in the door and Hank, my black dog, will cower a bit when he’s done something wrong.

If I walk over to a shredded paper or whatever, I’ll soon here the tell-tale slaps of the pet door as he’s headed outside. If it’s really something big he’ll trot out to the kennel he hasn’t been confined to in ten years. There he’ll crawl inside the dog house with just his snout showing. It’s like he’s put himself in solitary confinement, and is waiting for someone to slam the door on a life sentence.

Ruby Tuesday, our very miniature dachshund tells on herself with her other end. When she’s guilty she runs to hide under a bed, often leaving the back half of her very guilty body sticking out into the room.

The look on some dog’s faces is as much proof of innocence as guilt. If there’s a mess, and Hank sits beside it as I walk up, and looks at me with a lowered face I know he didn’t do it. We call it his, “Please don’t blame me for this one…” expression.

Location of the crime scene is also as good as an eye witness to the crime, it seems.

Ruby takes her bounty to the intersection of two hallways. Find a ripped-open baggie of dog food I foolishly left in open luggage on the floor between two specific trees in our backyard and you’ll see Hank’s tail tucked as he slinks into his kennel.

Lady Bird shreds paper right in the living room, but is kind enough to carry out her dozen or so toys to all parts of the yard while we’re away.

Hank, by the way, is actually pretty excited when I walk out side and see the toys so well scattered….he knows it’s his job to fetch them all to me on the porch, one playful retrieve at a time, while Lady Bird bounces along beside him.

Watching them, the look on my face probably shows all is forgiven.