Baxter Black: Dogs can feel many emotions, embarrassment included
March 15, 2016
It is my observation that dogs feel certain basic emotions like affection, fear, confusion or joy. I'm not sure they're capable of feeling sadness or jealousy or if they can get their feelings hurt. But I believe a dog can get embarrassed. Take the Sunbeam clippers to a long haired dog, and see if he doesn't slink off behind the barn.
We bought a few acres out in the country but rented in town 'til we built our house. Boller, my good cowdog and companion, stayed in the backyard but loved to go out to the place.
He would know when I was fixin' to leave. He'd wait by the front door vibratin' like a bow string. I'd tease him a little, then say, "Go git in the pickup!"
I'd open the door and he'd streak across the grass, across the driveway and catapult up into the back of the pickup.
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One winter morning, I was preparing to drive out and split some wood. Boller was tuned up and tickin' like a two-dollar watch. I peeked out the door when I released him. We'd had an ice storm. The trees hung heavy with icicles and the concrete driveway was like a mirror. Boller shot across the frozen grass, reached the driveway, set his hind legs to spring skyward, hit the ice and slid like a statue of a dog praying, flat into the side of the pickup.
He didn't know what happened. He glanced over his shoulder, saw me watching and walked, red faced, around the back of the pickup.
Bill said Booker was one of the dumber dogs they'd ever had on the ranch. He didn't have much cowdog in him, so, other than entertainment, he wasn't much use. To his credit, he did make an effort, but it was usually a disaster. Booker grew up to the sound of regular outbursts, curses and colorful epithets directed his way.
One hunting season, Bill and a friend winged a buck. They drove the truck as close to the brush as possible, then went looking. Ever hopeful, Bill said, "Booker, find the deer!"
Well, to everyone's amazement, big ol' slobberin' Booker found it.
Bill heaped praise on him…"Good dog! Good dog!"
Booker was so pleased, he was beside himself. He grinned a big ol' loopy grin and was overcome with this unaccustomed acclaim. In his exuberance, he raced for the pickup, made an Olympic leap, cleared the entire bed, hooked his hind paw on the far side, and nosed dived into the dirt!
They found him up the road about a half a mile…acting like nothing happened. ❖