Friday, April 25, 2014

View From Above (#atozchallenge)

Humans are taller than dogs. (Obviously, yes. But please bear with me.)

Unless you're a small child (or your dog is a 300-lb Great Dane), you stand at least three feet above your dog.

Which means you and your dog see different things.

Hey, human. How's it going up there?

I learned a lot from Brenda Aloff's Canine Body Language--more, probably, than I'll remember with any degree of effectiveness. But one thing that felt like a bucket of ice water on my head was this:

What happens at the dog's level often goes unnoticed at the human level.

Up here in Human Land it might look like two dogs are ignoring each other. But are they ignoring each other too hard? Maybe, down there in Dog World and out of (our) sight, the gauntlet is being thrown, tension is brewing, emotions are escalating. And when the growl or snap comes, human's all like, that came from nowhere!

No, it didn't. We just weren't looking.

Maybe there was a treat or a toy lying nearby, and one of the dogs wanted to claim it. Maybe one felt threatened by the other's size or demeanor. Maybe someone's space is being invaded. Maybe there's another dog approaching. Maybe the human is paying too much attention--or not enough--to one dog. Maybe--

Well. You get the idea.

Dog handlers need to train themselves to see these things. To step outside the human view and see the world from the dog's perspective. The things we consider important may not be important to them, and vice versa. Until we're able to see their world and the mechanics that rule it, we'll never understand them. We'll never be able to communicate properly.

And doesn't that apply to every relationship we have, canine or not?

~ * ~

Thanks for the visit, and happy A-to-Z-ing!


  1. I did once spend a day taking photographs from the height of my Jack Russell's eyes, including a photograph of myself, taken from his viewpoint standing close to me. That certainly gave me an impression of what he sees, which has proven useful on a number of occasions. Now, if I could only get into his head, to see what his brain does with those images, I would be getting somewhere!

    1. That's a great idea, Keith! I might put it into practice this weekend--A Dog's World: Photography Journal :D

  2. We can learn so much from them and I once went to my dog's height to see the world (or livingroom) from his sight but he came over and licked my face so my test ended there

  3. Shame the little guy at the top got his head chopped off but I love the photo. it's great to look at things from a different viewpoint.

    1. I agree, Sally--both about the photo (one of my faves) and what a shame that Rusty (black dog) didn't fit into the frame. Thanks for the visit!

  4. So true! I don't have dogs but looking at things from a different perspective is helpful in all aspects of life, especially in my writing. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
    Minion, Capt. Alex's Ninja Minion Army
    The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

    1. Too right, Madeline! One of the great, great things about fiction--read or, preferably, written--is how it forces you to change perspectives. I love that about writing. Thanks for the visit!

  5. so many dogs.. so little "v"'s..

    Thank you for being part of the "AtoZ Challenge", please stop on over to my site[s] and say "Hello"!

    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2014]

    Old is the New Cool...

    1. Jeremy! I'm honored you stopped by my blog :) Thank you for the sweet comment. Off to visit you back!

  6. This is so true; hadn't thought of it in this perspective with dogs; have done it with children, going down to their level, but never considered it with dogs. I'll have to get down on my hands and knees and see how the world looks through Koda's eyes (and then hopefully be able to get back up again :)

    Almost done with the challenge :)


  7. Yup! you said it right! We end up judging people many times since we don't see their perspective and as a result we end up hurting them and ourselves! Great post!
    Danny Simon

  8. Thanks for this post! Every now and then I get down on the floor to see things from my dog's point of view. When I do that, our relationship changes. She treats me differently, moving away from that "please play with me" demeanor to more of the "I'm in charge here and you will most certainly play with me if I tell you to" approach. And it's always interesting to see things how she sees them.

  9. Our resident border collie is constantly seeing things we miss, like her ball, stuck under the couch *again* or the nest of baby bunnies under our apple tree *which she swiftly snagged and just as swiftly spit out, the stunned bitty bunny high-tailed it to the neighbors* Speaking of bunnies, Lucy's always like, "The dust bunnies are getting outta hand. They're even encroaching on my food bowl, which is NOT cool."

    Echoes of Olympus
    A to Z #TeamDamyanti

  10. My daughter's dogs play quite differently with me if I sit or lie on the floor with them; I'm no longer seen as being in charge.


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