Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ears - a photo essay

Ears are the window to Phoenix’s soul.

I don’t know if other dogs are like this, but his ear-set speaks volumes. I can tell exactly what frame of mind he’s in by looking at his ears.

His tail is no good.

It’s a lovely furry tail and is adorable to watch wag and is apparently quite excellent for chasing, but trying to read his state of mind by how he carries his tail is a waste of time. He can be ecstatically happy, in the peak of drive and working hard and his tail will be carried low. If he carries his tail high, trouble is probably brewing.

So I watch his ears. Of course, his overall body language tells the whole story but it's those ears that are the key.

Here is an essay of ears. Thank you to my photographer friends for capturing these moments.

First, let’s look at what I call “working ears.” His ears are all over the place when he's in motion and on task - forward, backward, sideways - I think they reflect the intensity of the moment. They are the equivalent of sticking your tongue between your teeth in concentration.

 Ears slightly back, tail slightly down and all four paws in the air.
(Photo by Marsha Kingsley)

There's some fierce concentration here, with slightly flicked back ears.
And working up to a good forge but who cares.
(Photo by Sheryl McCormick)

His "lead" ear is pinned back, "new direction" ear is flicking forward. 
Tail is apparently acting as a rudder.
(Photo by Nieder Arts)

Concentration ears.
"I WILL do the table, I WILL do the table . . ."
(Photo by Marsha Kingsley)

Alternating the "up" ear during weaves
(Photo by Nieder Arts)

Next are what I’m calling “bored ears.” There’s not a lot of active interest in any of these pics. He’s going through the motions. Bored. Bored. Bored. Not surprisingly, they are all from one very bad Open run earlier this year.

 "Are we done yet?"
(All photos in this series by Sheryl McCormick)

"Here's your stupid dumbbell.
And a bad front. Ask me if I care."

"And we're marching, marching, marching . . ."

Here is the category “happy ears.” These speak for themselves. They lack the tongue-between-teeth concentration of working ears or the expressionlessness flop of bored ears. They are simply happy in an alert, “What’s next?” sort of way.

Drop on recall
(Photo by Sheryl McCormick)

Summer evening at the park
(Photo by me)

The pre-send-to-the-articles stare. 
(Photo by Sheryl McCormick)

Finally, nirvana ears. Only one pic here. When Phoenix is given to the sheer joy of what he’s doing, usually running around with a ball or purloined sock in his mouth, his ears virtually disappear. Like little pieces of furry origami, he simply folds them back to his skull in the sheer bliss of living.

"I have a ball and  you don't."
(Photo by me)

There are two categories I do not have pictures for:

1) scary ears. These are the “hard” ears that happen immediately before Phoenix does something snarky. It’s not just the ears but the whole facial expression - his eyes, jaw, the arch of his neck. It’s usually directed at a dog who is coming up in his face too fast or is taking liberties with a casual sniff-in-passing. I would love to be able to photograph the moment but it’s not something that’s easy (or advisable) to set up.

2) “Hey baby” sexy ears. His ears cross at the tips when he meets a girl. It’s the funniest thing. Phoenix is neutered. But apparently he doesn’t care. He still puts his sexy ears on when he gets the (rare) chance to flirt with a girl.

1 comment:

  1. My dogs share some of those ear qualities! Except Lyric-she always has princess ears.