I’ve been thinking (and writing) a lot about dogs and their emotions lately. I love the way Dr. Marc Bekoff describes animal emotions and says that dog joy or fox grief might not be like our experience of joy or grief but that doesn’t make it any less real. (Check out his book, The Emotional Lives of Animals).
Jana and Wylie certainly exhibit what can only be joy — pure delirious happiness — every time we let them loose in “their new front yard” — Lassing Park, on Tampa Bay.
Wylie runs in delighted circles in the water, kicking up splashes, flying toward flocks of birds, racing, racing, racing until his tongue is hanging to his knees and all he can do is stand, panting and grinning giddily.
Jana is a bit more restrained, usually seeking out the deepest pool of water and lying down in it. Then, she exuberantly rolls in the sand, the grass, any dead thing she can find. And repeats the cycle as many times as I let her. She, too, runs along the waterfront with a big smile on her face.
This undeniable dog happiness is tempered somewhat by what comes next. Bathtime. Rinsing them, we laugh at their disgusted and annoyed expressions, at Wylie’s snapping at the water spray, at Jana’s dance to avoid having all that nice smelly stuff washed off.
Some may call me anthropomorphic, but no one who has observed these — or any other — dogs closely can deny that they are happy.