Saturday, July 6, 2019


Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication
The day I saw Mom with the wild cat was the day I started to look closer at my mom and study her movements.  I realized that she was not just another pretty face.  Her face told you a lot of stories.

When Mom moved her ears up and straining forward, I realized that she was alert, excited, and aroused.  If this was accompanied by a Play Bow, I knew she was excited about play.

However, if her mouth was open with teeth bared and lips pulled tightly back, her arousal was anger and aggression.

I loved Mom’s face and discovered the many messages it could give me.  When I saw her face with the jaw relaxed and the eyes that were blinking and soft, I knew she was happy with me.  Squinty eyes were happy eyes. The whale eye, which was an eye that looked mostly white, was a danger signal.  It occurred when Mom would have her nose pointed at a valuable possession, like a piece of food, but her eye was still looking at me.  It was an indication that she was protecting something and would bite if that something was touched. 

If the teeth are shown and the face is wrinkled, it is a message of warning or correction.  Usually, Mom would then grow still, and her ears would be drawn back.  When the lips are pulled tightly back or if a growl sound was made, I knew I needed to act small and be submissive.  With my tail tucked under my belly and my body lowered, I would reach up and forward and give Mom a lick.  My ears would be drawn back and look like they are pinned to my head.  I would express an attitude of appeasement that said, “Please don’t harm me.  I mean you no harm.” 
When Mom was relaxed, her tail would be in a neutral position, sometimes swinging gently.  There would be no body tension.  Her face would be free of wrinkles or tension lines.  The front legs are not braced, and the back is not hunched or rounded.  Her ears would be floppy and relaxed.

Whenever I play with my littermates, the game I love the most is chase.  One of us would begin the chase.  The one being chased will run, zigzag, and hide behind a bush or tree.  We would take turns being chased or doing the chasing.   Sometimes we combine the chase with a pounce.  The large rocks around our den were fun to climb on.  We would often pounce and get others off balance.  Many of our games, including the prey-predator game, would contain a role reversal option.


With her permission, I will be serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through 

As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my endeavor.

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