Friday, June 17, 2005


I've been working on a book about criminal psychology and profiling (I'm a writer by trade). It's part of a forensics series, and it's amazing how the littlest details can identify the person who commits a crime. It isn't just "hard evidence" like DNA, fiber analysis, and fingerprint matches that identify criminals, but more subjective things as well: habits, styles, actions, mannerisms.

Someone once said that to learn about an artist you have to study his works; to know a criminal you have to study his crime (at least according to former FBI behavioral scientist John Douglas).

Why? Because crime scenes tell you about behavior, and behavior tells you about the person committing the crime. People have indiosyncrasies that are every bit as unique as fingerprints and iris scans.

I guess dogs are like people: they have indiosyncrisies, too. :o)

Ridge is our flip-0n-his-back groaner (something neither of the other two does). He's also our ever-so-gently-plant-his-paws-on-your-shoulders-to-give-you-a-kiss greeter.

Baxter is our lamb-like leaping gazelle (all four feet off the ground) when he's happy. He's also our kangaroo-hop-at-the-gate welcomer (vertically jumping on his back two feet).

Elsie is our flop-against-you leaner. She loves to touch.

When it comes to nuzzling, each has his style: Baxter is a head-on-the-knee kind of guy; Ridge curls up next to us, but doesn't need to touch; Elsie's an I-want-to-be-in-your-lap gal, and if she can't plop her full self in our laps, she plunk her body over both our feet.

Their idiosyncrisies tell us about who they are: Baxter's our exuberant, out-going, full-of-enthusiasm for anything adolescent; Ridge is our faithful, independent-but-neurotic old man; and Elsie is our affectionate, gentle soul.

Each acts differently; each possesses an individual personality.

I used to wonder when I heard that shepherds knew each sheep by name. How can they distinguish between 100 or 200 or 500 sheep? They all look the same to me.

But I suspect that each, like in other species, has its own little character when it's born--a part of which remains for a lifetime.

Kinda like dogs. Just like kids. Exactly like people.

Each one is different. Each is unique.

I celebrate, giggle over, and appreciate the differences I see in our canine kids. Perhaps I should work harder at doing the same with my human friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintences.

'Til next time,

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