Steve and I have only had one dog who smiled. That was Tootsie, the chocolate lab whom we acquired in 1990. I don’t know when we first noticed the little scrunch-up of her muzzle, but I’m pretty sure it took us quite a while to recognize it for what it was. We couldn’t believe it at first; it astounded us. But eventually, her facial expression was unmistakable. Her smile grew in complexity as she aged. By the time she was 10 or 11, I could glance at her in my office as I worked, and she’d flash me the quickest of grins. But if we returned after being out for several hours, she would beam long and broadly and toothily.

I think Dionne may become a smiler too. Two or three times now, I’ve noticed that quick wrinkling of her muzzle when she greets me. Steve has never seen it, and it certainly has never lasted long enough for me to capture in a photograph. But I suspect she’ll get more and more proficient at it.

I’m not sure this is a good thing, from the perspective of CCI. Someone once told me that the organization dislikes the behavior because members of the public can misinterpret it as a snarl. I’ve written the puppy program coordinator to ask if this is true, and if so, how a diligent puppy raiser is supposed to react. I haven’t heard back from her yet.

Actually, Dionne hasn’t had much to smile about in the last day and a half. I fed her rice for dinner Friday evening (after she threw up her breakfast Friday morning.) She kept it down through the night, so I fed her rice mixed with dog food yesterday morning, and she then proceeded to throw up THREE times in the ensuing hours. She wasn’t the least bit mopey or listless, and she was drinking and eliminating normally. So we weren’t too worried about her. But we went into Extreme Tummy Control mode — i.e. giving her nothing at all to eat for 22 hours. Then just a cup or so of boiled rice early this afternoon. She got more rice for dinner. If she holds it down, we’ll slowly add boiled puppy kibble in the coming days.

This program distresses me. I know she must be hungry, yet there’s no way to communicate why we’re not feeding her. At least the torture usually doesn’t last that long. Something to smile about!

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