Dog kisses

As he enters his twilight years, Tucker (now ten and a half) is enjoying a new experience: having his mouth licked every time he’s greeted by our current puppy trainee. Kyndall does it pretty reliably almost every time she sees him after even the briefest separation:

052315 licking2

052315 licking1


What intrigues me is that she rarely licks Steve or me. This is good. We both like dogs a lot, but neither one of us has ever much enjoyed being scrubbed with a canine tongue. And only one of our dogs has ever done it much (Yuli, our second CCI pup, we think, though frankly the memory has faded.)

Steve recalls that Darby (CCI pup #4) often would lick the inside of Tucker’s ears. But what Kyndall does is different: she rushes up to Tuck and licks both sides of his mouth, usually wagging her tail enthusiastically as she ministers to him.

I’ve looked online for opinions about what all this may mean and found several interpretations, including a) it’s a demonstration of subservience (“Let me lick your chops for you, oh master!”), b) an invitation (“GREAT to see you again; let’s play!”), or a sign of affection (“Kisses!”) Tucker takes it in stride, patiently standing there as she works on him.

So we don’t see any harm in it. On the contrary, it helps to mitigate what has long been the most disgusting thing about Tucker, his tendency to drool. Now that I mention it, I suppose there could be another explanation: maybe Kyndall likes the taste? (Eewwwwwwwwwwww.)


My friend Howie passed along a link to comic photos of dogs caught in mid-lick by photographer Ty Foster. They certainly amused me, and I can imagine that Foster’s upcoming book project will find a ready audience among fans of silly dog photos.

They also made me reflect on Steve’s and my experience with dogs and licking. We recall that only one of our dogs has ever been a compulsive licker, but to our shame, we can’t remember if it was Pearl, our fourth Personal Dog, or Yuli, our second CCI puppy. (In our defense, both of them were stubborn black labs — easy to mix up in retrospect.)
I’ve known people who like their dogs to lick them, equating the licking with “kisses.” It’s a pretty obnoxious behavior, to my mind (and the dog pros seem to see them more as a sign of submission than affection.) Happily, Dionne licks us only occasionally and is easily discouraged.
The tongue weirdo in our current pack is Tucker. Occasionally, he’ll sit and draw his own tongue in and out.  To us, it looks like he’s savoring whatever food molecules continue to cling to it. Once he starts, we’ve seen him keep this up for minutes on end.
I wanted to see if I could capture any images comparable to Foster’s.  So I wiped a glob of almond butter on Tucker’s tongue and got him going:
Clearly, I’m not as good a photographer as Foster is. But Tuck thought it was a fun experiment.