It is night-time. Cassie the Corgi and Ruby the (former) Corgi Pup have been lifted onto the bed. The Human has turned on the electric throw (about a third the size of a blanket) and has crawled under it and is either reading a book or tapping away at the computer. Cassie has staked out her territory just south of an unoccupied pillow near the head of the bed, her rear end impinging on the Human's space. Ruby has been consigned (by Cassie) to the bottom of the bed.

As you might imagine, this state of affairs is fated to...not last long.

Soon, Ruby slinks toward the head of the bed and insinuates herself between Cassie and the Human. Before you know it, she's got her entire body glommed against the Human's side. To do this requires her also to lay partly against Cassie the Queen of the Universe.

Cassie says, "Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr."

The Human's hair stands on end.

Ruby slinks closer and insinuates herself more tightly.

Without further comment, Cassie raises a lip and exposes a set of aging but still gleaming canines.

The Human says, "Cassie, you demented beast, kindly do not show your teeth to the puppy."

Self-righteously, Ruby squirms closer.

Cassie replies, "Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr." Note that there is no exclamation point after this Grr. It is a laid-back "Grr," more of a statement than a threat. Nor does she raise her head off the mattress.

Still. It is unmistakably a Grr.

Ruby is so unfazed as to venture into the realm of the insanely foolhardy. She weasels herself up on top of the Human.

The Human lifts her off and sets her back on the mattress.

Cassie raises her head and glares at Ruby.

Ruby retreats to the vicinity of the Human's feet.

Both dogs subside and doze off.

How does Ruby know that a long, low, and distinctly cranky-sounding "grrrrrrrrrrrr" means, to all intents and purposes, almost nothing? How does Ruby know that when Cassie bares her somewhat alarming fangs, she is not about to bite? How does Ruby know that The Look has more significance than a long and throaty growl?

Then we have the Sparring of the Fangs. This is even more startling to the Human.

The Human is parked on the Throne, whence she cannot quickly disengage herself. Both dogs are quietly hanging out on the bathroom rug, awaiting breakfast or some such.

All of a sudden, up comes a rowr rowr rowr! and a BAT BAT WHACK BAT of muzzles and brightly bared fangs and by golly, it looks for all the world like a fight is starting.

But, well...no. A fight is not starting. This is some kind of a game. Or possibly it's a social competition, like the flinging of the hammer in Scottish Highland games. 

Whatever it is, it's not a fight.

***

So, when you are a Dog, how do you know that another dog who emits a guttural growl and displays a set of fangs to you means exactly...nothing? Or that maybe she means "You little twit! You're annoying me," but she has no intention of doing anything about it? When you are a Dog, how do you know that during the BAT BAT WHACK BAT game, you are not expected to go for your sparring companion's jugular? What is it with dogs?

***

BTW, the Human is feeling mighty pleased because it just sold 12 copies of its new diet/cookbook, 30 Pounds, 4 Months. If your preference for browsing 100 moderately healthy recipes lies in print rather than electronic form, visit Plain & Simple Press and leave an inquiry at our Contact page.

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