November 19, 2007

Dog dreams

"What are you lookin' at?"
I just finished reading Michael Crichton's Congo, a tepid techno-mystery from the pre-internet days. Not to bother with the ridiculous plot, a researcher is amazed to find that his experiments with teaching a gorilla sign language reveal that the ape has dreams. In the book, this is treated as a major revelation. If you have ever had a dog, you know that dogs dream quite a bit. I imagine other species also have dreams.

The dog in the picture was my Beagle hound, Snoopy. He is shown sucking up to a visitor, circa 1960. Snoopy used to have the most vivid dreams. In the middle of one of his many naps he would start to make whimpering noises and moving his feet as though running. Soon, his breathing would accelerate, making what passes for lips on a hound flap noisily. This would all come to a big, animated crescendo. Then Snoopy would suddenly sit up and bay as only a Beagle can bay. The howl would wake him up, after which he always looked sort of sheepish or embarrassed. Toward the end of his long life, Snoopy farted more than he bayed, but still had vivid dreams.
The Span Of Life by Robert Frost:
The old dog barks backwards without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.
Some days I still miss my old hound.

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