Guardian Animal’s anniversary falls on a Sunday this year, just like it did when we opened 29 years ago. There have been many things that have happened over the years, both good and not so good, but one of the things I still love the most is the happy animals.
I was thinking about this last week. I saw a short video on Facebook about a yellow lab that was happy dancing. They had set it to music, but the dog with his toy was bouncing up, alternating off his front feet and flipping them up at the wrists. You could not watch the video without smiling because the dog looked so happy.

I saw this same dance last Friday evening in real life. Oly had come in after he had collapsed. We weren’t sure if he was going to make it. After several days in the hospital, he was ready to go home. I watched as he came in the room to meet his dad to go home. The overweight, worried-that-he-might-have-died, yellow lab did the happy lab dance. Right front foot up and flip, left front foot up and flip, and again right front foot up and flip, left front foot up and flip. Now the hundred pound lab couldn’t keep it up for a video worth, but it was there and I saw it and it warmed my heart. I and my staff allowed Oly to continue to happy dance.

None of my three labs will do the happy dance in place like Oly and the FaceBook one, but they can show off. Whiskey will jump in place straight up in the air. And jump and jump. Tango will do the wrist flip when he is out in the play yard off leash. It isn’t really a run or a trot, but he is just so happy that he is flippy. Thor is an adorable lab puppy, whose father is deployed. On long term boarding, Thor thinks that we are his family. And he loves us. We are keeping up with his manners and don’t let him jump up on us. He knows that he isn’t supposed to jump, but he wants to so bad, that he hops up, wiggles in place and then lands on all fours. Thor’s in air full body wiggle is pure puppy happiness.

All dogs wag their tails when they are happy (or a slow wag for when they are focused), but nothing beats a beagle for the ability to spin their tail in circles of happiness. Boxers take the tag wag to whole new heights by wiggling their whole body. They even walk sideways they are wagging so hard.

Dogs are often not shy about asking to play. Butt up, front down is a clear indication that your dog wants to play and interact. The puppy dog eyes belong to happy dogs. The relaxed eyes and eyelids with frequent blinking is an indication of happiness. Perhaps the anticipation of sharing that tidbit you have and they are wanting. Ears are also relaxed in a happy dog. (Pinned back is fear or aggression. Cocked forward are watching, guarding.) Even the mouth can seem to smile in the relaxed, happy pose. Indeed, the whole body relaxes into a loose, wiggly squiggle. The happy bark is usually shorter and higher pitched than other types of barks.

This morning I woke up before the alarm. Whiskey was plastered to my back with his head on my pillow. He even had his tail on my leg. He could not get any closer. Tango will also sleep this way with his head over my neck. Ryker curls up on or beside my legs. Happy dogs will lean into you and seek out contact. I would much prefer to believe Whiskey, Tango and Ryker love me than they are trying to push me out of bed so it can be theirs.

Coming into Guardian Animal this Sunday morning, I was met by Gracie. She is a beautiful golden retriever who was out in the yard. She ran up to me and hopped in front of me, then she did the retriever figure of eight dance. She ran her shoulders and body against my legs in one direction, then reversed with the other side. After about a dozen figure of eights, she rolled over on her back to allow me to continue petting her with some belly rubs. A wriggling dog with belly up and tongue out is usually a very happy dog.
These happy dogs and their happy dances, snuggles, and looks keep me excited to come to work every day.