by Sam Mazzotta
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: After reading your article about the “smiling” Borzoi, I want to tell you about my smiling Border Collie. “Jamie” will walk up to me with bared teeth, looking for a pat or a backrub. A smile and a head shake tells me she wants to go outside. There also is the “hangdog” look with bared teeth when she knows she has been naughty. No growls, just smiles.
Sometimes when I call her to come inside she looks at me, smiles and trots in the other direction! I wish I could read her mind. Jamie is such a quick study. Smartest dog we have ever adopted. — Carol F., Conesus, N.Y.
DEAR CAROL: Thank you for sharing that! Jamie sounds like a real character, all right.
A dog’s “smile” often indicates submissiveness, and certain breeds like the Borzoi actually bare their teeth when they smile. This is fairly uncommon in most other dogs — if you’re not familiar with a dog that is baring its teeth, back away.
Still, Border Collies are indeed very smart dogs and quick studies. They also just have that bright, alert, happy attitude that is the mark of a healthy Collie. I have a feeling that Jamie figured out that whenever she “smiles,” she gets a positive response from you (a backrub, or a trip outside, or another treat). Either way, it’s definitely a good deal on both sides, as you know when Jamie wants something (and can read signals as to what exactly she wants), and Jamie knows how to ask!