Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dog Training For Alien Characterization

My beach reads this summer included "It's Me Or The Dog" by Victoria Stilwell. I wasn't far into the book when I saw the potential for alien romance writing inspiration.

Dogs have different abilities and some of their senses are much better than ours. Take the sense of smell and the logic of sniffing, for instance. Dogs perceive events and behaviour differently. Just as a romance hero alien would.

In one passage of the book, Victoria Stilwell recounts what most humans think if they see a dog joyfully rolling in the grass. We (humans) anthropomorphise. We assume that the dog is enjoying the sort of experience that we would enjoy, if we rubbed our spines against fragrant, cool grass. In fact, wild dogs use scent the way human deer hunters dress up in camouflage. The dog is blending in, disguising his scent.

As I think about sniffing, and the useful social information dogs glean from where other dogs have "been", it occurs to me that a sexually lonely alien with dog-like senses would probably find the Ladies section of public toilets irresistible. What a great source of conflict!

One potentially hilarious part of the book discusses the qualities of leadership that are appreciated by dogs. These qualities include the ability (of the leader) to project happiness, also aloofness, also calm authority. What fun it would be to assess some of the world's most prominent politicians as if we were dogs!

Be warned, "It's Me Or The Dog" contains some very sad stories of how differently humans view dog behaviour and motivation, and how badly these misunderstandings can play out for the dog. It is certainly a thought-provoking tome, and I recommend it... not just to alien romance writers.


  1. Reading this your entry I have even noticed some new information which I haven’t known before. Thanks a lot for sharing this interesting post and I will be waiting for other great news from you in the nearest future.

  2. I love the TV show IT'S ME OR THE DOG and had no idea she'd written a book. I must get it!

    A recent PBS special about dogs included the discovery that dogs can "understand" the act of pointing, although chimps, even though they're more intelligent, can't. The theory is that dogs evolved this ability through many millennia of living with human beings and adapting to our ways.