“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” was a best seller in the nineties by John Gray that sold over 7 million copies. It essentially sought to highlight the differences between men and women in dealing with problems and issues and how it affects relationships, etc. To segue from this to the focus of this post is, admittedly, a bit of a leap but one cannot help notice how male and female dogs react differently to situations. In fact, this is true of other species of animals as well.

We have two German Shepherd dogs, Max and Kaya; actually, Kaya belongs to Saira and Richard – my daughter and son-in-law. But Saira describes the ownership of the dogs as being analogous to a “joint custody” arrangement because they are kept together all the time. When we are in Northern Virginia, we usually have physical custody of the dogs and when we are away – as is the case right now – Saira and Richard keep them at their house. We try and keep the dogs together because they have been companions to each other since they were puppies.

What triggered this particular post is a picture that Saira sent me of Kaya with my younger grand-children. She is laying on the floor very contentedly with the grand-kids taking all sorts of liberties with her and she is happily oblivious of what is going on. In the background, you can see the front paws of Max whose attitude appears to be one of wanting not to totally miss out on all that is going on but at the same time he is not about to allow himself to be subjected to the Kaya “treatment” from the kids.

Both the dogs are attached to the kids and protective of them but when the twins – Praveen and Prakash who are 15 months old – get upset, it is Kaya who becomes a shade frenzied.

The differences in the way Max and Kaya react to varying situations are striking and is the reason why I used the Mars/Venus analogy. I don’t want to over-emphasize the gender difference too much because although there are differences in the way male and female dogs react, to some extent it also depends on the dogs and their individual traits. However, Kaya’s maternal instinct seems to come to the fore in her dealing with the kids. Max seems to be an observer – staying close enough but not about to allow himself to be “accosted”! But the protective nature of both surfaced for example when my grand-daughter, Deepali, was sledding in the snow in their back yard. As she slid down, both dogs were running on either side of her, keeping pace with her sled as if to make sure that she was safe as is evident in this short video clip.

Kaya, as those how have come into contact with her know, is not the brightest of dogs – Saira refers to her as a “special needs” case – but she is a very sweet-natured dog. Max is intelligent and a quick learner and affectionate but does keep his distance if he thinks he is going to be hassled. But it is Kaya who is the more alert of the two – she is the one who is first aware of anyone or anything that is in our yard and will react first by barking with Max following suit but being the more aggressive one after Kaya has sounded the alarm. This is very evident when both the dogs are on the deck in our backyard. Kaya first spots the deer that come to our backyard and barks and Max will bound down the deck and chase the deer even as Kaya just observes. It is almost as if she is saying: “I saw them first ………. now you deal with it!”

Contrast the earlier image of Kaya laying contentedly on the floor while the kids were playing with her with the video clip below where Max takes a limited amount of close interfacing with one of the kids and then pretty much decides that’s enough and moves away:

Anyway, just a few observations about our two dogs ……… perhaps there is nothing much that should be read into how they react to various situations or perhaps John Gray should collaborate with an expert on dogs and produce a canine equivalent of Mars and Venus!

Incidentally, the children are never left to play unsupervised with the dogs because although they are very gentle and protective of the children and the family, in the ultimate analysis they are dogs and can be unpredictable.

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3 Responses to “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus ……. is there a canine equivalent?”

  1. Saira says:

    Well, I really loved this post…and Papa, you must be missing your dogs because you speak of them with such affection :)…

    I also like the disclaimer at the end about the children not being left unattended with the dogs…pretty funny.

    The irony to me is that despite the fact that Kaya never had a litter of her own, she does treat our kids like her own. She’s like Nana from Peter Pan.

  2. TJ says:

    I figured this post would appeal to you, Saira! Re the purported “disclaimer”, it is less that than an attempt to pre-empt any comments from other dog owners who read this post and watch the video clips, cautioning against the risks involved in leaving young children unattended with dogs. Even the best behaved dogs can be unpredictable.

    Did you hear about the news anchor whose face was bitten pretty badly while on live TV? She brought her face next to the dog’s mouth to kiss the dog and got bitten. Needed 70 stitches, I believe.


    BTW, this post took me longer than usual because I was learning how to include streaming video on the blog – other than through the use of Youtube clips which is pretty straightforward.

  3. Saira says:

    i did hear about that anchor because she is a Gannett employee…

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