Can I talk to you about dogs’ ears? Strange topic, I know, but as a lifetime “cat person,” I really never grasped the communication potential of these limber appendages until Sorcia came into our lives. (Cats express their emotions — mostly disdain and irritation — through a twitching tail.)
It’s amazing how expressive a German Shepherd’s ears can be. They are so huge and pointy and flexible – and they are so in tune with her expressions. And yes, she uses them to manipulate us.
When Sorcia is alert – or trying to look extra cute – they stand straight up at attention. This is her I-Love-You-Do-You-Have-Chicken-For-Me? pose. Yes, we feed her raw chicken. Yum.
Of course, ears flat down on the back of her head is a sad, sad doggie. Reprimand her, and that’s what you get. She also uses it to look really pitiful when she’s outside the door and wants to come in. “Ears down” has become our family phrase to express unhappiness.
Bob: They didn’t have your brand of yogurt at the grocery store, Dianne.
Dianne: Oh, ears down, Bob. Ears down!
I had no idea that German Shepherds can make their ears do two separate things! For example, if Bob reprimands Sorcia for wanting to eat the toy poodle next door, she will flatten the ear next to Bob (Total submission to you, Alpha Male), while pointing the other ear aggressively toward that poodle. (You just wait until he’s not around!!!)
We especially love the swiveling radar dish ears, which comes along with a cocked head for times when Sorcia is puzzled. The children’s voices coming out of the intercom box? That gets us the swiveling ears. She can hear the children, but that box is not the children. How confusing! Swivel ears, cock head; swivel ears the other way, cock head.
And finally, one ear forward and one back is for frustration, such as when she sees a really high-scoring word in Scrabble and it’s killing her because she can’t tell us.