Our doggie, Una, has a sense of humor. Her taste is decidedly geared towards broader humor. She doesn't get verbal humor, partly because, as The Gryphon reminded me recently, much of her 500-word potential vocabulary is taken up by remembering different nicknames for herself. She does understand silliness, though, and she loves it.
You might ask how I can tell when Una finds something funny. She breaks out into a wide-mouthed grin, her eyes light up, she gets noticeably bouncier, and she rivets her attention on whatever she finds amusing.
What sorts of things amuse her, you might ask?
- Me giving our kitty, Luke, a pill. For some reason, every time she sees me with the pill plunger, she follows me with a big, goofy grin on her face. She watches with delight as I pry open his mouth and use the plunger to place a pill in the back of his throat. I guess you could call this schadenfreude.
- Silly voices. She loves this, especially when I do it. It doesn't matter what you say; as long as you use a silly voice, you've got her rapt attention. That is, unless you throw in the word "bath."
- Bad song parodies. When I'm in the mood, I sing a familiar song, changing the lyrics to incorporate either Una's name or some facts about our current situation. For example, the oft-sung "Una Las Vegas," or the equally popular "What's Up, Fluffybutt?"
- Slapstick. Una loves broad, ridiculous movements, for example, when I dance jubilantly. This seems to both excite and interest her. If she's in the wrong mood, though, weird movements freak her out. Like the time when my brother and were acting like monkeys, and she kept barking. Perhaps she thought we'd contracted a monkey contagion and was trying to scare it out of us.
You might say that she's just picking up on my mood and reacting to my tone of voice. That may well be, except that there are things she doesn't find funny.
- Verbal wit. Spending as much time with Una as I do, I often express my ideas aloud to her, simply because she's the only one around, and Luke is off pouting, having just had his mouth pried open and a pill shoved in. At such times, I might crack jokes about whatever's on my mind. These comments are met with disinterest. I guess I need to sell the joke more.
- Prerecorded movies and TV shows. No matter what's on that blinky box, she's not interested. I guess she's just one of those elite East Coast intellectuals: "I don't watch television. I think it diminishes me." Rest assured that if Jack Black were here in person, dancing like crazy and singing a ridiculous song, she'd be grinning ear to ear.
Even though, admittedly, a good deal of her reaction probably comes from understanding tone of voice and appreciating the discongruity of the situation, she doesn't respond every time. Some days, she's simply not in the mood and yawns or starts licking her feet, disinterestedly. Everybody's a critic.
Once an act has lost its novelty, she's no longer amused. Something that made her smile yesterday won't necessarily get a reaction today. Except for giving Luke a pill. That's a sure crowd pleaser every time. Which reminds me: Luke had an allergic flare-up recently, and it's time for his daily pill. It's show time!
Dogs would laugh at a prat fall but not a pun.