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The Mysterious Shakety-Shake

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leadAll dogs do it.  Ricky does it.  But what I want to know is why does a dog shake his ears like that?

Let’s be clear.  When Ricky comes galloping at me from a distance, ears streaming behind him Dumbo-style — that’s not what I’m talking about.  When he tries to “kill” one of his stuffed animals by locking on it with his jaws and violently thrashing his head from side to side — that’s not what I’m talking about.  When he reaches up desperately with his front paws in an #2attempt to nab a bagel off the counter, and his ears flow back due to gravity — that’s not what I’m talking about.

No, I’m talking about that very distinctive action — I’ve referred to it before in this blog as “shakety-shake” — of whipping his head rapidly and repeatedly from side to side that he does when he gets up from a resting position.  I’mbasset sure you’ve seen your dog do this.  And if you don’t see it, you hear it, because it comes with a very distinctive sound.

At 5 AM, the shakety-shake is the worst sound in the world. What it means is that Ricky has just woken up, and somebody needs to deal with him:  Take him outside, count out his pills, give him his breakfast.  (Remember when you had babies, and you heard those first cuteylittle whimpers, before they turned into full-fledged wails? Yeah, that kind of sound.)  At other times of the day, though, when I’m up and about, the shakety-shake is actually kind of cute and endearing:  Hey, Ricky’s back!  What up, Dog?

But what does it mean? And why does he do it? I’ve been asking dog people this question forever — and have never gotten a satisfactoryR answer.  Internet sites talk about a dog shaking to dry himself (duh), or because he has an ear infection — but that’s clearly not the case here.

Here’s what I think.  I think it means:  I’m gonna shake off the cobwebs and get myself going.  I’m gonna get my ass in gear and start knocking stuff off my to-do list.  Sniff . . . forage . . . eat . . . nap . . .

What do you think?  Lmk.  Actually, we’ll probably be hearing from Ricky himself on this, now that he’s a journalist . . .

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Categories: General
Hank Herman

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4 Responses

  1. Hank says:

    Interesting . . .

  2. Linda G says:

    I always thought that “shakety-shake” was a dog’s way of shaking off mites, ticks, or other crawly stuff that might’ve made it into their ears while they were asleep. You know, some kind of prehistoric survival thingy when they lived in the wild.

  3. Zelia Abbot says:

    Love the pictures!!! Yes, every dog I ever had did the same thing, only they didn’t confine it to just the morning, but any time after a snooze. I guess it’s their “got to get moving” move.

  4. Hank: DTB shakes his head like that first thing in the morning when he is slowly making his way out from under the covers. It gets quite warm and dark under the covers and I think he does that to get moving again. Before he shakes his head back and forth, he goes through a routine of stretching and lots of moaning. He has his own bed and sleeps in it every night. Around 4AM he crawls into bed with me to warm up.
    Mary