What queer disease is this that comes over you every day, of holding things and staring at them like that for hours together, paralyzed of motion and vacant of all conscious life?
~ William James, Of a Certain Blindness in Human Beings
James imagines a dog puzzled by his master’s behavior reading a book. When dogs insist on cheeky questions like this it’s easy to take offense and demand, in return, why they insist on licking their own exits. But don’t give in to impatience. Remember that your pet, for all his fluent English, has only a very small brain. Smile indulgently, pat him on the head, and explain that it’s just your way of sniffing around for scents left by others.