This is Mies, the younger of my two Weimaraners. To make a long story short, he was returned to our breeder when he was six months old. She posted his picture (along with a few choice epithets thrown in to describe the idiots returning him) to her email list, saying he needed a good home. Oslo – who is actually Mies’s nephew – was eight months old at the time. I had rebuffed Will’s suggestion that we get two dogs if we were going to get any at all, thinking one dog in the city was enough. But Mies looked so precious and lovely that we invited him over for a one-night stand. That non-committal tryst turned into six years and counting of two dogs in the city, long walks in the woods, short walks around the block, several mangled prized possessions, and hours of smiles and laughter. In short, a chaotic love affair.
There are three things this little dog possesses in abundance: good looks, charm and mischief. Our list of Things Mies Has Ruined is quite long. I’d like to tell you about one item on that unfortunately long list.
Maybe it was a year ago, maybe two, when I first discovered the work of Molly Wizenberg, aka Orangette. There are three things to admire about Molly: her photography; her writing; and her city, Seattle. Oh, wait. Make that four, and then five: her appreciation of dogs and her restaurant.
After reading her blog for a while, I knew I had to have her book. So I ordered it. I started reading it. I left it on my nightstand. I went to work. Mies ate it. (!!) I got mad. (!!!) He looked sad and wagged his tail. I hugged him, kissed his nose, thanked the universe that it was only a $15 book and not my $400 Eames rocker, and ordered another one.
I devour books, too, but…ahem…not in the same way Mies does. He’s eaten several, this little literary hound. So many, in fact, that removing books from his reach is one of the things on our Lock-This-Door-Latch-That-One-And-For-God’s-Sake-Whatever-You-Do-Don’t-Forget-To-Put-That-Away list that we perform religiously before leaving these grey ghosts home alone.
I think about this list and our Weimaraners. About beauty and transgression. About aesthetics and forgiveness. I think and I ponder and I muse: do Weimaraners get away with more because they’re beautiful? Are we more forgiving of beautiful things? I try to stay mad at Mies when he ruins my stuff, but it’s hard. I mean, scroll back up. Look at that face and tell me that Weimaraners aren’t beautiful. I dare you.
Research shows that we’re more lenient with physically attractive people, so I’m assuming it works for dogs (and products and interfaces, too). In Beautiful but Dangerous: Effects of Offender Attractiveness and Nature of the Crime on Juridic Judgment, Harold Sigall and Nancy Ostrove of the University of Maryland explore the effects of aesthetics on punishment:
Can beautiful people get away with murder? Although Dion (1972) found no differences in the punishment recommended for offenders as a function of attractiveness, Monahan (1941) has suggested that beautiful women are convicted less often of crimes they are accused of, and Efran (1974) has recently demonstrated that subjects are much more generous when assigning punishment to good-looking as opposed to unattractive transgressors.
The previous findings which indicate a tendency toward leniency for an attractive offender can be accounted for in a number of ways. For example, one might explain such results with the help of a reinforcement-affect model of attraction (e.g., Byrne & Clore, 1970). Essentially, the argument here would be that beauty, having positive reinforcement value, would lead to relatively more positive affective responses toward a person who has it. Thus we like an attractive person more, and since other investigators have shown that liking for a defendant increases leniency (e.g., Landy & Aronson, 1969), we would expect good-looking (better liked) defendants to be punished less than unattractive defendants. Implicit in this reasoning is that the nature of
the affective response, which influences whether kind or harsh treatment is recommended, is determined by the stimulus features associated with the target person. Therefore, when other things are equal, benefit accrues to the physically attractive.
and this in Foundations of Psychology by Nicky Hayes:
There are a number of studies which show that we react more positively to people that we find physically attractive. In particular, we tend to act much more favorably towards such people. This has a number of social implications. One of them, for example, is that attractive children are often treated much more leniently than unattractive children when they are naughty.
Mies, you naughty, beautiful, lucky hound.