Over the years, readers of this column may have encountered a dog called Larry. His name is neither his fault nor mine; it was inherited from the SPCA where we adopted him as a puppy 10 years ago. Larry is 50% Labrador and 50% who-knows-what. He was a fine athlete in his prime, but old age and arthritis are getting the better of him. Still, he’s a beautiful canine being, from his noble snout to his ever-wagging tail. Like all dogs, he has a pure soul: infinitely trusting, infinitely loyal, infinitely hopeful that it’s time for supper or a tummy-scratch or a visit to the park. He’s clever enough — sit, stay, that sort of thing — but as his younger human siblings learned to walk, talk and read, his limited cognitive abilities have been exposed. Emotional intelligence is more his thing. He has empathy in abundance. He shows sincere contrition for his transgressions (almost always involving stolen food). He can read the mood in a room better than most people, although he’s never been ve...

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