Saturday, October 3, 2009

October 3, 2009 - Talk to Me


"There's facts about dogs, and then there's opinions about them. The dogs have the facts, and the humans have the opinions. If you want the facts about the dog, always get them straight from the dog. If you want opinions, get them from humans."-- J. Allen Boone

It's so true. Talking with dogs, especially pugs, can be very enlightening about what goes on in their doggy worlds, and in their doggy heads. We have many conversations - two-sided ones - here at the Shady Rest. Here's an example from yesterday:

Mama Ky: Archie?
Archie: Hmm?
Mama Ky: Why are you trying to push the empty toner box into the litter box with your head?
Archie: I may be old and blind, but I'm still a pug. It's a pug thing.
Mama Ky: Oh. So, labs retrieve because that's a lab thing, and corgis herd because it's a corgi thing, and you push things around with your head because it's a pug thing?
Archie: Yup.
Mama Ky: You know your butt's cute when you do that. It wiggles.
Archie: Quit watching my butt. I'm busy.

You just know that GSD owners don't have these little talks...

I talk to other dogs too, not just my own, but honestly, pugs are usually better conversationalists. For one, they're more inquisitive. Some breeds are inclined to just accept human behavior as it is, but pugs want to know why. They are very interested in their world and they ask questions.

"Yes, Heff?"
"When you push the thingy on the big bowl and everything goes away, where does it go? I watch and watch, but can't see."
"That's the joy of living in the city, Heff. It all just goes away. Far away, so Mama doesn't have to worry about it."
"That's a good thing, then?"
"Yes, Heff, it's good."

Sometimes you gain insights into things you thought you knew.

"Why do you keep licking Heff's tail? You've been at it for a good ten minutes now. Does it just taste good, or is it some kind of dominance thing?"
"Because if I'm licking his tail, he can't reach my ears to chew on them, and if I don't do something, I'm going to kill him. I am SO tired of the ear-chewing thing today."
"Ah, that makes sense."

I've always been a big proponent of asking the dog. In our dealings with our dogs, we tend to tell, not ask; order, not request; talk AT but not talk TO. We expect them to learn our language and read our feelings and wants, but too rarely are we willing to do the same for them. No, dogs don't "talk" in the sense of forming coherent words and sentences; they don't have the mouth structure or the brain wiring for it. That does not, however, mean they do not communicate. They do, and quite fluently, if you learn to listen. Body movements, muscle tension, facial expression (dogs smile, wolves don't - it's a learned behavior from watching us), sounds, gestures and sometimes, if you're quiet enough to hear it, actual thoughts.

Yes, I'm well aware that a substantial portion of the population would have me medicated or worse for believing that there is more to human-dog communication than just body language and vocal tone, but so be it - I do. I think telepathy is like the ability to play the piano; some people have a talent for it, others have to work at it, but everyone can do it to one degree or another, and if you don't use the ability, it atrophies. I also tend to think that dogs do it naturally and don't have our hang-ups about it, so they try, whether we're listening or not.

So, as George and I exchange morning greetings as we pass in the hall, that's my Shady Rest advice for the day: to enrich your life with your dog, talk to him...and listen.

Ya'll take care now.


  1. I talk to the dogs all the time. Although I sometimes wish I didn't understand them. They would be in a lot less trouble if they didn't tell me EVERYTHING they do. LOL They remind me of furry little toddlers. :)

    Love ya!


  2. Yes, one does run the risk of hearing things one would rather not, and you can't believe everything you hear either.