My dog, Polly, has never been much of a barker. But in the last few weeks, she’s done more barking than usual. Sometimes, she just stands in a room and barks. Today, she has been particularly bothered by something, and has been barking on and off all afternoon and evening. Since she’s not normally this vocal, I know something is up with her, but I just don’t know what. Now you can say dogs can’t talk, and you’d be correct. But dogs can communicate just fine. We humans just have to learn how to read them. And the best part about dogs is that they don’t judge, they don’t ignore you, and they don’t monopolize the conversation.
When Polly barks, I run through the usual questions with her. Is Timmy in the well? Is there an intruder in the house? Is a burglar stealing the Scooby Doo treats? Has someone violated the perimeter? Just asking these questions and petting her little head usually calms her down.
Our conversations are not limited to when she is barking. We talk all the time. Every morning, we have the time to get up talk. She loves to sleep, and when I get up to take a shower, she sometimes assumes my position, usually with at least one cat cuddling by her side. Sometimes she even gets under the covers and lays her head on my pillow. It’s adorable. It’s tough to have to break it to her that we have to get up and go downstairs. Time for her to go outside and then have some breakfast. She always looks a little sad at the getting up part, but the promise of breakfast puts a spring in her step.
When I get home from work, we spend some quality time together on the couch. She climbs into my lap, and puts her paws up on my shoulders, and lays down on top of me. It’s the best hug in the world. She looks to me for the day’s news. I tell her how my day went, and she listens intently. Her eyes and head tilts tell me what she’s thinking, and how her day was. I ask her the typical questions. Did you have a good nap? Did you play with the kitties? Did you play with your toys? If she’s been outside, I ask if she saw any bunnies. Squirrels? Doggies? Kitties? People?
If I’ve had a bad day, she seems to know it. She’s always at the ready with extra attention, just when I need it. If I’m sick, she cuddles up next to me and rides it out with me. And she seems to know when she has to back off a little. After I had surgery, she kept a little distance, but still was there to check on me and comfort me throughout my recovery. And when I was going through chemo, she understood I was just out of commission sometimes, and couldn’t give her much of my attention. But she was always there when I felt up to company.
We also talk when it’s bedtime. She knows the routine…when I get up off the couch, she goes out for one last romp before bed. On the way to the door, I tell her it’s time for bed, and how tired we are. She agrees, and trots out for a quick one. We climb the stairs together, commiserating over our aching joints, and she jumps up to warm up the bed. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful companion. Sweet dreams, little Polly!