Saturday, January 29, 2011

Conversations with Sheila

I talk to the dogs. Everybody talks to their dogs. Often conversation with dogs tends to be monosyllabic. "Down." "Sit." "Stay." Fuller conversations might include things like "good girl" or "treat time." Occasionally I will talk to Lizzie or Polly as I would to a person. they don't pay much attention, or look at me as if wondering what language I'm speaking.

Sheila understands me.

Sitting at night at the dinner table, when I have finished my food and have no treats to share with the dogs, I look at Sheila and say quietly, "I'm finished eating, but he's still eating." The other dogs continue to look at me, hope in their eyes. Sheila immediately looks at Walt and goes to sit next to him.

Or at breakfast after I've given them each a crust of my toast, Lizzie and Polly keep hoping for more, but when I say "that's it" and hold my hands up, Sheila immediately leaves the table and goes back to her post in the living room, protecting us from dog walkers, trash collectors, and students walking to school.

guardSheila.jpg (44140 bytes)

I occasionally lock the dogs in the house, when Lizzie gets a bee in her bonnet and can't be outside without barking. Sometimes I forget that the dog door is closed. And then at some point I open it, but by then, the dogs have already tried to get out and have given up. Sheila will sit in my office, looking at me, eyes crossed because she has to pee. I'll say, quietly, "you know the dog door IS open." Immediately she whirls around and goes out the dog door.

It's surprising, sometimes, how much she seems to respond appropriately when you speak to her in sentences.

Lizzie doesn't talk to me, but she reads my mind. She can be out in the back yard and I can be thinking about leaving the house and she'll be in here in a flash, ready to get the treat that I give the dogs whenever I go out, or return home. She watches me like a hawk for any movement, however slight, which might indicate that there is a possibility of a treat in her future.

For Polly, it's non-verbal. When she climbs into my lap, snuggles herself into my armpit, lays her head across my chest, then looks up and licks me on the nose before sighing and settling her head back on my chest again with a happy sigh, you don't need words to know what she's saying.

Happy Birthday, Paul (1/28 ... which is when I wrote this)

1 comment:

Larry said...

Some dogs just get it. I have one named Bandit that seems to comprehend similar statements from me.