Scientists seem pretty confident that our pet companions do not experience love in the same way as their human “masters”. But they revised the long-standing scientific belief that dogs do not really understand what we are saying. For many years, science held that dogs did not understand the words, they simply reacted to minute changes in tone, vocal inflection, and facial expressions.
Now, scientists believe what many dog people have known all along…our canine pals understand the meanings of specific words and then communicate back with “facial” expressions and body posture.
It is easy to translate “Let’s play!” with the wide-opened eyes, the lolling tongue, and the erect ears. It is a lot harder to translate a dog’s “I love you”, even though virtually ever person who has ever had a close canine companion will say they can recognize the canine expression of love.
It has been a while since I updated the status of our last, elderly greyhound “Jack”.
He continues to chug along and we have sat next to him on many recent evenings, certain that “this would be Jack’s last week”. But, the old man still clicks on. His gait is uneven and there is little resemblance in it to the stately greyhound gait mentioned in Proverbs 31. He totters about in the garden and on a “good” day he sticks that long nose into the fall air and smells things I cannot. Even on “bad” days, Jack will put that same needle nose into the grass and read the “pee mail” our little hound, Adi, has left for him. Jack responds with his own message…
…a feat that takes a lot longer and a circumstance many human males can relate to as they age.
Jack’s hearing is a lot more selective and we have to augment our spoken words with exaggerated arm movements. I am sure that the neighbors think we practice Tai Chi. They have only recently gotten used to our meditation mats on the back deck.
After a while, Jack signals that he is ready to go back inside. We feed him a lot of very small meals now and he knows that a “potty trip” also means there will be food in his bowl. Despite his “wobbles”, Jack still works up a few steps of his famous “Supper Dance” just before the bowl is put down for him.
Then, it is time for him to return to his mat for another snooze.
And, while Jack has always had a personality that can be best described as “similar to Private Pyle” (a mentally slow character in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket), occasionally the lights come on in the building and Jack reciprocates in his own language.
Most of the time Jack is slow and mechanical seeming more plantlike than canine (not a recent development), but lately, his expressions soften (even for a greyhound) and you can see (and feel) “I love you” in his face. Maybe its our imagination, but he most frequently makes the “I love you expression” after we have carried him to the garden, after a meal, or when we snuggle him into his cherished “Penguin Blanket”…a staple of his life during the winter months.
So, no matter what the scientists say, we are certain our dog buddies can communicate to us what is so hard for so humans to say with sincerity…
…”I love you and ‘thanks’ for being here.”
Have a wonderful Shabbat and may the following week be a good one for you!