Saturday, 20 July 2019

The Saturday List #224 -Six reasons your dog feels sorry for you

Kira enjoying herself
Do you know that feeling, when you are half awake and half asleep and you are not quite sure whether you are dreaming or not? Sometimes strange and inexplicable things happen, sometimes you wake up with a start and are not quite sure. Well last night, I got in rather late from having a drink with friends at the Mill Hill Services Club. The last job of the night is to take our two dogs out for a comfort break. Usually when we return, I'll have a cup of tea and sit down for ten minutes with them to settle them down. We have two dogs. Both are rescue dogs and have stress issues. Bruno is eight and resembles a large Labrador. He is fairly chilled out in the house and would love to be a lapdog, but he's a 40kg beast. He loves a cuddle and is very affectionate. When he gets in he just lollops on the couch. Kira is a white german shepherd. She's around 18 months old and is still very nervous. When we are on a walk, she is a model dog. She has great recall, she will fetch a ball and really enjoys it. She will placidly return to me to be put on the lead and is happy to be petted. As soon as we get in the house, she won't come near me. We assume that she was maltreated, which is why she ended up with the RSPCA. She is fine with my wife and daughter, but in the house, she gives me a wide berth, until its time for a walk, when she will be fine. She is an incredibly intelligent dog, unlike Bruno who is lovable but stupid. The first time I took her to Mill Hill Park, she slipped the lead and ran straight home, having only walked the path on the way up. Once she realised that I was a friend on a walk, she instantly developed recall and learned to fetch balls.

As she is nervous, she benefits from some time to chill, before we go to bed. So as I went through my routine, got a cup of tea and sat down, she settled into her bed, at the other end of the house. I started reading a magazine, had a few sips of tea and my mind started to wander. Then a very strange thing happened. Kira came up and nuzzled me. This does happen very, very occasionally when I am still and chilled. I gave her a stroke, then something very strange happened. I could hear her speaking to me. This was not vocally, but I could feel her thoughts and that she wanted to talk to me. I was intrigued, so I said "What's up Kira?". She replied "I really feel sorry for people". This surprised me. I've always thought humans were the ones who felt sorry for dogs. She then explained. Here are her reasons.

1. People don't know how to enjoy themselves. She said "When we are on a walk, it is amazing, you are outside, you can run, there are lots of smells and sights, there are other people on the way, but you ignore them. If I see a dog and it is friendly, I play with it, but if you see someone you like the look of, you still ignore them. I can tell because I can smell when humans like people".

2. People don't know how to show their emotions. She explained "When mum comes home, I am really pleased to see her, so I greet her and let her know. You just grunt. But then, when people you don't like visit, you are overly friendly to them, even though you don't trust them".

3. People don't know how to clean themselves. She explained "If a dog has something which is annoying it, we will clean it. Humans couldn't do this even if the wanted to." Replied "We have showers", she replied "Once a day, dogs clean themselves all the time, especially the bits that smell".

4. People don't enjoy their food. She explained "A dog knows the value of food. If I have a bone, it is precious and really good to eat. I don't want to share it with Bruno, even though I like it. You are always sharing your food. That is really stupid".

5. People don't know how to tell when other people wish them ill. She explained "A dog will instantly know if another dog doesn't like them. They give off strong body language. Humans do the same but they seem oblivious to it. When people who are ill meaning come to the door, you tell us to be quiet, even though we are protecting you. That is very stupid".

6. People get angry over nothing. She explained "Dogs get angry if you tread on their tail,  steal their bone or mistreat them. We also get angry if we are treated unfairly. However people sit around doing nothing and all of a sudden are angry with each other, it is difficult to understand why and makes us nervous".

At that point I stirred with a start. Kira was sitting in her bed, looking at me in a rather strange fashion. Wheras normally I could remember nothing of such interstate moments, I could recall every word and quickly noted it. As with many things, I am not entirely sure whether it was my imagination or a moment of connection. This morning, she was back to her usual self. Good on the walk, now sitting in her bed. I've often wondered what dogs think about and whether they actually think about human behaviour. Oddly a former housemate of mine had a very similar experience with my old cat. He'd taken LSD at the time, which I thought offered a sensible explanation. Last night, I'd had a couple of pints of Carlsberg. The odd thing is that all of the observations make perfect sense from a dog's perspective, but I really don't see much prospect of people changing their behaviour.

I would suggest to all dog owners, that they give some consideration to the idea that maybe the reason their dog takes such good care of them is because the dog is feeling sorry for them. With that in mind, maybe we should give our dogs a bit more affection and appreciation than we sometimes do. Whether or not it was genuine bona-fide communication or a dream, I feel I have learned something.

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