Dog-speak

April 15, 2008

I love how dogs and humans communicate. It’s usually a limited list of things they want: food, play, and affection. In the morning, usually when I write my blog, the dogs will come downstairs to be with me. More precisely, to sit and stare at me to let me know that breakfast time is now. I tell them they have to wait, they both let out a big sigh, and sit down next to me until I’m ready to feed them. Then, when I make a move toward the kitchen, they both go racing there for the feeding ritual to begin. When I put the food down, Daniel has trained them to sit until we say OK. During these few moments of torture, Cody looks up at me sincerely, eyebrow crinkled, waiting for the word. Giaco is crouched, and ready to spring toward his food.

The next communication is the “let’s play” look. I’ll be working, when all of a sudden there is a nose between my legs and a tail wagging wildly. I open my legs to find a mischievous looking Giaco giving me an irresistible look. I put on my shoes, and they know that their request will come true. I say “ball?” and they leap into the air.

Sometimes I decide that I will surprise them, and get ready to play ball. What is odd, is that whenever I do that, regardless of where they are in the house, they KNOW what I’m up to and come running to me, as though they picked it up via ESP.

Both of our dogs show affection in different ways. Giaco hugs (sic). If you are sitting, he will come up and drape his front legs over your shoulder and put the side of his face against the side of your face. He then stands here for a while and wags his tail. It’s the darnedest thing. His dismount is a bit awkward, but it is a cute habit. Then he leaves you alone.

Cody, on the other paw, is a lap dog at heart and wants to always be touching a human whenever possible. Sometimes he whines to let us know he wants to be in our lap. We’ve scolded him about this annoying habit, and so the whine has morphed into the teeniest, quietest little micro-whine that we can, of course, both hear, no matter where he is.

There is also that look when children or puppies come over. Cody will look at me with that “what were you thinking? Get this child/puppy out of my house. Now.” look on his face.

I remember Stan used to test his dog on word recognition. He’s say: “Do you want a wookie?” Dog does not respond. “How ’bout a hookie!” Dog moves in frustration. “A bookie?” More frustration. “Or would you like a COOKIE!” And the dog leaps into the air.

We have tried this with using the tone of “Want to go for a walk?” but used some sick words like “Wanna cut your head off?” And the dogs are equally thrilled. Tone is everything.

Finally, there is the “I better get out of here” leave-the-room response where the dog’s answer is clear. This answer is common when we ask: “Who wants a bath?” or “Wanna cut your toenails?” or “Time to brush your teeth.” Cody’s ears go down, knowing it’s futile to escape. Giaco runs to hide under a chair somewhere.

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