I’m no expert on canine behavior, but I do know a few things about dogs.
I make it a point to catch the Westminster Kennel Club finals each February on Animal Planet. I know my breeds and have my favorites: the spaniels, the poodles, the beagles, and the terriers. Each one carries its own singular message confidently around the ring—tail held high, a bounce in the step, a sly grin on soft black lips, as if to say, “Pick me. I’m the one.”
I say, “as if to say” because those dogs aren’t actually saying the words. They are putting ideas in our heads. Which is no small feat in itself.
When I was single, I had a cocker spaniel-poodle mix. Like most clever dogs, Jorge could tell me when he needed to go out, when there was a stranger in the yard, or when it was 5 p.m. and time to stop working. But he could also say, “this water is funky; please change it,” and “yes, I’d like some of that steak but a smaller piece,” and “let’s walk on the other side of the street where it’s shady,” all without speaking a word. Projecting mental pictures with those wide set brown eyes, using cockapoo telepathy alone, he commanded a remarkably precise vocabulary.
What’s more, he was such a good listener! As evolved and self-contained as any Bodhisattva, that suave little guy would proudly squire me around the park—an attentive witness to my innermost thoughts and a quiet, constant advocate in spite of all my failings. Adoring my every iota. […]