10. I’m not really a people person.
Dogs love people. It’s why they are so popular; they love us and we love them right back. That strong bond has been cemented over thousands of years, and is now unbreakable. There are a tiny minority of anti-social dogs, but that’s mainly our fault for treating or breeding them wrongly. In the main dogs can’t wait to meet – and lick - as many people as possible.
9. You go without me; I’ll be fine on my own./ Oh you’re home – I didn’t notice you’d gone.
When you have a dog you never leave or arrive unnoticed. Even if I’m just out emptying the trash, there’s at least one cold, wet and very sad nose pressed up against the window or door, seeing where I’m going and why I haven’t taken the owner of the nose with me. The excitement my dogs exhibit when they think we’re going on an outing switches instantly to dejection if they realise they are not actually accompanying me. But dogs don’t hold a grudge, so when I get back, I am treated to a lavish greeting, whether I’ve been a month or a minute.
8. I’m absolutely full – I couldn’t eat another thing.
Okay, I live with a Labrador, the canine equivalent of a dustbin who will happily Hoover up his own food, his fellow dog’s food, any leftovers coming his way, and still be eyeing the treat jar mournfully. Most dogs are the same. I guess it comes from the instinct that served them so well in the wild; “Eat now, you never know where the next meal’s coming from!” Well, he knows jolly well that the next meal is coming from me, and is served up regularly enough to stave off actual starvation, but he just can’t bring himself to act that way.
7. I’ll wipe my muddy feet before I come in.
I hate the winter months when it’s wet and muddy and my floors are constantly decorated with dog pawprints. Living in Britain, there are many summer months when it’s wet enough to produce the same effect. My dogs are never aware of it though. On a similar vein, it seems to be a physical law that the muddier the dog the faster it gravitates to the couch.
6. I’ve washed my fur and I can’t do a thing with it.
Dogs have no idea what they look like, so whether you’ve given them a dreadful haircut (Poodle) (some Poodles anyway!), or their fur grows in weird extravagant dreadlocks (Komondor), or they are developing bald patches, they still approach life with the same enthusiasm. More to the point they still approach us with the same enthusiasm, and they expect to be treated no differently. No hiding under a hat, or wasting hours brooding for them. We could learn a lot from that.
5. There’s the doorbell – you get it.
No self-respecting dog can ever ignore a doorbell. It could be a potential intruder who needs to be repelled, in which case he needs to race there first and do some repelling. Alternatively, it could be a friendly visitor who can obviously only be popping round to visit the dogs, in which case the dog has to get there and claim some attention. Either way, the doorbell is a signal a dog has to react to.
4. I can’t sleep tonight.
He might pause long enough to turn round three times before he lies down, but that’s as far as it goes. As soon as his head hits the dog bed, or the couch, or maybe your bed, he is spark out. Probably snoring too. Insomnia is not a canine concept.
3. Have you gained weight?
That is not an enquiry you are ever going to have to field from your dog. To a dog you are the sum of your behaviours to him. He reads your every movement, he scents your every mood, and he lives for every touch from you. Even if you had gained weight, he would never mention it. And frankly, if he noticed he wouldn’t care anyway.
2. That is just too disgusting for me to sniff or eat it.
For an animal with such an allegedly sensitive sense of smell dogs will shove their nose into some truly offensive material. Just watch your dog on a walk, and you’ll see what I mean. I think the following story illustrates my point.
I remember one day when both my daughter and my dog were younger. We were sitting on the couch, and everything was well with the world. Suddenly my daughter threw up. I leapt to my feet (I was younger too!) wondering whether to strip myself, my daughter or my couch of our vomit strewn clothing. My dog leapt to his feet too. His eye held a strange twinkle, his tail wagged, and his mind was clearly full of one word – “Dinner!”
1. I disagree.
This has to be number one because it is the single biggest contribution to the strength of the relationship between humans and dogs. We perceive that they support, empathise with, and love us because they don’t contradict or disagree with us. We tell them our problems, we confide our secrets, we cry into their fur and they are always there for us.
I believe mostly they do support, empathise with and love us; take a look into your dog’s eyes, and I think you’ll agree. One thing’s for sure – he won’t be telling you any different.
This top ten is based on sharing my life (and couch) with a Labrador and a Bichon Frise. It will probably apply to most breeds, but if you live with a breed that has taught you different, let me know.