We are feeling, knowing, loving beings.
And Mummy can testify to that.
May’s comment: I am writing this high up in the sky, having left my dogs at home – still going over in my head how earlier in the day Darcy knew I was leaving … and she didn’t want to part ways with me.
I’ve read so many of your stories about your dogs reactions when you start packing – they seem to know. I can tell when Darcy’s antennas are up. She watches me – waiting to see if her House of Mutt bag (which is a cooler bag with orange rabbits all over it) comes out of not. When her bag comes out, she knows she is off to House of Mutt. If not, she wonders if we are all going together.
This time, it was a little different. She had watched me packing and her House of Mutt bag did not make an appearance. Her expectation must have been we’re going somewhere together. But when Dawid, her dog walker knocked on the door on a Sunday morning with the bags piled up by the door, she knew immediately this was not what she imagined. She knew this going for a walk was a decoy. She knew I would be gone when they come back. And the look on her face, her refusal to greet Dawid, how she stood behind me and how we hugged – I felt terrible for making her feel that way.
Other days when the dog walker comes and sometimes either Darcy or George would decide they didn’t want to go. George who goes stir crazy over anyone coming to the door, especially the dog walkers, he will make it very clear on certain days he is not going. He wouldn’t even want to say hello and he would stand behind me. This usually happens after I had left him on a trip. He tells me when he wants Mummy time.
I try as much as I can to take both Darcy and George with me whenever I travel – but not when it is too hot and uncomfortable for them. I seek out places where I can take them. To be honest, besides the usual means of transportation that I am familiar with, flying is stressful – not because of how they might behave but rather how the authorities can’t seem to make up their mind how dogs should travel. There have been several incidences when I held my breath wondering if we would be allowed on a flight or if we were allowed even on a train. And each of those times, Darcy became a different dog. She seems to understand when the situation is tenuous and she is not completely welcomed. She would walk to heel without being asked. When we’re inside airline lounges or even when we’re not allowed inside and we sit in the waiting areas, she would crawl up under the seat and “disappear”. She struggled not in the least when I put her inside her bag and once in the plane, she curled up and stay like that the entire flight.(This was our flight to Malta where Air Malta allow dogs under 10kg.)
And in a recent episode when we stood in a queue for a taxi and have already been turned down by a few who refused to take dogs, one came along and reluctantly agreed. He wanted them in the boot but I negotiated with him that one will be on my lap and the other in the well of the front passenger seat. Darcy never sits in the well of any cars ever. But this time she jumped not on the seat, as she usually does. Instead, she went straight into the well and during the whole 40 minutes of driving, she never attempted to come up to sit on my lap. She knew. Once again she showed intuitiveness of the situation at hand.
There’s a quiet street near us where I usually take Darcy and George in the mornings for their relief. It’s a dead-end street where we walk. We are city dogs so we have to do our business on the pavements. Still, a few years ago when I took Darcy to New York City, there’s this law that says dogs must do their business off the curb. Can you imagine how dangerous that can be in the big city? Somehow, that transpired and I taught her to pee off the curb – on the side streets. Years later, when we’re walking the pavement, Darcy’s preferred place to pee is off the curb, preferably on a pile of leaves, right up against a stationary car – for protection? That has always amused me. She’s not so fussy about doing her Nr. 2. In the early days, when she was still a pup, sometimes she would stop in the middle of the road and I would try to drag her all the way to the side – thankfully the couple of times it happened we were on a quiet residential street and another time, it must have been a Sunday morning and there were no cars. A few weeks ago, we were again at the quiet street near us when she suddenly had her dead weight stop to do a poo before we crossed over. Very unlike her and I immediately tried pulling her further to the side of the road. She did move along, but she had already left something behind. I hadn’t noticed, but she looked back at that one stool she had left in the road and then turned and looked at me. I swear, she was telling me to pick that up!!!
And there were times when they behaved like dogs would – like chasing a cat on the street and they know they shouldn’t but instincts get the better of them. Only a few days ago when she ran after a cat – thankfully on the quiet street, she stopped as soon as I called her name and walked back to me sheepishly. I scolded her as I put the leash back on – “Not to be trusted,” I scolded. “Naughty girl!” For the rest of the walk, she plodded along quietly as she hung her head. Sensing her mood, I felt bad and called her name. Each time she looked up at me with expectancy, waiting for the reassurance that I have forgiven her and I would love her again. I felt terrible for having shouted at her but it was my fear that got the better of me. It’s a quiet road where we go off leash, there’s the odd car pulling in to park and nothing more. What would have happened if that cat kept running onto the road – and she kept going?
None of the above are unusual and many of you have similar experiences. My dogs are not more human than yours. These are just tales from recent weeks which had made me think every time – they are not just dogs. They are thinking, knowing, feeling, loving beings. They are intuitive, in sync with my feelings, aware of the world around them and they hurt.
Sometimes I know I fight their corner too much especially in the realm of dog-friendly places. I challenge establishments when they say its their policy not to allow dogs. It frustrates me that for a nation of dog lovers, it is always the continental European restaurants that are more accepting of the concept that dogs are a part of our lives. This whole notion of health and safety is just one big excuse for those who are ignorant of what it really means.
At a recent change of policy at which was once dog-tolerant, I had walked in and one of the staff rushed over to tell me that dogs are no longer allowed. I asked why they’ve changed the policy. It’s management and one of the other staff said – you can tie your dogs outside (the hook was at the other end of the store where you can’t see them). I was so annoyed, I said, “Do you tie your children there too?” and walked out. There are dog thefts and there are lots of people walking past them – it’s a busy street. They just don’t get it that out dogs are part of our family and important to our lives. They are not just dogs.
But during those times when Darcy and George demonstrates their intuitiveness to our human rules, when they show their understanding of certain situations – I just want to tell all those non-doggy people that they should stop and look at these incredible creatures, that they should wake up to the fact that they are not just animals. We domesticated them – and they have responded in more ways than we care to give them. They may never be completely like us – thankfully not – for in some ways they are far better creatures than us humankind. We all know it – we are singing from the same hymn sheet – they love unconditionally. And I am ashamed of myself of the times when I am unforgiving in their ways. They need us and they depend on us for their survival as long as they live in our homes.