It is a warm, nearly hot, sunny summer morning. And yet, my feet are tucked under Story as I sit and type this out. Even with the heat, the weight of his body and the wooliness of his fur on my feet feel just about perfect.
Just so you know, almost everything I have written in the past four years has been written with my feet under Story, he has been present for every one of my articles.
And while he has been present and with me, I have no idea what he is thinking. Not an inkling.
And this is okay with me. I am fully aware that dogs have dreams, desires, thoughts, and opinions all their own. I do too. I think all mammals do, we are all sentient beings after all.
Because of my line of work, I can most of the time tell you how an animal is feeling with the subtlest of cues, on a spectrum more or less, from calm to cautious, all the way to jacked up arousal or maybe medically unwell, and everything in between. And yet, I cannot tell you what your dog is thinking.
Often times I am told by dog owners that “I don’t want my dog to think that just because …”
~ I left the kitchen garbage out and he got into it that he can do it again.
~ grandpa let him sleep on the bed that he can do it every night.
~ he chased a deer while hiking the other day he can do it again.
~ etc, as in a forever list of don’t even ‘think’ about it.
I really believe it is fear in the human that drives this train of thought, fear of the unknown, fear because of lack of understanding, fear that their dog might be over their skill level, and fear of not knowing their whole dog and only wanting to know the ‘good and polite’ side of their dog.
To be honest, if you don’t have a crystal ball, and you are not a Zen Master of seeing into ones own nature, and you are inept at reading and translating eye movements, then you need to give yourself permission to be okay with your dog having thoughts all their own, independent of you.
You cannot control what your dog thinks.
You can however make better choices for management both in and out of the home. And you can get to know your whole dog as you mature together, grow together, and spend quality time together. You can also become more proficient at reading body language. And you can also become better at building your skills as your dogs trainer. This is all stuff you can control.
While my toes are wiggling under Story right now, and I am still typing, I am thinking about the raspberries my son is picking, the toast with honey and nut butter that awaits me as soon as I get up, the laundry that needs to be done, lots and lots of laundry that needs to be done, the peas that need to be picked, the cars that need to be washed, the mail that needs to be answered, should I cut my hair, what did my husband say in conversation last night that made me pause and think about our time overseas, and how I want to rearrange my room this week, and, and, and, and, and. I rarely have one thought, its generally a jumble of things, a daily punch list, reminders, remembrances, pauses in life, just stuff … Some days light and some days heavy.
I would like to believe it isn’t too different from my dogs, sans all the laundry business.