The third in a series to help you better communicate with your canine Friends.
Would it surprise you to know that all dogs—every breed—all over the world speak the same language? It’s true. But then, dogs have much simpler communications than we do. As I discussed in the introduction to this series, dogs use one word, usually a descriptive one, for common creatures and things they encounter. Everything you learn today is derived from my WIP young adult sci-fi novel, Lost Dogs.
As mentioned previously, all dogs refer to their kind as Friends. This is not to say that all dogs are always “friendly” to each other, but rather, that the default assumption for most dogs is to view almost all other dogs as desirable to meet and get to know. Certainly, there are limits to “friendship”: a dog may be defensive of its territory, barking to warn passing dogs not to come closer without permission. That’s not so different from humans: though we may love or like many people, we also keep them at some form of distance, even if it’s just to preserve one’s own living space.
And of course, there are exceptions: Tequila, our Chihuahua, thinks almost every other dog is a rival to dominate or fight. My family and I think he has a Napoleon complex.
But visit a dog park some time, and you’ll see what I mean: dogs who have never encountered each other before will run up to sniff (a quick way to get to know each other), then playfully wrestle or dash off together to engage in the Chasing (a favorite past time). Rare is the dog who hangs back from others or prefers the company of humans; often, this can be because of past trauma.
As mentioned previously, to a dog, any human being, regardless of sex, age, race, or what have you, is a Belonging. As in, dogs belong with people, and people belong with dogs. We think of a “belonging” as an item that one owns, but to dogs, “owning” is a foreign concept, one that only the brightest of them can begin to comprehend. Here’s an excerpt from Lost Dogs, with an exchange from Buddy, a German Shepherd, with Rex, a Border Collie:
What does that mean? Buddy asks. “Owners?”
It means that you have something and you can do with it whatever you want, Rex explains. And you can make it do whatever you want it to do. And whatever is owned, can’t make its owner do anything.
Owners are in charge, Buddy realizes.
Yes, Rex agrees. Yes, you could say that.
While dogs almost always see each other as worthy of getting to know, they do not always feel the same about people. Dogs are often protective—sometimes overly so (Tequila, again)—of “their” Belongings, the ones they live with, and may be wary of or even aggressive around “Belongings” they don’t know. At the very least, almost all of them will bark when a stranger enters their home.
Just as some dogs are not very “friendly” with others, some dogs are seemingly immediately fond of anyone they met: we call Cookie, our Lab mix, “Everyone’s Friend,” because she loves people (especially if they’ll give her a treat).
That’s all for now. Check back next week, when we’ll discuss the birds and the bees (no, not like that) and the ants and the flies and the squirrels and the rabbits and…