Saturday, December 22, 2012

What do dogs understand?

Yesterday morning I received the following text from a friend who has two Welsh Terriers:

"I tell [dog] that [son] is coming. He trots over to the only window where he can see the street. Looks out, wags his stubby tail. Looks back at me, then settles in to wait." Nearly eight hours later I checked in to ask if he was still in his spot, waiting. The answer came: "Yup."

This story would be even more impressive if I could tell you he didn't move the spot all day. He did, but only for short intervals. And he returned to his post, waiting patiently until low woods signaled the arrival of this woman's son.

Shortly after I read the first text, I was sitting at my desk in the dining room. I heard my daughter's door open and remarked to Blue, who was sitting beside me, "You'll need to go to your room. Marley needs to go outside." I didn't turn my head or even speak in anything but a low monotone (the result of an unfortunate cold and stuffy nose). But Blue clambered to his feet as I finished my remark, trotted to his room and on into his crate, where he turned around and lay down. Perhaps it was the sound of my daughter's door opening. Perhaps not.

So, for those who would argue dogs cannot understand what we say, I beg to differ. Yes, I based my conclusions on anecdotal evidence and a sample of two. So be it.

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