I spend a lot of time watching people and even more time watching dogs. Quite frankly, dogs are so much easier to read. They say what they have to say and move on.
To help me get my thoughts together for this post, I took Buck and Scout to Heritage Dog Park. It is a really nice enclosed dog park. The perimeter walk is just under a mile. Up hills and down, the dogs can be, well, dogs. We go there often enough, that Buck knows when we get close. He starts that chortle whine. The one that is way back in his throat. If he were angry it would be a growl, but the excitement pinches off his vocal cords a bit and it comes out like a squeal.
Buck doesn’t do a lot of vocalizations beyond the “i’m done, Scout. leave me alone” or “yes” and loud style one word bark that his way of saying loudly get moving already, it’s time for the walk!!!!!
Scout, on the other hand, is a chronic talker. Not only is it incessant, it is LOUD. Scout has about as much volume control as a 3 year old at Chucky Cheese. When Scout has something to say it comes out in sharp staccato sentences. “I WANT IT NOW.” or “THROW!! IT!!” Scout seems to use the exact number of syllables needed to complete his request.
Since the dogs are with me nearly all day, I get to watch their routines both as a spectator and a participant. In the morning, they climb over each other to be first in line for food. Buck takes his time eating, while Scout hoarfs it quickly down. Next, is the in and out of the dog door. Pooches taking care of business and drinking lots of water. As I settle in to work, Scout starts a round of “rharr rarrrr” games. Nibble on the back of Buck’s foot to instigate being chased. The seconds turn into minutes. Rharr. Chase. grrrrrr. Until mommy is tired of the noise and pulls out the water squirt gun.
But what is most fascinating about the back and forth is that the dogs have a behavioral dance they go through. A declarative, “I’m ready to play.” Next comes the nibble or nudge to insist “I am ready to play now!” Shoulder’s go down, butt’s go up, the give an take commences. Chase me. And the neat thing is for a dog, Chase ME actually means Chase ME!!
Dogs have the language written down in their genes. When they get to dog park, Chase ME still means Chase ME, even if they have not met that dog before. The back and forth dance still make sense to them. They are not strangers. They still know the dance.
I took a series of pictures this week while Scout was playing. When you have the camera taking multiple shots you can capture the little nuances as they happen. The excitement. The anticipation. The thrill.
This is why I really love dogs. Simple. Easy. Lovable.