An Exercise in Learning "Dog Talk"

At 2:00 in the morning, Callie Golden Retriever walked to the side of my bed and sat facing me. She “snorted.” I don’t know how else to describe the sound she makes. It’s not a bark, or a “wuuf,” or a growl. It’s just a “snort.” Usually, she uses a “snort” to get my attention.

Sometimes, Callie walks right to the edge of the bed and sits down in a place where I can reach her neck to give it a vigorous “puppy scratch.” And sometimes she sits down a few feet away facing the door. This means, “I gotta go pee!” But this was different. She was facing me, but too far away for a “puppy scratch.”

So, what’s she trying to say? Running out of options, I guessed maybe she wanted to go out. So I dragged myself out of bed and walked to the kitchen door that leads out to Callie’s side yard — her place to pee and, maybe, chase a racoon or possum. Got it. Right?

Wrong! She didn’t walk to the door. Instead, she sat down in the middle of the kitchen. Not close enough to the puppy treat bowl to be asking for a puppy treat. Just in the middle of the kitchen. Then I noticed that her food bowl was on the sink and that it still contained a few bites of dinner.

That stinker! She remembered, at 2:00 in the morning, that there was still a little dinner in her bowl, and she was asking me, very politely, to serve it to her.

I’m sorry, Mr. Research Scientist, but when was the last time a 2 1/2 year old kid did something like that? I swear; dogs are smarter than we think!

Sometimes, to understand what your dog is saying, you have to go through all the possibilities and be real creative about trying to understand what they are thinking. On the other hand, “food” is probably the answer more often than not.