Sunday, February 20, 2011


When I was a child, while my friends were watching TV, I used to walk down the alleys behind the houses in my neighborhood and visit all the local dogs.  We communicated very well.  All of them greeted me as I came near, some danced around and wagged their tails, some barked, all of them were in eye contact, and I talked to them, told them what was new with me, and we all connected.  I was even on cordial speaking terms with the pair of Chows that lived in the big house on the corner.  Their owner would walk them with a riding crop in hand – whether to keep them away from other people and dogs, or the other people and dogs away from them, I was never sure, since he never used it. But I carried on long conversations with them when no one was around.

Nowadays, I see people walking down the street, talking into thin air, with their glassy gaze focused on nothing at all, and I really wonder…

I think I was born in the wrong century.  I find the world of technology daunting; I would have been much happier getting from place to place on horseback and talking to people face to face rather than through all the gadgets we are required to live with.

These days, it seems that all our communication is with gadgets – our car doors open when we press a button and the car beeps at us to say hello, I can operate the TV, video, CD, DVD, drapes on the windows, and lights all over the house without moving from the sofa and from one multitasking multi buttoned gadget.  I can have a bed that does all sorts of things at the press of a button.  And all of these gadgets talk to us, with a beep or ring or hum or some sort of musical note.   The phones are answered by machines that direct us to other machines and somehow we never seem to talk to a human.  We seem to be more interested in carrying on conversations with our various technological entities than with real people.

People walk down the street oblivious to the others around them.  The phone attached to their ear is so tiny that you can’t even tell they are talking into it, just that they are striding forward, talking away, with a blank gaze, impervious to whatever is around them. I also find it hard to understand why anyone wants to watch movies on his cell phone, or have five thousand applications of things to do with it, that I would never do anyway. It is no wonder that we have trouble communicating with each other and with our dogs.  People don’t look at each other; whenever anything that might be of interest is happening, they pull out their cell phones and start taking pictures – they never really look at or see the real thing.

Dogs do not understand technology.  They like to look us in the eye and read our faces, and they communicate back, with a look, a lick, a sideways glance, and many other ways of expressing themselves, but never with a “beep”.  Habibi wants to see my face and hear my voice, not view things through some technological object. He wants to respond directly and have my direct response to him.  And I agree with him!

I wonder what the world would be like if we had to deal with each other the way dogs do…?

My granddaughter when she was a baby, with the dog they had then, a Tibetan Mastiff


  1. I am so totally with you!
    I love to communicate with animals! In so few words a whole range of feeling is conveyed.
    The main tool used is not words but feelings- and it is all initiated from a place of deep love and respect.

  2. When I was working, I visited many homes every day. I always spoke to the house animals, dogs, cats, birds, even on occasion, goats and pigs. It was interesting to see how many responded to me very positively. Once I met a mastiff-pit bull mix. His head was enormous, he was enormous. He just fell in love with me, he almost knocked me down rubbing his head against my chest. People would comment that their pet never acted like that with new people, but I guess they can tell who really likes them. In the 6 years I had that job, I only had to ask someone to put their dogs up twice. Communicating with our animals is so wonderful and satisfying.

  3. Three of my dogs are very emotional and communicate enormously verbally. Each one has a completely different way of speaking. Sadie has always been very vocal and gives lots of yip yip yips in welcome as well as other woo waoo sounds. She winds herself round you in welcome. Black barks big deep ear splitting barks and has his own range of woo waas.We thought Luke was silent, but one day he looked at us thumping his tale and moving his paw and suddenly came out with a very pursed mouth kind of groan growl.OOO-OOOOO -ooooooa. with lots of encouragement he has extended this range and now does it quite often. Our fourth dog is Miss. She is very quiet - doesn't talk, but comes up to you confidentially and sits and stares intensely into your eyes. She pushes you with her muzzle and in her quiet way, is perhaps the most expressive of all.