Thinking About Thinking Dogs


After an absence of a few months, I am back. Now I am sure there are some of you who are happy to hear that because you can’t wait to read all of the fine prose I write. Then there are others I am sure, who hadn’t even noticed I was gone.

Now that I am no longer riding around all day, listening to the radio and looking at the scenery, I can only imagine you are wondering “What will he write about now?” I am here to say, that not only are you wondering that, but I am as well. In fact I have been wondering about it for the last hour, so much so I even asked the dog for some input. And that is what began me thinking, “Does Buttons (my dog) understand a word I am saying?” Then that led me to thinking “What does he think about all day anyway?

For example, he was sitting on my lap gazing out the window, very intently. I had to know what he was thinking, I had to get inside his head. So off to Google I went.

Of course, I realize that, like people, some dogs must think differently than others, and perhaps, again like people, some dogs probably don’t think at all. But do they think like we do? Evidently they do, sort of. It seems that dogs have a brain very similar to ours except it only develops to about the same as a 2 to 2 1/2-year-old human. Which makes sense. According to an article in Discovery Magazine, they even have quite a range of emotions, again like those of a small humanoid. This explains a lot, about both humans and dogs. Dogs dream and some even can understand human words, although they rely mostly on your actions and even your tone to understand and listen to you.

One article (see next paragraph) article says that dog owners should try an experiment. Go a day without saying anything to your dog, only use gestures and see what happens. The article claims the dog will still understand you.  I have yet to try that experiment with Buttons, but I have at times tried it with people and it doesn’t work. But then some of the gestures may not have been all that appropriate.

I also came across another article, this one on the Mother Nature website listing 11 things you do that your dog hates. I have always thought there were some things my dog, even though he appeared not to mind, secretly in his little dog brain didn’t like. For example, according to Mother Nature dogs don’t like to be hugged, or patted on the head. Evidently, dogs take this as a threat, a sign of dominance.

It also claims that dogs don’t like to be bored. This begs the question – what is boring to a dog? My dog will sit on the window sill (something he learned from the cats) and stare out the window for quite some time. His eyes are moving, his nose is twitching but other than that he sits still. For one who has a hard time sitting still, wouldn’t this be boring to a dog? Of course, he could be thinking about how he is going to finally catch one of those grey squirrels that run around the yard.

This leads to another point, why can’t he figure out that when he traps a squirrel under the woodpile that after a few minutes it has run out the other side? Instead, he will sit for hours waiting for the critter to return through the same hole it went it. Wait, I think I did the same thing once, but it involved a keg of beer going dry and I couldn’t understand why nothing was coming from the tap.

Maybe dogs are more like us than we think after all.

Sorry I Pooped in Your Shoe (and Other Heartwarming Letters from Doggie)

I Could Chew on This: And Other Poems by Dogs
Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life With Dogs

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