This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Can My Dogs Read My Mind?
An Old Lady’s Mental Meanderings

For a while now I have noticed that my dogs seem to know what I am thinking. I leave my house almost every day without taking them with me. I go to work, I go shopping, I go to run errands. They know the drill and are quietly settled on their various beds without any expectation of coming along for the ride.  But whenever I plan to take them out, whether to go on a neighborhood walk, or a car ride to hike the State Park or a quick romp to my neighborhood makeshift dog park they seem to know in advance. Their excitement is hard to miss as they circle around the door while doing a little happy dance. Same thing happens when it comes to food.  They show little interest when I’m preparing food for myself, maybe some curiosity, but that’s all. But when I am preparing their food, which is entirely human grade food which I might be eating myself or go to the fridge to take out their container of homemade food they’re at my side even before I reach the refrigerator.  Maybe it’s the time of day. Afterall, dogs are creatures of habit so I must be giving them some clues, right? So far perfectly normal.
But one day not too long ago I noticed something strange. I was sitting at my table finishing a mug of morning coffee, and realizing that my day was free, I thought it be a perfect day to take the dogs hiking. Mind you, I was sitting in my pj’s and robe looking at my laptop, as I do every morning. I had not even finished thinking this through when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the dogs became quite aroused and started circling and prancing at the door as they do when we’re about to go out. At first I was annoyed for they were disturbing my quiet and peaceful morning ritual. I, of course, put an end to the mayhem and once they were settled I sat back down to think about what had just occurred. My annoyance quickly turned to bafflement and wonder as I played out the scene again and again in my mind. I was certain that I provided no clues, but maybe I did so unconsciously. I decided to do a little experimentation.
Over the next few weeks I randomly and deliberately focused my thoughts on doing an outside activity with the dogs. I might do so while washing dishes, putting on makeup, making up the bed or any other mundane everyday activity. I noticed that if I simply thought the idea of taking them out nothing unusual happened but if I began to visualize our excursion they would respond as if we were about to leave. I did the same with food. Without thinking of them I would take out cold cuts or cheese for myself. No reaction other than maybe a quick glance in my direction. But if, while still seated I thought, (while visualizing), about giving them the very same food, they were at my feet sitting patiently waiting for their helpings. Be it with food or trips away from home I had to visualize the activity for them to respond. Thoughts alone provoked no reaction. I started to visualize going to bed at different times of the day and sure enough they would get up and walk to the bedroom. Is it some sort of mental telepathy? I have no idea. I’d like to believe that our bond is so strong that they can understand the pictures in my head. Or maybe I project an emotional response to my visualizations that they respond to. Anyhow, for whatever it means or if it means nothing at all, it’s just another reason why I am so enamored with all things dog.

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