This is my dog, Poppy, as you may have seen on Kat Mortensen's blog Shooting Cats & Dogs. I often wonder about the souls of our fellow creatures. This hairy little beast belonged to a customer of ours when we had a cleaning business. She was erratic, snappy, uncontrollable, and above all, she was my least favourite breed - a Jack Russell. When we visited her, my heart sank when the owners asked us if we wanted her, because they couldn't cope. Then she ran out, and I realised that when people constantly demand tricks from a dog in a hyperactive voice, the dog will become hyperactive. She was desperate to please, and ran to me with an immense strain around the muscles in her face. Despite the wagging tail, she wasn't happy, she was expected to be a performing seal.
I decided there and then, that even if we couldn't cope with her, I'd find someone that could, so we brought her home, took her for a PROPER walk, fed her some meat as she'd only been on biscuits, and showed her some affection. It took her a while, but she curled up on us with one massive sigh, and fell asleep. She was exhausted, so much so that in the following three days, she only woke up for walks and food. On the fourth, she perked up, much more balanced, and really settled in.
We've developed a huge bond with her, and I'm amazed how she picks up on mood, pain and all sorts of other things. This is one clever dog - I had an op on my shoulder which causes me problems periodically, on those nights, she will sleep over this shoulder. When my husband comes in, I know if he's in pain because she'll lie down the length of his left leg, and if she licks his knees, I know he's suffering. If one of us has had an upset or a shock, she'll stick to us like glue, following everywhere and offering affection constantly.
Then there's the other worldly type of bond. I know she has excellent hearing, but she'll sit up and be alert ten minutes before Bob pulls into our driveway. Her ears prick up only when he phones. It's remarkable, but she's got it all going on in that head of hers.
I'm a firm believer that all souls are the same, they just take a different shape or form. I would love to know what goes on in her head sometimes - what she thinks about, dreams about, and what she sees as her daily tasks. Whatever these tasks are, they are a big responsibility, she's so vigilant and protective of us, and my parents when she's in her second home.
I'm fascinated by the connection between animals and humans, especially those outlined by Konrad Lorenz in King Solomon's Ring. The minute observances of animal behaviour are wonderful windows into the world of creatures, and how they interact with us and their environment. Of course, he studied jackdaws in particular, which is why I like reading him, as everyone worth their salt loves a Corvid, right? Right.
These connections make me wonder sometimes, I'm sure animals have a lot more understanding of the world than people will give them credit for. I know they are aware of atmospheres, moods and the like, and get distressed if these are disrupted. But I don't hold with the saying 'If only they could talk..'. Expressions in the eyes, a cocked head, a tail movement, a tone of bark/meow/whatever, I think this conveys more than words can. I often feel if only humans couldn't talk, we'd communicate better and understand a great deal more.