Saturday, January 19, 2008

Does anybody out there speak Dog?

More so than the other dogs, Butch walks to the rhythm of his own drummer. Usually, if one dog wants to go outside, the others go, too. But if there's only one who'd rather not go at that particular time, thanks anyway, it’ll be Butch.

Throughout his life he’s been the one to go off into a dark, distant room to take a nap all by himself. He can be very social when he wants to be, so it seems to be a matter of what kind of mood he’s in at any given moment.

Kadi is pretty easy to read. I can tell by the expression on her face whether she’s happy, sad, anxious, jealous or totally ticked off about something. With Butch (even when he had eyes) it’s hard to tell what he’s thinking. I’ve always suspected that he doesn’t think too much about anything. Maybe that's why he's normally such a happy-go-lucky pooch.

Every now and then, though, Butch gets an idea. It's usually food related, but sometimes it has to do with something that requires me to open the door for him. When he gets something fixed in his mind, he's the most overbearing mutt I’ve ever seen.

He paces. He stands directly in front of me and wags his tail as hard as he can. He makes little grrff-ing noises. He steps on my feet and grabs my wrist in his mouth, sliming my arm and pulling me to go with him. He doesn’t give up until I give in.

Last night I was comfortable on the recliner end of the sofa, my feet propped up and Kadi lying next to me. Butch had been across the room napping on the dog bed, but he suddenly got up and went into his Demando-Dog routine. If I tried to scratch his back, he turned in a circle. If I tried to rub his head, he grabbed my arm. He yipped and grffffed. Loudly.

I told him repeatedly to settle down. He didn’t. I asked, “Do you want to go outside?” He made no move toward the door. It crossed my mind that he wanted a treat, but I didn’t ask about that. I didn't want to say the T-word because I didn’t want to reward him for behavior that bordered on being aggressive.

I was getting annoyed. “BUTCH!” I said sternly, “WHAT do you WANT?” He stopped and stood perfectly still, his ears at attention, and said quietly, “Rrrut-rrrut.” Then he waited.

I turned to look at Kadi, who’d raised herself to a sitting position and was watching the action intently. I shook my head in frustration and said, “Kadi, what is he saying?” She looked me straight in the eye and said, "Rrrut-rrrut.”

Yeah, that's what I thought he said.

I don’t know what the hell he wanted, but I gave each of them a rawhide chew and they let me read my book.

(First published at Velvet Sacks on December 9, 2006.)

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