Friday, February 08, 2013
Sadie, our seven year-old female, has used a single, multi-purpose vocalization since she was a very young dog. She looks you in the eye to get your attention and then makes a low growling-like noise. Often she will walk backwards while doing this for emphasis.
This generally means that she wants to go outside, but it can also mean that the water bowl needs to be refilled, or that she thinks it is time for dinner. She will often start telling me it is time to eat a half hour or so before scheduled dinner time. Sometimes when I tell her firmly it’s not time yet, she will sit down, give me a hurt look, and issue a long, tortured sigh.
Since we got the pups last spring, Sadie has used her communication skills to cover managing them as well. Buck and Cash will go outside with her when she asks to go out, but on other occasions, she tells me to let the pups go out, but she wants to stay inside. Lately, she’s also been telling me when she thinks it’s time to let them back in.
Buck and Cash have learned this from her. They both use a sort of yodeling sound rather than a growl, but it can go up in scale to a yip if they don’t think I’m paying enough attention. Cash rarely does it, and seems to have delegated the job to Buck, who does it all the time. I find that most of the time when Buck comes to me and asks to go out, Cash is already standing by the door. It can get pretty noisy around here when Buck and Sadie decide to gang up on me just before dinner time.
Of course we talk to our dogs a lot, too. Generally, I’ve always thought that what they hear is much like the classic Gary Larson cartoon I put in at the top. But sometimes, I don’t know.
I have to frame this by telling you that we have one of those “invisible fence” systems. It’s an off the shelf one we bought at a pet store years ago. Generally it works very well, and the dogs have about two and a half acres where they can roam without supervision and we don’t have to worry about them wandering off. We don’t leave them out in it when we are not at home, as it doesn’t keep bad actors (coyotes, other dogs, bad people, etc.) out, it just keeps our dogs in.
Well a few days ago, Buck’s collar malfunctioned, so I had to keep an eye on him as he likes to roam and explore. We got it fixed quickly enough. The dogs and I were watching TV in the family room and Sadie gave me her “want to go outside” signal. I said to her, “Okay, you and Cash can go out, but Buck has to stay inside because his collar is broken.” I stood up, and Sadie and Cash ran to the door to go out, but Buck didn’t move a muscle. After the two dogs went out, Buck looked at me and sighed as if to say he had wanted to go out, too.