Does Fido Know You Love Him?
I haven't spoken to my old friend in a while, but I was inspired to realize recently that she has been a dedicated blogger for nearly a decade. "WhyDid" writes frequently about her dog Smitty. He dresses up, he gardens leisurely, and I have personally witnessed him drink from a Champagne bucket at the exclusive Hamptons party spot Sunset Beach. WhyDid really loves this pooch. In fact, “to be smitten with” is a synonym for the verb “to love”. Is his name any wonder?
All of which I understand (maybe a little too) wholeheartedly. Winston Churchill, my own late rover, was revered, relished, and overall, regarded as a person. Ask me how many people lived in my house I’d tell you 8: seven human persons and one doggy person. Our return address labels said "Rojas + Churchill", for our name and his. He slept in our bed, and infamously took up 75% of it.
Did he know how much
he was kind of everything to me
before he passed?
I was glad to see recently that WhyDid is still diligently blogging, but also a tinge jealous to read all about her snuggling her main muse, whilst mine is in doggy heaven.
We as humans know Fido loves us. He gets excited when we come home, forgives us when we holler at him, offers a nudge when we are sad, is beside himself when we pack a suitcase.
But I've always wondered... do dogs know (really know) just how much WE love THEM? He has never Did Winston know how much massive spacetime he occupied in my brain? Did he know how much he was kind of everything to me before he passed?
How could he have possibly understood that we had made life decisions around him? That I considered him my firstborn? That we bought a bigger car for his comfort? That my husband and I used to turn to each other on vacation and say, “I wonder what Winston is doing at home right now”? Does he know that baths and nail clippings aren’t expressing hate? That even though he couldn’t attend my wedding in the Bahamas, he was my ringbearer?
Since he had never known anything different from the food, the toys, the walks, the shelter, the scratches, then how could he have known it’s love, that I do it for him, that it takes effort, that this isn’t the way every household works? And wouldn’t it have made him so happy to know? Well I mulled it over for months and came to a conclusion.
Here is how your dog knows you love him:
1. You kiss him. No matter how friendly, kissing is something no other human does to him, so he knows your affection for him is heightened. Does anyone else stop family portraits sessions to say, “just one shot of me smooching the pup"?
2. You let him sleep in your bedroom, whether it’s in your bed or not. In a dog’s psychology, this means you share a den – vital to him understanding you are permanently in his pack.
3. You make high-pitched noises and a big fuss when he’s in pain. If you ooh and ahh when he barfs or gets stepped on, he knows you think about his well-being and care when something is not right.
4. You introduce him to guests. Allowing him to greet those who enter his pack’s den means you acknowledge his humanity (so to speak).
5. You give treats at the vet. He recognizes you are actively yielding to his discomfort.
6. You are excited to see him when you come home too. He sees your delight in his delight.
7. You discipline him. This tells him you are the boss, and his doggy brain was born with the knowledge that the alpha is interested in the entire pack’s best interest.
8. You are the food-giver. Every day his instinct is to wake up obsessed with what food he can get today. Enabling him to eat makes him feel like you understand him deeply.
9. You laugh at his antics. Just like you have learned what his various barks mean, he knows the sound you make when he entertains you.
10. You remember what he likes and do those things repeatedly. In other words, he appreciates what it means that you scratch where he likes it.