This is the four-leaf clover Pepper helped me find last week:
She seemed like she was jonesing for a walk, so we went outside where she promptly sat down under the nearest tree. After she stared at me for a few moments (“Are you just going to STAND there?”) I plopped down on the grass. I had about 785488434 other things to do, but people-watching with Pepper seemed much more fun. Just before we got up, I looked between her paws and there it was, four leaves and all. Lucky me.
Pepper has been with us for exactly four weeks, and she has already taught me many things. For example: Standing attentively in the kitchen while I cook pork could mean she wants some… OR it could mean she has to go out. (Learned that one the hard way.)
Dog ownership has opened my eyes to a whole new way of communicating. Talking is grand and all, but let’s consider for a moment good old body language. Think about how many messages we send everyday without uttering a word? (And I don’t mean text messages.)
Just the other day I spilled Pepper’s water bowl all over the floor. After I cleaned it up my heavy sigh, my slumped shoulders and my extra hard *thump* on the couch told Mr. Dish: “I’m sitting here on the couch for the rest of the night, gosh darnit.”
Pepper’s body language is no less complex at times, but there were some pretty clear messages right away:
Ears back and relaxed: “I’m cool as a cucumber, thank you very much.”
Eyes rolled back into her head, body relaxed: “Do NOT stop rubbing me!”
Eyes closed, belly up, legs in the air: “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”
Ears perked up, standing at attention: “SQUIRREL!”
Ears perked up while seated: ”SQUIRREL!”
Ears perked up while pulling on leash as a piece of trash blows by: “SQUIRREL!”
We still have much to learn, but it has certainly made me pay more attention to the unspoken messages sent by my dog and my human family members every day. It’s also made me think about the silent messages I send to my loved ones, whether I realize it or not. How many cold shoulders or stink eyes have I doled out that could have been smiles? More than I’d like to admit.
One of my favorite Pepper messages is when she hops up onto the couch and places her head in my lap, which of course means: “I’m so happy you’re here!”
We’re a couple of lucky dogs, aren’t we?