Limited Communication

Eli, my dog, stuck his face in mine a few moments ago.  He’s started this habit recently; when whining doesn’t get my attention, putting his head on the arm of my chair, the edge of the bed, or my shoulder is his next effort.

Dogs have detailed, involved communication with each other; they use scent, body positioning, and sound, just to name a few.  But their communication with us is more limited.  I can tell when Eli wants something, but with a few exceptions I can’t usually tell what he wants.  (The exceptions are all related to food.  He is obvious about wanting food, either by carrying his bowl to where I am sitting or banging it around with his foot.)

When he set his chin on my shoulder earlier, I started thinking about things from his point of view.  It must be tough to live in a world where you can’t fully convey your needs.  As a person who makes a living communicating, and makes a hobby of writing, it is such a foreign concept that I simply can’t imagine going through life unable to share more than rudimentary ideas with the person who takes care of me.

Poor Eli.  I wonder if there is some way for me to open up channels of communication through training.  For example, maybe I could teach him to bump a little bell when he needs to go outside.  It would be nice to give him a little more control over his life, even if he is an old dog.


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