Yesterday as the dogs and I were ending our walk we encountered a neighbor walking her dachshund. They were directly opposite our house and her dog spotted us before we could enter our driveway. The dachshund began barking and lunging toward us which brought Sophie and Muttley to a halt. Sophie has an expressive face and I could almost read her thoughts. Towering above the little dog she looked down and said, at least in my mind, “What’s your problem?”
Our neighbor knelt down and began talking to her dog: “I know they’re bigger than you, Trudy, but they won’t hurt you. They look friendly.” Trudy ignored this information and continued barking. Meanwhile Sophie, Muttley and I started down the driveway and, as we turned into our backyard, I heard our neighbor say, “See, I told you they wouldn’t hurt you.”
But dogs don’t think as humans do. Our backyard is a fenced half acre and Sophie could spend every day in it if she wouldn’t dig up the plants, eat dirt and get covered in mud. Heaven knows I’ve tried to explain this to her a hundred times. I use simple logic: “Sophie,” I say, “if you would behave and not dig or bark, then you could roam free all day.” It seems so easy. Then I add, “If you roamed free all day, then you wouldn’t be penned up on the porch.” Why, it’s not even that difficult, just a simple if/then situation.
Sophie doesn’t comprehend. As soon as I open the porch door she bolts into the backyard barking ferociously at the trees, hoping a squirrel will appear. When one does, she gets so excited she runs to the closest plant, digs it out and begins eating the dirt. So much for reason and logic!
On the other hand, Sophie seems to have a great time when she’s in the yard. She runs, barks and digs. Sometimes when she barks Muttley runs to see what’s exciting. Other times Muttley barks and Sophie tears across the yard. They seem happiest when they’re doing everything I don’t want them to do.
When I call them in, or go get them which is the usual occurrence, I sometimes wonder if they say to each other, “It’s a shame Charles thinks so much. I’ll bet he would have a great time if only he would let himself go. All he does is sit penned up in his room. If only he would stop reading and thinking, then he could roam free in the backyard and have fun experiences with us. You would think humans could understand something so simple.”