What I Wish I Could Explain To My Dog

My dog Honey knows when I’m going out and if I’m taking her with me or going alone. She understands that if she barks for breakfast before the scheduled time, I’ll tell her to settle down for a few more minutes. And she knows, if she’s uncertain about anything, to look to me for help.

But as well as we understand each other, there are still so many more things I wish I could explain to my dog.

Honey the golden retriever tires to understand what I'm explaining to her.

Go ahead and explain things to me. I’m listening.

Dogs Don’t Understand

I feel bad when I think of how puzzled Honey must feel by the strange things we do. For example

Foster dogs – who are these creatures who keep coming to stay with us and when are they leaving?

All Honey knows is that we introduce her to a new dog or puppy, they stay for a while, and then they go away.

I have no way to tell her what we’re doing. How long these dogs will stay. And sadly, no way to thank her for being such a gentle host to these fuzzy strangers who pass through our house on the way to their forever homes.

Ginny the foster dog is sleeping.

Who is that fuzzy stranger and why is she sleeping on my bed? Shhh, whisper. If you wake her up, she’ll want my Nylabone too.

Vacations – why are we leaving Honey behind and when are we coming back?

The worst part of our trip to Panama was not being able to tell Honey that we’d be gone for a month, she’d have a great time with her favorite person while we were gone, and that we’d be back to see her as soon as we got home.

Work – what’s a deadline and why does it force us to take our walk late?

Honey often settles down under my desk when I’m working. But she can’t figure out why I’d rather be sitting inside when I should be walking her.

Sustainability – why did we get rid of the car?

When we had a car, I took Honey with me when it was safe to do so. She loved it.

She doesn’t understand why she no longer gets to enjoy car trips with us. To this day, if someone opens their car door on the street in front of our house, she’ll try to jump in.

Honey the Golden Retriever as seen in the rear view mirror of the car.

Fun times in mirror are closer than they appear.

Boundaries – why is it ok to crawl into the lap of the mom or the dad but not that nice person who came to visit?

Ok, this is partly my fault. I’ve never set good rules for what’s okay with us and what’s okay with outsiders.

Honey only knows that she loves cuddling with everyone and can’t understand why some of them don’t appreciate a fifty pound, shedding lap dog.

Honey the golden retriever cuddles with Leslie at BlogPaws.

I can’t believe I had to come all the way to BlogPaws to find someone who really knows how to cuddle.

My Dog Always Understands

I wish I could explain my strange expectations for Honey to her. But if she understood everything I said to her, Honey would be a human (with all the complications that involves) instead of a dog.

Luckily, there are some things Honey always understands without me having to say a word to her.

I love her. I want what’s best for her. I will always make sure she is safe.

And I guess that has to be good enough.

Your Turn: What do you most wish you could explain to your dog?

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  1. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband–

    Honey: “Who’s THAT guy, and just what does HE contribute around here?”
    Pam: “Hmmm. I’ll have to get back to you on that. . .”

  2. Since I’ve had so many seniors with physical problems, I’ve wished I could explain the trips to the vet and the medicines they’ve had to take…especially poor Becca who had osteosarcoma and we did radiation and chemo. I’m not sure I would ever make that choice again because I COULDN’T explain what we were doing and why she felt so lousy.

    • Yeah, I think I’ve never wished more to speak to my dogs than when they’re sick. But the amazing thing is how they keep going and loving us even when it appears we’re making them suffer.

  3. Lucky for us, dogs have little expectations of how things “should” be! The vacation thing has always been a big one for me – I just wish I could explain how long I was going to be gone and that I’d be back 😉

    • My preference, of course, is to just take Honey with us everywhere so there’s no conversation necessary.

      BTW, I’m surprised you didn’t want to explain to Kenzie why she shouldn’t be biting the hand that feeds her. :p

  4. For Delilah it would be to tell her that she will always be fed and she can stop foraging for food. It may not always be exactly on time, but she will get her two daily meals and one night time snack.

    For Sampson it would be that why I look at him with sadness in my eyes is only because I love him so much and can’t contemplate my life without him. Oh and why it’s really too cold for hi to have a nice long walk.

    • I suspect that would be a long conversation Delilah. Because I have a feeling she wouldn’t believe you anyway.

      As for Sampson, he definitely knows how much you love him, no matter what look is in your eyes. 🙂

  5. margaret petros says:

    I know, what you mean. I’ve never understood how Abby knows when I’m going to work or to church on Sunday mornings and she just lies there watching me get ready and other times when I’m getting ready just to go out on errands, she gets excited and begs to go with me-like she knows I could take her then and can’t when going to work or to church!

    • There is no one better at understanding our body language and behavior than our dogs. I bet if you could see film footage comparing when you’re getting ready for church or work vs doing errands, Abby’s skills would suddenly become clear to you.

  6. I wish I could explain to DeDe why I am adamant that she take those nasty-tasting pills, because that’s what eases her pain. But she don’t get that; all she knows is she don’t like it.

  7. If I could explain anything to Felix, it would be that I am NEVER EVER going to leave him and not come back (at least as long as I have any say in it), so he can go ahead and relax if I go to work or Dog Forbid, go out for a few hours. I’m always coming back for him, he’ll always be my number 1 guy, so he doesn’t have to get so anxious when we are separated. Also, that letting me snuggle him like a teddy bear is a part of the deal and I consider it his “rent” for letting him live in the lap of luxury, so if he could quit struggling like a kidnap victim that would great.

    To Kolchak, I would like to explain that he can not, CAN NOT, eat all the time or he will turn into a dog-whale. (I’m not sure he’ll care, I’d just like him to know I’m not withholding food just to be a jerk.) I would also like to remind him that no one likes a bossypants, so he could back the heck off a bit.

    • I feel the same way. Particularly because BJ was left on the street until someone caught him and took him to a shelter. I want him know I will NEVER EVER leave him.

  8. What all of her phobias are and that they are really not that scary. Especially fireworks.

  9. That I will never not feed my boys, so they wouldn’t be so food-obsessive.

    • As I said to Jodi, truly food-obsessive dogs wouldn’t believe you no matter what. Their stomach is telling them you’re way late in feeding them. Every. Single. Minute. 🙂

  10. I wish I could explain where we go during the day and why some times we’re home (like weekends) and other times we come home late. And I agree that I would love to be able to tell Duke why I was gone for so long for vacation!

    • I once read something that said they thought that when we go away from our dogs for a long time, our scent fades over time and they eventually act as if we’re dead. If that’s true, I’d definitely want to tell Honey I’ll be back. I’d hate for her to find new people.

  11. I wish I could explain to BJ when I’m going and coming right back as opposed to staying out a while. I wish I explain to him that the medicine he gets is good for him and will make him hurt less.

    • They really tug at our heart when we leave, don’t they? It feels like the end of their worlds even when we’re just walking down the block and coming back.

  12. My mom do not think it is necessary to explain something, because we dogs love our humans unconditionally. And I think that we dogs mostly wait to see what’s going to happen. My dogs pension mother once told my mom that it’s the humans who think the most. The dogs just accept it all.

    • You are right that dogs live in the moment. Unlike we humans. But it doesn’t make it any easier for us because we put ourselves in our dog’s place. If we would feel sad, we think they must too.

      Your mom is very wise, Laika.

  13. True. I don’t know if I’d like it if my dogs and I could talk to one another. It would drive me nuts if all we did was talk about food all the time. 😉 I like what you said, “there are some things Honey always understands without me having to say a word to her.” Also very true. Dogs are more perceptive than people when it comes to certain things.

  14. Hubby always gets distressed when he can’t explain to the dogs that they can’t go for a walk because they are sick, or have owies, or it is too cold out. It happens very rare, but he wishes they would understand.

  15. I run into that sometimes, that Elka is in fact “just” a dog and can’t actually understand what I explain to her. One of the first times I remember running into this was when she accidentally killed a moth, and brought it to me, looking up at me with big liquid Disney eyes like “Why won’t it fly anymore?”

  16. Now that I work from home, I almost never have to leave my girl, except for short jaunts to the grocery store or out to dinner or maybe a quick visit with a friend or relative. That makes leaving her when we take the occasional vacation even more difficult, and I always wish I could make her understand that even though it’s going to seem like a very long time, Momma will always come back for her. I worry so much that for days, she just sits there thinking she’s been abandoned.

  17. When Moses was going through his spinal surgery, I so badly wished I could explain it to him – and then when he got home and couldn’t walk, I really wished I could’ve explained that, too. And, of course, that when we leave, we’ll always come back.

  18. Julie Blackwelder says:

    I see the other side of the leaving situation because I board and groom dogs. Most of them figure it out, especially if they come often.

    The owners get upset when I have the ones who get excited about coming and are reluctant to go home. One little tiny poodle I later found out was being abused and he got a new home, but the rest I think are just active and intelligent and are lonesome being an “only child” and have family leave every day for work, school, church or whatever. I think they look forward to coming to be part of my pack and like that I rarely leave for more than a short time, so crate/pen/playpen time is short.

    Rarely do I have dogs that get confined and/or leashed for most of the time they are with me. Most of them have free run of the house and the back yard. Some at home are never off leash and they LOVE my back yard (2/3 of an acre) and running with the pack.

    The really sad ones pine for days, and some won’t eat for a week. But, even those, if they stay ling enough, perk up and have a good time, but the excitement when their “children” or owners come to get them is indescribable. Some you can tell some thought they had been abandoned or their people had died.

    I can’t imagine how many times I have wished they could talk and tell me about their lives at home and how many times I have wished I could tell them that everything will be okay and they are safe with me and that family will be back.

  19. I wish that I could explain to my dogs that I am clipping their nails or cleaning their ears for their own good – not so that I can torture them!

  20. I wish I could explain to Scout that he is getting older and that is why it hurts him a little bit when he gets up and down. I wish I could explain to Teddy that he doesn’t need to be afraid of everything and everyone and that we will always be here for him and I wish we could tell Ash that she doesn’t have to be so clingy…that we will always love her! There is so much I wish I could tell all of my dogs. Wouldn’t it be great if they could understand us!

  21. I wish I could explain why I can’t spend every day with BD any more – and I want him to understand with all his heart that this isn’t his fault, I didn’t want to leave him….

  22. That 50 lb furball is welcome on my lap anytime! I’d love that kind of cuddling (I am so glad we ALL know the real context of this) from any furry angels. We didn’t do very well establishing boundaries with our dogs and visitors, so Freddy always ended up in a surprised guest’s lap. And they didn’t mind one bit.

  23. The one thing I wish I could have explained better to Alfie was when we moved over to the US and had to leave him in his crate for 14 hours while on the plane. Words can not describe how upset I felt when I left him at the check in, and how worried I felt every minute of that flight.

    I couldn’t explain to him that he would be alone for that long but that it would be okay, and that we would come and get him soon – The only thing I could do to prepare him for the flight was to make sure he was well exercised and crate trained.

    Being a tough cookie Alfie took it in his stride though, and all the crate training paid off – when we reached the US he simply stepped out of the crate, gave his humans a roooo and a kiss and went to find the nearest lamp post. I can only assume that his faith, love and trust in us kept him calm during the flight.