I spend a lot of time home alone with my dog — we've lived together for over eight years. Now that I live with three roommates, I'm becoming more aware of how my natural behavior around my dog might be strange for other non-dog owning humans. You see, I spend a lot of time talking to my dog, though I imagine it looks a lot more like I'm talking at him. I'm not waiting for answers, but I'm under the auspice that he can understand me, at least to some degree. And if he doesn't understand exactly what I'm saying, he's very used to me and the things I say and therefor has a set group of reactions that make me feel like we're communicating.
"Do you want to go OUT?" "Do you want to EAT?" "Give me a KISS" "Come SIT with me". You know, these are the standard kinds of interactions a human has with their animal. But the truth is, when my roommates aren't around, I'm more likely to open up our conversations to a wider scope. If you're a dog owner, or know one, these are probably some of the insane things spoken between dog and human, particularly when home alone.
"What's The Matter?"
Most dogs look pretty mopey, naturally. It's hard to not ask them if they're feeling okay when their entire faces are slanted downwards. We're just checking!
When no one's home, I pick up my dog and carry him to the mirror. I bring him as close to it as possible and point to his reflection and ask him if he can see himself. Sometimes he looks himself dead in the eyes so for all the people who say dogs can't comprehend their reflections, I might challenge them to say they can.
"Do You Know How Much I Love You?"
I think he gets the gist of it, but just to be sure, I ask my dog if he's aware of how much I love him. I don't want him to ever go an hour without knowing he's loved.
"Look At The Camera"
My photo roll on my phone has probably close to a thousand pictures of my dog. Sometimes I squeeze myself into the frame. Other times I just snap him. He's usually asleep or looking at me pathetically when I'm most inclined to snap. Sometimes I'll even show him his own picture. Lately, I'm very into putting Snapchat filters on him. There's nothing more meta than showing him himself wearing a dog filter.
"You're Going To Live Forever"
All dog owners live in sporadic fear that something will happen to their dog. It's hard not to be constantly paranoid when you love something so much. People often ask me how old my dog is and when I tell them he's eight, they often remark how old that is. "Oh, that's old!" they'll say, not realizing what kinds of feelings that comment evokes in me. When people say things like that around him, I'm likely to tell him later when we're alone that he's going to live forever, just incase he's concerned.
"Do You Love Me?"
It's not always easy to get reassurance from your dog. Sure they'll happily lick your face any time of day, but sometimes it hard not to stop and wonder, are you licking my face because there's food on it, or do you love me?
"Are You Grandpa? Are You Heath Ledger? Are You George Washington?"
Dogs can be surprisingly expressive with their eyes. Often, they just look at you for an uncomfortable amount of time, unblinking. It can be unsettling and confusing. Or, it can be bewitching. Stare offs can easily be misconstrued as a wise attempt of communication. Whenever my dog does something particularly haunting or sweet, I ask him if he's the ghost of someone who's died. He once barked at the screen when Heath Ledger came on and I asked him if he was Heath. He looked at me a few seconds too long and I spent the next few weeks convinced it was him. Other times, I'm positive he's my grandfather. It's hard to be sure.
Images: Courtesy of Author