“After the flurry of the last month, it’s time to set some new resolutions. Humans struggle a bit with communication, so I thought I’d offer a few tips from the canine world.”
I’ve seen humans groan when they wake up in the morning and look at the clock. I love waking up, it’s my favourite thing because I know it means my humans will be up soon. And that means they’ll take me for a walk. Walking is my favourite thing. Then after the walk we have breakfast. Breakfast is my very favourite thing. Sometimes I follow my human outside while she takes out the rubbish. I love doing that. We also go for drives in the car. That’s my favourite thing. I visit the office. Visiting the office is my favourite thing.
Then we come home. Coming home is the best! We play my favourite game where I’ve trained the humans to throw the ball for me. But I also love just lying on the sofa watching TV. Sometimes I get to bark at the cat next door, that’s really my favourite thing. I love it when my humans give me dinner. After that I often go to bed. I love going to bed. Sleeping is one of my favourite things.
Master the art of relaxation
I see humans “relaxing”. They sit on the sofa watching TV while they text and answer emails, listening for the washing machine to go ping so they can jump up and finish the laundry. I, on the other hand, stretch out, let everything go, including the odd fart. I might snore a bit and twitch my feet as I dream of all the rabbits I could have caught, but my main priority is to do nothing. Just be.
Stop and smell the bottoms
Humans seem to hurry through life making judgements about others very quickly and with very little information. Every lamppost and tree provides me with vital information about local goings-on. When I meet another dog I take my time to have a good sniff and find out where he’s been, what he’s eaten, where his stress levels are sitting and what his general health is like.
Sometimes my humans pull me away, I know it’s not their fault that they can’t understand the significance of these signals. They have such tiny, ineffective little noses, poor things. Next I assess my companion’s body language – the eyes, the ears, the tail position. It’s amazing what a difference a bit of context makes. Then I think: “I’d probably have my ears back and tail down if I’d just had the day he’s had, poor fellow.” So I give a friendly wag of my tail.
Don’t bite if a growl will suffice
It’s not fair to go from zero to meltdown without warning. When someone is doing something that bugs you, don’t just lash out. Let them know the effect their behaviour is having. Give them a chance to change. Hopefully they’ll take the hint. Biting will just bring bad things your way.
When you’re wrong, be sorry
As in, really sorry. Nothing is worse than an insincere apology or an attempt at deflection. You don’t have to roll over and show your belly, but letting someone know how much you regret what you did will go a long way to healing the rift. I can say it all with my eyes and tail, but humans will probably have to use words.
It’s taken me a while to train my humans. Sometimes they want to sleep well after dawn. At first, I’d give them a gentle nudge in the ear with my cool damp nose – a very pleasant way to realise the day is slipping away. They’d roll away. I’d rest my head on the bed and whimper in a manly way and they’d stick their heads under the pillows. In desperation I’d leap on the bed and crawl under the doona, taking it with me as I went. This did the trick. Now, all I have to do is put my front paws on their chests and they obediently get out of bed.
So remember, what seems like a potential obstacle is often just another stepping stone on the path to success.
Despite the fact that my humans have taken quite a bit of training, and still sometimes misunderstand me, I love them more than life itself. Nothing makes me happier than seeing them, and being with them. Even if they’ve left me alone for ages and they come back smelling of food, I don’t hold a grudge. I run to the door to greet them with joy. After all, if you’re going to love, be all in.
I hope these tips help. If in doubt, just take a bit of time to sit and watch dogs, it’s very good for the soul.
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