By Alejandra Peimbert
One Saturday evening, I was leaving my apartment complex and I ran into my neighbor Bob, who is an avid dog lover and current owner of two adorable Yorkies, Romeo and Juliet. Bob was waiting by the door for a neighbor who sadly had to put down one of his Poodles due to age and poor health conditions. We engaged in conversation for a bit and Bob said one of the most soul touching statements I have ever heard…
He said: “I wish God gave dogs/pets the gift to talk for just a total of 5 minutes throughout their life time. So when they get old or are in pain we could better know what to do. It would also be nice to know if we are doing the right thing for them, like imagine if they could say: “my stomach hurts” or “I don’t like this food” or “my favorite spot to be pet is here”…wouldn’t that be great?! I would love that…”
Bob’s glee and warmth in expressing the above touched my heart and really got me thinking about this. What if dogs, cats or just pets in general could talk for only 5 minutes throughout their entire life span? As someone who completed a Master in Corporate & Marketing Communications and loves animals, my head started spinning and imagining what this would be like. “When would our pets decide to communicate with us?” “What type of things would they share?” “Would some pets curse?” “Would some tell jokes to make us laugh?” “Would they tell us if they liked our boyfriend or girlfriend?” “Would they call us out on things?” or “Would it just be random seconds of suddenly hearing: “Squirrel!!!!!”, “ball time!” and/or “Let’s go on a walk!”
However, all pet owners know that their animal can “talk” and communicate their needs, one just needs to be observant and sensitive enough to notice. For example, my Havanese mix Waly nudges me with his little nose on my leg when I am around the kitchen. I know he is alerting me of his presence and is wanting me to give him something. Every time after I feed him, Waly comes to wherever I am in the house to give me kisses, I think it is his way of saying thanks and he gets a bit playful so I give him my attention. Often, when I am on my bed and on my computer or iPad for a long time he just sits staring at me until I make eye contact with him, and when I smile he barges in, sits on my chest and gives me licks. That means he either wants to go out or just wants me to love him a bit more than my computer or phone.
In addition, for your dog to know how to better communicate with you, you can also do certain things to help him. For example, the way I have found it is best to communicate with Waly is to: keep a routine, use the same words in relation to the same action, alternate my tone of voice, and not call his name unless I really want his attention or want him to come towards me. Using my body language too, like hand gestures and facial expressions, also lets Waly know what I want him to do.
Maybe animals do not have the ability to talk in our human language because people already do too much talking. Our minds are already cluttered with so much information, opinions and criticism that maybe God decided it would just be better for our lives if he kept our pets “mute” for our wellbeing. Many scientific studies have concluded that animals help reduce stress in people, including the February 2018 newsletter from the National Institutes of Health which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The newsletter quotes Dr. Ann Berger who works with patients who are terminally ill or have cancer, and she teaches them about mindfulness. Dr. Berger stated, “The foundations of mindfulness include attention, intention, compassion, and awareness…All of those things are things that animals bring to the table. People kind of have to learn it. Animals do this innately.”
Then I turned Bob’s beautiful statement around and applied it to humans: “What if humans only had five minutes to talk throughout their entire life time?” And this train of thought really hit me hard…Honestly, think about this: WHAT would you decide to say and WHEN if you only got 5 minutes to talk throughout your entire human life span? Don’t you suddenly realize there are so many moments you should’ve just stayed quiet? And/or used different words? Doesn’t that make you want to be more positive and kinder with what you say? It did to me…
Anyway, although our pets cannot talk, I still feel that my dog Waly gets me better than any human. He is a great listener and knows how to make me laugh and feel loved. Pets are for sure our little buddhas and we should cherish every second we have with them because we never know when they will no longer be by our side.