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The Comforting Language of Dog

A Personal Perspective: When words are not needed.

Key points

  • A furry child communicates without words.
  • When we are with our pets, we talk less and listen more.
  • We can learn much from wordless communication.
  • They communicate with their souls, reminding us of the importance of silence.

“If only Molly could talk, “Paul has said countless times. “I would love to know what she is thinking.” I shake my head in disagreement. “If she could talk, she would be like one of our kids and that would change everything.” One of the best qualities of a furry child is the ability to communicate without words, without so many empty sounds taking up space. Of course, words can add a depth to any relationship, but they also cause faulty assumptions, suffering, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings. So why would I want sweet Molly to speak and become a talking human with all our foibles caused by utterances? Most of all, I already know what she is thinking without a single utterance.

Molly and her human
Source: bjaffe/blogger

I adore how she stands looking up at me while I am eating my dinner, her eyes solidly locked with my own with such force that with almost every bite of my chicken, my head sways toward her like a magnet. Her staring becomes unnerving, forcing me to respond. I know exactly what she wants without one word spoken Not even a bark. She is brilliant in her nuanced communicative silence.

She suddenly appears under my desk while I am tapping away on the keyboard and pushes her cold, damp nuzzle into my warm fleece-covered legs. I look at the corner of my computer, realizing it’s time for her late morning walk. How did she know it was 11:00? I was in another zone, writing, escaping into my cluttered mind, but without one word, Molly brought me back to her dog reality of importance--another heavenly neighborhood excursion.

Molly in her bed
Source: bjaffe/blogger

“Do you want to go on a walk?” I ask her this redundantly silly human question, for, of course, I already know the answer. I love the unbridled joy of her spinning around in circles as her long, straight black, white and brown hair flies every which way. Her excitement equals a five- year-old hearing they will go to Disneyland, but no words are necessary. This upcoming walk is Molly’s Disneyland, yet I don’t have to hear about child needs: “Will you buy me Mickey Mouse ears? Candy? Can I go on every ride? I’m hungry.” Molly is contented with whatever street we walk on, for every street is her Main Street.

And when I’m feeling low or under the weather, she lies next to me on the couch, so closely that her fur and my thigh become one. She doesn’t need words, but I know she is infusing me with her ‘feel better pup medicine,' nurturing and replenishing. I don’t have to explain to her that I am out of sorts, that I want to retreat within, to cut the world off and take solace in my book. What she says to me, instead, speaks so loudly: I am here for you. You don’t need to tell me what’s wrong. You are a loving dog parent and I don’t need anything from you except your snuggles and love.

Resting on her human's feet (making her feel better)
Source: bjaffe/blogger

When my dearest friend and sister-in-law Marilyn died and I returned home after the funeral, Molly sensed I was lost and devastated. What possible words could anyone say? But she knew just what to say with her body. She crawled up into my lap, as I lay on the rug in my office. She buried her head in my shoulder and stayed there until I stood up. She gave me her soul and that was everything.

The simple pleasures in Molly's life
Source: bjaffe/blogger

So, no, I don’t want Molly to talk. Rather, when I am with her, I talk less which is even better. I stroke her hair and rub her belly, scratch behind her ears to let her know that she is so very important to me. Through her, I have learned the language of dog, one where no words are necessary. The widening of her eyes, the helicopter tail, warm licks, and joyful jumping on laps is really all the language I need.