Reflection: Animal Communication
By Cori Arnold (05/11/09 14:56:01)
Related animal: Dog

Labor Day weekend my twelve-year old family Dachshund passed away. My mother had called me two days before telling me that the dog had become rapidly ill and that the veterinarians were doing testing. His life and his pain quickly ended, leaving me very sad and determined to raise a dog of my own.

Within twenty-four hours I had found the most adorable Dachshund ever! He was black and tan with curly long hair, and the cutest eyes a puppy could posses. I was instantly sold and brought him home. From the moment that I had first seen this dog he was the happiest non-human animal I had ever encountered. To this day he is still the happiest dog I have ever known. In addition to his blissful personality he is extremely intelligent. Anything that he has been taught he picks up within a few hours. I was having extreme difficulties with having him go to the bathroom outside, because he would not bark to let me know that he needed to go outside. Since it was around Christmas, I had a bunch of old sleigh bells and decided to try and hang one from a piece of string on the back door, in hopes that he would ring it when he needed to be let out. Initially I was very skeptical of this method; even though, other dog owners had told me it had worked for them in the past. I hung the bell and showed him once or twice what the purpose of it was and within an hour or two he had figured it out! I was astonished with how quickly he had learned to use the bell as a form of communication with me.

There are many things, which I have trained my dog to do and I could probably write a short book about his intelligence and his modes of communicating with me, but one last thing I would like to mention is giving him his daily medication. A few months ago, he had a foreign body stuck in his left eyeball. I had to take him to an eye specialist in Arroyo Grande to have it removed and fortunately he completely healed and was back to normal within two weeks following the procedure. The eye-specialist informed my husband and I that we would need to give him eye drops for the rest of his life two times a day, stating that this would help prevent him from having dry-eye and possibly running into the same issue again. I was extremely concerned that it would be difficult to give him the drops twice each day, especially after watching "The Dog Whisperer", because there are couples on that show all of the time who have issues with giving their dogs medication. I decided to try and make him as comfortable as I could when giving him the drops. First, I began by sitting down on the floor and having him curl up into my lap. Then, I would let him smell what I was about to put into his eyes, so he knew what to expect. Finally, once I was finished I would give him a treat for being a good dog. This has quickly become our daily routine, to the point where all I need to say is "Topper let's do your eye drops" and he is running over to me to curl up into my lap, putting his head back and keeping his eyes open. I barely need to do anything to hold him still, it is amazing!

I find it fascinating that although I can not physically communicate in English with my dog, we have managed to find our own way of communicating with one another. Obviously my methods are not full-proof, but are and have been extremely useful. I have found the work I've been doing to raise my pet very helpful to understanding how I can possibly communicate with other non-human animals. I have learned that it is not impossible to communicate with the other species, it may be difficult and take time to figure out, but I do feel that it is quite important to understand non-human animals and their interactions with humans.

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Notice how his left eye is dilated, this was after the foreign body was removed.
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