Winston wasn’t a great dog, but he was the best dog.
Like many dogs, he destroyed many things as a young pup – couches, pillows, screen doors and carpeting.
He howled loudly when we were gone.
He hated being alone, and he let anyone who was within hearing distance know.
Although he eventually stopped destroying things, he never stopped howling when he was left alone.
Our pets don’t ask much from us. In fact, they don’t talk, so they don’t ask anything.
However, they will let us know if they want something – often with a push of their nose, a yip or a bark or a well-placed paw on your thigh.
People often tell me what their dog is thinking. I jokingly tell them, “That’s a pretty complex thought for a dog.”
We like to assign human emotions to many things, including our pets and other animals.
But who am I to say? Maybe dogs do have complex thoughts?
What was Winston “thinking” when I took his photo?
“I’m bored. Play with me.”
“Give me a treat.”
“If you don’t finish what you’re doing soon, I am going to walk away and pee on this bush.”
“If you leave, I’m going to howl! I’m not kidding!”
* * *
Winston had been gone for about six months.
When I came home at night, he always greeted me at the door, and I would bend over and pet him a bit and talk to him.
Now, there was just silence when I entered the house. It made me a little sad to not see his face and wagging tail after a long night at work.
When I walked past the spot in the dining room where he liked to lay, I sometimes would bend over and touch the spot for a moment.
One night, I went upstairs, got undressed and went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth. I turned off the water. The house was quiet. And then as clear as could be, I heard him pant.
At once, it was familiar. I looked into the hallway. Silence.
I smiled a little, turned off the rest of the lights and went to bed.
I’d like to think that Winston was letting me know that he was OK.
* * *
For the most part, our dogs are interested in a handful of things: Eat, go out, treats, play and attention.
The most important thing that we can do as “dog’s best friend” is try to make sure that they get equal doses of all of those things.
Try to be more like your dog and less like you.