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What I know for sure is that Hendrix and I speak another language between each other.
While this has to be true for any dog owner and their dog, I am confident that I have consistently tried to learn his language over these last fifteen years we have been together.
I am certain that Hendrix knows more about me than I know about myself. He knows my routines. He knows all the cooking sounds. More importantly, he knows the sound of ingredients as they are pulled from the pantry or the refrigerator. He would be sound asleep some mornings, and I would pull an egg out of the refrigerator egg shelf and suddenly-I’m talking light speed- he would be sitting in the kitchen watching to see if I would be turning it into soft boiled or scrambled or a Dutch Baby soufflé pancake.
And how does he discern the specific sound of the peanut butter jar versus say mustard? Can he actually smell the difference between a bag of treats instead of a bag of trail mix?
This is the strongest and longest relationship I’ve ever been in and I can say that I’ve never been tired of seeing him or mad at the sounds he makes when eating or drinking water, unlike humans I have been with. He may feel differently about me.
Actually, he has expressed boredom with me many times when I continue to sit and work from the computer on the table, and then get up to work on recipes and back and forth. But he would show me his frustration by flopping down as if, “I give up” and throws a clever dachshund side eye when he’s wanted to go out for a walk. And I noticed, and would give in to the much needed walks throughout the day. I am grateful for his way of keeping me from being too sedentary.
Over all the years of traveling to cook, I think he got used to his dog sitters coming by my apartment in Brooklyn to take him out on fun adventures if I wasn’t taking him with me. This dog has been in planes, trains, subways, taxis, boats, yachts and even once on a private jet.
I’ve seen him smile when we have been running through JFK together and when standing at the front of a boat while friends and I pull in fish.
He has his own way of messaging me. Over the last couple of months, he’s been up at night pacing a lot. Sometimes getting stuck in a corner somewhere in the house and/or falling asleep standing up and taking a dive in his water bowl by accident.
I’ve watched my dog as his life seems to be winding down over the last few months. He sits in the window and observes quietly now rather than on alert as he used to. I think he’s telling me when he looks in the mirror with me and he sees himself that he sees us. I see it in his eyes as he looks at mine in the mirror and then his. He sees our aging and he seems to know he will go sooner than me.
While it seems our pet dogs need us to take care of them since they are in our captivity, I wonder sometimes if this is some random strange experiment from somewhere out there with no real control or agenda. All we know is that man and dog have been besties for a long time. We helped each other survive. But now we have pet spas and blueberry oat cookies for dogs. And we have depends for our elder dogs.
And why do we people think that our version of narrative from our perspective means anything? Dogs have their unique way of knowing everything they need to know through a heightened sense of smell and sound or tone in the room. Talk about survivors.
He sat on my torso yesterday after I did a virtual cross fit class and was catching a breath while laying on my yoga mat. I placed him on top of me and he sat there posed squatted there on fore arms and hind legs and stared right through to me.
Maybe their narrative is far more interesting. I know he was trying to tell me he expected more. I didn’t know how to respond. I tried just gently massaging him but felt he wanted to continue the conversation. Maybe they can see our weaknesses and are more okay with it than we are.
I wish I could sense everything he tells me. What I know for sure is that he tries to tell me everything. Last night, late into the night and earlier than the morning, he let out a few sighs and then a moan kind of howl. I do know that this didn’t sound good.
I got dressed to take him to an emergency hospital since the his regular vet wouldn’t open until 7:00am. I looked up pet hospitals and called one but they said I would have to wait 4-6 hours for a doctor to see him. Then I looked at other options and the yelp reviews sounded terrible. I’ve been in ER with my other dog years ago and I wasn’t going to take Hendrix to some slimy late night place to wait with pet hairs in the corners and the smell of lysol and urine permeated in the pink brown linoleum tiles.
I am the one in denial. The one that can’t let go. The ignorant one. The human with their own narrative agenda who barely understands that my best friend just loves me. This is love and it is what I know for sure.
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