The other day I was sitting with Luke while he ate. Elsa was long done and sitting as well; quietly watching for that moment when I would pick up the bowl and she gets to eat what has been spilled on the ground. Luke regularly spits the undesirables on the ground and she knows this. As she sat watching he looked up to see her watching; she immediately turned her head. I thought to myself at that moment "it's like a dance." Dog signals to each other are just like a dance; so much so that they almost look synchronized when two well read and spoken dogs get together.
We humans can see the signals but typically don't; not unless you know what you are looking at and are watching. If you turn away while two dogs are interacting you can miss so much information. Most people would not have seen the silent communication between Luke and Elsa. There was no sound, nothing drawn out; it was quick and clearly understood. Clearly understood is probably the most important thing here. Many dogs don't communicate quite as clearly and there in lies a problem. Of course personality will factor in; some dogs would challenge Luke on his "my food" communication. When Luke looked at Elsa, there was no anger; he was simply stating that his food was not up for grabs. She clearly understood this and by turning away; let him know that she had no intention of moving in on it.
Writing this blog this morning made me think of this song. One of my all time favorites. Garth Brooks song done by Scotty McCreery, two of my favorites.
I remember when Jessie and Tilley were getting way up into their senior years. We had an incident one night that made me aware that I had to be even more vigilant than I typically am. Jessie wandered over to Tilley while she was eating; I was doing the dishes and had turned away for an instant. I heard a very loud growl from Tilley and turned just in time to scoop Jessie up and away from Tilley's food. In an instant Tilley would have flashed her a look; frozen her posture and lastly felt the need to growl at Jessie's continual approach. Jessie, having poor vision, loss of hearing and suffering from Dementia had missed it all. Something that would have never happened when she was young. When the dogs were a young pack, I loved watching their communication dance. It is truly amazing how much is said between dogs without ever uttering a word.
You have to watch to see. Seems like a simple concept but we humans aren't so good at it; we are seriously inferior to dogs in the watching and seeing department. When you do take the time to watch; or decide to become more vigilant in your canine communication watching, you will be amazed. But you have to learn what to look for; when dogs are together it is a constant stream of communications. It is so fast that by the time I can say "see that?" That is gone and missed by the other person. So getting a good understanding of signals before trying to see them is essential.
I love it, canine communication, the dance.