Carmel Magazine

Spring/Summer 2020

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Page 45 of 155

A s I write this the end of March, (publishing lead times being what they are) we have begun our shelter in place response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hav- ing no idea where we'll be when this comes out on June 1, I was tempted to write about the problems our dogs face shel- tering with us. That's right. It's not about you sheltering with your pooch. It's about your best four-legged friend having to put up with you 24/7! Seriously, it's been said that all we are is energy and vibration. Your dog gets that. He/she feels your anxiety, stress and fear. While your daily routine has changed dramatically, so has your dog's. Be aware that your beloved pooch may be out of sorts, worried and needs a lot more TLC than you normally give. That said, rather than focus on conditions that hopefully have passed, let's explore something else you undoubtedly experienced more of during the extended home time. I confess. I talk to Winnie. A lot. Including right now as she sits on my lap while I'm typing, nose between my clumsy paws as I two- finger the keys. "What do you think, girl? You okay with this?" I ask. To which her look clearly answers, "I'll get back to you when you have something wor th yapping about." She's right, of course. For me, talking to Winifred offers a safe space to verbalize thoughts running through my head without critical feedback— other than an occasional sigh and Winnie burying her head between her paws. (All right. So maybe that could be con- strued as a less than positive critique.) Alone with our fur babies, we're free to confide our most sensitive and private thoughts. Our dogs listen, never question our motives or other agendas, and keep their mouths shut. (For the most part.) Of course the other side of "Do you talk to your dog?" is "Does your dog talk back to you?" Animal-studies scholar, Erica Fudge, suggests, "We like our pet's silence, because it allows us to write their words for them." Guilty as charged! When asking Winifred what she thinks of what I'm writing I know her answer because it is to myself as much as to Winnie I am speaking and answering. Putting words in her mouth allows me to hear aloud the words in my head and test their veracity. Then again, if you believe a "picture is worth a thousand words," your pooch is a continuous Instagram of beautiful pic- tures that speak more eloquently than any words. I say, "Good Morning, Winnie. Have a good night's sleep?" And Winnie answers with a sparkle in her big brown eyes and her tongue in my ear. Her meaning is clear. And so is my response— though I have yet to answer in kind. That evening I'm sitting up in bed reading, Winnie at my feet giving me her laser look. I meet her longing gaze. "Okay, come on up…" She wiggle-worms an inch at a time up the bed until she's stretched along my thigh, her head nudging my right hand. I massage her neck and velvet ears; stop to turn the page of the book in my lap. Her paw claws my paw back to work on her ears. Winnie's not afraid to show me exactly what she needs and wants. Not a bad lesson for those of us who can't stop babbling. I continue to rub her neck and furr y head until it's time to turn another page. Hardly a second after my hand leaves, Winifred pushes her snout under the righthand flap of the book and jerks up, the flap flipping up and over nearly closing the book. You don't have to be fluent in dog-speak to translate: "I'll tell you when you're through, Oman!" And I am back massaging her neck and ears. Then again, perhaps all the above is way over analyzing. Maybe it's as simple as: we love to hear ourselves talk—and have a close friend listen and keep their opinions to themselves. Uh oh…Winnie is giving me that look again. A best-selling author in a previous life, Mark Oman is now co- author with Winifred of "Life is Good. I'm a Dog…And You're Not!" available at Mark and Winnie live in Carmel with four-legged brother, Winston, and two-legged wife, Barbara. For more information, email DOG TALES M A R K O M A N While your daily routine has changed dramatically, so has your dog's. Talk to Your Dog? 44 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 2 0

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