So I’m sitting in the Waiting Area at a vet’s office, where I have accompanied my daughter, who has made an appointment for her cat, who has a cough. This is the same vet’s office where we once brought another cat, who didn’t get to go home, a trauma of such magnitude, it is impossible for me to even think about having another pet.
I need a distraction, to take my mind off of “Franky”, the cat who didn’t get to go home. (Though, to believers of a certain persuasion, she may have gotten to go Home.) I find that distraction in a dog waiting to see the vet, a beautiful black and white I-don’t-know-what, but I have the feeling its ancestors rounded things up.
The dog has caught my attention, because, when it was time for it to be taken “in the back”, it insistently did not want to go.
(Note: I mean no disrespect by calling the dog “it.” I did not look underneath to determine its gender, and if I had, I would very likely have remained in the dark.)
The dog’s unwillingness to cooperate left the vet’s assistant no alternative but to drag it to the back. The dog resisted by digging in its nails, which everyone sitting there could detect scraping gratingly along the Waiting Area’s uncarpeted floor. In the cartoon version, sparks would have been flying off of the concrete.
You identify with the dog; or at least, I do. Its behavior is not dissimilar to the behavior I display when my dentist invites me into The Room With The Chair.
I felt a bonding empathy. But there was something else going on as well. An awareness I had never experienced before. Or at least never with such blinding clarity.
This dog remembers.
If it didn’t, it would have padded obliviously into the back, like, “I’m here; now, I’m going there.” No trepidation. No concern. The reason?
This was clearly not the case here. This dog remembered what was in store for it in the back. And it insistently wanted no part of it.
This gets me thinking. If dogs can remember – which this one certainly could or why the big fuss? – what else is going on in their minds that we don’t know about?
I’m not a dog. I don’t know what they think. And I’m reluctant to Disney my human impressions onto their doggified brains. It’s possible dogs don’t think anything, though the door to that unlikelihood was rapidly closing. It now seemed likely that dogs did at least have the capacity to think certain things.
I wondered if, perhaps, dogs think things like this:
“How can anyone get around on two legs?”
“What if one ‘dog year’ isn’t seven ‘human years’, but just one?”
“This stuff in a tin they’re feeding me, have they ever tasted it themselves?”
“My tongue is too big.”
“I bark; therefore, I am.”
“Sometimes I feel this overpowering impulse to get sheep to line up.”
“Chasing cars is ridiculo…ooh, there goes a car!!!”
“I wag my tail in time to a tune whose name remains annoyingly on the tip of my oversized tongue.”
“I don’t know a single dog who enjoys wearing a sweater.”
“Nobody likes drinking out of the toilet. We do it, because it’s the only water we can reach.”
“One day I had testicles; the next day I didn’t.”
“I could have the solution to world hunger, but do you think they’d listen to a dog? Do I have the solution to world hunger? I don’t even think about it. Why bother?”
And finally, the thought I see most clearly in this dog’s pleading eyes, as it’s hauled off to an appointment with something altogether unpleasant:
“Don’t just stare at me, you idiot. Help me!”