In Other Words (April A~Z Challenge)


on the left, Rosa Parks; on the right, Darla

The other day I mentioned how when I say “Good Morning” to my dogs, what they hear is something more like “Roll over: show me your belly, and I will give you one hundred belly rubs.” They are so sure of it, that if I attempt to stop after only a dozen – or even fifty – belly rubs, they protest. Darla moans and puts on her sorriest expression; Rosa Parks takes my hand in her mouth to guide it (foolish me, to have lost my way) right back to her belly.

If I absolutely have to move away before that job is done…if my knees are screaming that I have to change position or my bladder is crying that I’d better make a beeline for the bathroom…both dogs flop onto their side. They don’t speak, of course, but I can read their minds. Darla’s train of thought goes this way: “What the hell?? What’s going on?? Weren’t we comfortable?? Weren’t we good?? Where is she going??” Rosa Parks simply murmurs under her breath, “That selfish bitch!”

I think I’ve grown more tolerant as I’ve grown older…but there’s a definite possibility that I simply have more patience with dogs than I do with humans. When Rosa Parks  scratches at the door asking to go out, then retreats to the rug to await her reward, I always calmly say, “Oh, you fooled me again,” as I give her a bit of kibble.  When Darla and I – returning from our walk – encounter Rosa Parks at the end of the driveway, we all pretend she walked all of the way with us. “That was a nice walk, girls,” I say, as together we make our way back to the door. “I think we’re fine,” I say soothingly, over and over, as their agitated, sharp barking at the road truck nearly raises the roof.

When my daughters were young, we had a beagle that didn’t understand English; he responded solely to our tone of voice. The girls would demonstrate for visitors. They’d say, “Good dog, Joe,” in a stern voice; his ears would droop and his tail would go between his legs. “Bad boy, Joe,” they’d say in a lilting tone, and he’d come running with his tail wagging.

Dogs read so much into the tone of voice that it’s possible to vent quite a bit of frustration in words…as long as I mind the inflection. When I say “Good girls, outside and inside one hundred times” (as the dogs are tag-teaming for the treats I offer when they come back inside), it is with an even tone that never gives away the inherent sarcasm. “You have been in and out one dozen times already this morning and I don’t for a minute believe that your situation is so desperate right now that it couldn’t wait until I got done with my bath,” I say – in a sweet voice – as I walk, dripping, to the door.

“She falls for it every single time,” Rosa Parks thinks, with a smile.


About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

12 responses »

  1. Cindy, I do have to say I find dogs or cats, in my case, often far superior company to humans. They rarely complain, love you unconditionally, and whatever you want to do are eager to join in. Rosa Parks, luv it. Nice writing. Susie

    • Thanks so much! The dogs are my only company these days. I’m thankful to work in customer service, so interact with plenty of humans there, and that my dogs are excellent company. Thank you for reading, Susie, and for your comments!

  2. Oh I know this story all too well, Cindy. My two dogs – Toffee and Shylah – pick up on everything. With Toffee, I can use the sweet voice and she’ll be fooled. Shylah is hyper-sensitive so she reads my energy and body language and spots my fake a mile away. She’ll literally stop in her tracks and stare at me, head cocked, if I’m walking on my property with them and thinking about something that is bothering me.
    And, like you, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

    • They sure are special to me! I know what you mean about picking up on your energy. Rosa Parks came in to my life during a tragic, hard time. I had her sleep on the sofa with me, because she wasn’t house-trained yet. Then, and for all of her life, if I’m having a really awful day where I just want to sob into my pillow, she sleeps right at my neck. Every other night, she sleeps at the foot of the bed. It’s a blessing to have her!

    • Thank you! I was always a cat person, too. Then I took in one rescue dog (cats did not approve) then another. We all adjusted, but it was a big adjustment. As my cats died (two were 16 and seventeen years old; the third had a heart condition), I decided not to replace the cats as I still had several years ahead with the dogs, and I have a small house. As one dog died, I got another, so always had two. It’s now been ten years since I’ve had cats. Now it’s dogs and mice, I guess.Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

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