Communication Skills I Learned from My Dog

My dog Brooklyn is the most awesome dog anywhere, ever. That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s fact. She’s a yellow Lab. She’s almost 10 years old and I learn from her every day.

I first met her shortly after she was born. Her eyes weren’t open and she couldn’t really do anything but swim-crawl and squeal. Our second meeting was more auspicious – she promptly climbed into my lap and went to sleep. Already she was telling me that we belonged together.

Once she was old enough to come home with me, we began training. House training, shoe training, and sleep training. All of it an exchange of information. For example, her peeing on my favorite wool carpet let me know that I was not getting her outside in time. She housebroke me at about four months old. The shoe training took me longer.

Today, we have an easy rapport born out of years of living together. She gets a treat after each meal. Once she has finished eating, she finds me and promptly sits in front of me…staring with liquid brown-eyed expectation. No words need to be spoken – she knows I know it’s treat time. She’s also an excellent listener. She has rehearsed more roles with me than I care to admit and she doesn’t fault me for dropping a line or playing a little loose with the dialogue. I will admit though that she does emit a certain sniffing disdain for my Irish accent. She’s very direct with her wants – eat this, sniff that, lick this. There’s no pretense or guile. Moreover, she’s fearless. Except for thunderstorms and fireworks and well, all loud noises really, but other than that, she has no inhibitions whatsoever.

She loves to be petted – but then, who doesn’t? She’s vain enough to prance a little after being groomed, but then again, who doesn’t? Her steadfastness never ceases to amaze me. She likes me. She likes to be with me. She doesn’t have to say a word but the fact that she’ll get up when I do and resettle herself in the room I’ve moved into, speaks volumes about her desire for proximity. She “tattles” on our other dog Bronx, when Bronx is getting too rowdy during play. We jokingly call her “The Sheriff” because she’s a peacekeeper.

Brooklyn has taught me a lot about the power of silence, and silent leadership. When we’re walking, I never have to tell her which way we’re going, it’s symbiotic – I lead and she follows. She trusts me and I trust her and it just works. In the past almost 10 years, she’s never made me feel small, betrayed my confidence or told a lie. She is present and fully engaged whenever she interacts with anyone, be it human or otherwise. She continues to set an awesome example.

She’s also taught me about the power of a big, enthusiastic slurp-kiss, but that’s a conversation for a different day.

LB Adams

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