It's a dog's life...

This is Jack:

Malamute Jack

He knows he's going to get a treat for wearing the cap.

Jack is a happy dog.

This is Ember:

Ember in a hat

She's also going to get a treat for putting up with a stupid hat.

She's also a happy dog.

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Do you ever wonder what they think of us with all the silly things we do to them?

into words, but yeah -- I wonder what goes on in their heads a lot.

And they certainly appear mystified at the thought of what could be going on in mine.

He really uses different vocalizations to convey things. If he is asleep beside my bed and I am getting up he'll give a "hey I'm here, don't step on me," low growl.

If he needs to go out NOW, he will give a kind of whimper.

If we look like we are dressed for a walk he will be jumping around saying "Hey I'm ready now, let go, with yips and yaps.

But sometimes it is just companiable vocalizations that sound like a human voice.

And of course there are occasions when he cries-- for instance when Chris left him with me in an unfamiliar place, to run an errand. I prefer not to hold him on a leash because he is much stronger than I am and he can get upset and lunge, so I am not familiar in the role of leasholder and I was holding him tightly. There were strangers walking by and he felt insecure.

Fun aren't they?


Missy the Malamute was, perhaps, my "bestest" example of a dog who worked very hard to communicate. She developed a sort of shorthand sign language using her head, face and body -- punctuated by occasional vocalizations of varying pitch and tembre -- that most people could understand.

When she was thirsty, she'd lick her chops a few times in a very obvious exaggeration. Hungry, same thing but with follow-up exaggerated bit in the air like eating. If you gave her a treat that she liked, she'd give an extra-emphatic chop-lick; if she ~loved~ it, she'd repeat the action twice.

When going up a set of metal stairs -- the type without any visible support beneath them, as they're attached at the side, and which you can see the ground straight through the back of the stairs -- she'd stick her head between the steps and look side to side, then withdraw her head and complain that there wasn't anything holding them up. Her expressing, her cries of protest and her body language all said "What?!? Are you NUTS? There's NOTHING HOLDING THEM UP! I'm NOT going up those!" We had to put a blanket over the steps to get her to climb up. She looked at it dubiously, and then at us, as if we were idiots for thinking that made the steps any more solid, but then she'd tentatively put a paw on the first step...finding it solid, she'd shoot us a glance like "uh, wow -- this is a surprise" and then go up the next step, until she eventually made it to the top of the stairs.

Going down wasn't a problem -- she'd trot down the stairs and apparently figured she could jump if they started to collapse.

When a friend asked her if she wanted a special treat, she grinned that infamous Malamute grin and nodded her head, sending the friend into peals of laughter. "She nodded! It's just like talking to a kid!"

We miss Missy, but we still have Ember, and the addition of Jack has helped everyone move onward; we'll think of our lost Woo daily, but enjoy the little girl and her new Big Dog friend every minute that we can.

Ember -- the little dog -- has her own methods of "talking" and communicating, but that's a story for another day.