by Barry KuKes
Have you ever wondered what your pets think about all day? What do they do while you are gone? Is their day like a fictional movie that portrays the pets talking to one another or watching television? Sometimes I wonder as I leave each morning if my two dogs, Max and Bentley, begin a conversation once I am out of earshot. Do they say, “There he goes again. He won’t be back until the sun goes down.”
I know that the longer I am gone, the happier they are to see me when I return. It is said that animals have no sense of time, but I’m afraid I have to disagree with that. Countless videos show a dog reunited with its owner after an extended period of time, and the dog goes crazy because they are so happy to be with their owner once again.
Pets are happy to see you after a few hours of being away, but they don’t go crazy—my wife, a pet sitter, experiences the crazy dog and even happy cat reaction often. For in- stance, she has often not seen the pet for a year because the pets’ owners haven’t traveled since last Christmas. Pets will form a bond with many people when they trust and love that person. The bonding doesn’t take months; it can happen over a weekend if the pet feels a connection to the person.
My wife pet sits for an overnight client consistently throughout the year. She stays at their home with their five pets, so a bond has been established. When she arrives at the house, they no longer bark at her, nor are they apprehensive about why she is there. I will usually stop by once or twice a week to spend some time with my wife as she cares for the pets. Even when I show up, the pets go crazy. It’s like, “Where have you been? We have missed you!” The client has three Golden Retriever rescues, and the oldest one used to keep her distance from me when I came by. My wife said that the older dog didn’t care for men. Then, the next time I came by, the older dog came up to me wanted to be petted.
Many years ago, a friend of mine decided to get his kids a puppy for Christmas. He asked if I could keep the dog, which he had to pick up a week in advance from the breeder, until Christmas Eve. I agreed and took care of the puppy for that week. Well, the puppy and I formed an extraordinary bond. The pup would lay on my chest as we both took a nap. My friend picked up the puppy on Christmas Eve.
About nine months later, I was invited to their home for dinner. They had named the dog Barney, and as I walked into their house, Barney barked and came over to sniff me. After about ten seconds, Barney went nuts. He jumped up on me and knocked me down. He kept kissing me and crying as he spun around and snuggled on my chest. He remembered our time together. My friend said, “that dog thinks you are his father!”
About 12 years later, Barney’s health was failing, and my friend’s son called me and asked if I could come to say goodbye to Barney. By this time, I had relocated out of state but decided to drive the 8-hours to see Barney one last time. As soon as I walked into the house, Barney, who had not moved for a couple of days, shot up and came to me. I got down on my knees and hugged him, and he gave me many kisses. I stayed by his side, and within a couple of hours, Barney died in my arms as he lay on my chest. Driving back home, I shed many a tear for Barney. He was a great dog.
Our pets don’t verbalize the English language as they do in movies or cartoons, but they communicate their feelings and needs to us in other ways. Listen to your pets’ cries, watch their movements, take note of their behavior. A pet’s day is much shorter than the days humans spend be-cause their lives are so much shorter as well. How could a pet have no concept of time when their time on this earth is so very short.
Please, adopt, don’t shop.
Barry KuKes is the Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society. You can reach Barry at 386. 274.4703, ext. 320, or BarryK@halifax humanesociety.org