I just found out I’m smart, not crazy. What a relief.
I stumbled on an article titled: “Science: Talking to Your Dog Means You’re Smart, Not Crazy.” If this is so, I’m smarter than smart.
Nicholas Epley agrees. Epley is a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago and an expert on anthropomorphism.
Wait. What? You don’t know anthropomorphism? Don’t feel bad. I didn’t either.
Anthropomorphism is assigning human qualities to non-human things. Thanks to the article, I know what it means, but don’t ask me to say the word five times—fast.
I have a history of carrying on one-way conversations with my pets. Molly, our first dog, was my go-to when Gary spent long days in class at veterinary school and late nights studying for exams.
We were miles from home, and I poured my homesick heart out to that sweet black and white Springer Spaniel:
“Why did I ever come to this place?” I said. Molly tilted her head in sympathy and gave me her answer without saying a word.
“You’re right, girl,” I said and massaged her ears. “I’d be just as sick with him here and me there.”
A few years later, Molly served as my sounding board when I was home—alone with our first baby.
“I fed her. I changed her. And now she’s just looking at me all wide-eyed. What do you think she wants?” I asked my furry friend.
Molly extended her front paws forward, stretched her backend upward, and howled.
“You’re right, girl,” I said and hugged her neck. “She’s not crying, so she’s fine. She’s happy.”
In the same way I chatted with Molly, I talked with Isabel, also a springer spaniel, and Lucy-girlfriend, our long-haired Chihuahua look alike. All of our pets were great listeners. Well, all but one: Dickens.
Dickens came to us when I was a busy mother of three young children. He was a Norfolk Terrier—so cute you wanted to cuddle him, so cocky you wanted to bean him.
He heard, but did not listen—not to me, anyway. Oh, whenever Gary was around, Dickens saluted his master in Dr. Jekyll-like fashion.
The minute Gary left for work, that dog turned into a canine Mr. Hyde. If anyone opened a door, even the teeniest sliver, Dickens took off.
It did not matter that we had installed an underground electric fence and trained the dog to stay within its boundaries. One yip and through the fence he went.
Oh, I talked to Dickens alright—while chasing him up and down streets and in and out of neighbors’ houses.
Tender entreaties like, “Come on, boy. Look, I have a treat for you” graduated to “Get back here, you ungrateful mutt.” In between, I said, “You are going to get hit by a car” and “Leave the cat alone” and “Give me a break, will you?”
I talked until he raced out of sight. That’s when I turned my conversation to God as in “Please, God, let someone find that dog and steal him—PLEASE.”
These days, I spend my time chatting with my granddogter Stella. The antithesis of Dickens, Stella enjoys hanging out with us. She is always receptive to my thoughts, opinions, and rants.
When I talk with her, Stella wiggles her Cockapoo tail and angles her head toward me as if to say, “Is that so? Tell me more.”
According to the “Talking to Your Dog” article, “…quickness to see and read emotion and intention in your dog’s adorable tilted head is a byproduct of your skill in reading the intentions and feelings of other people.”
It goes on to say that sensitive and perceptive people talk to their pets. There you have it. I am sensitive, perceptive, and oh, so smart.