Living with dogs is a bit like visiting a place where the language is completely unfamiliar. With some pantomime and contextual grunting, you can communicate the basics of food and bathroom, but higher-order sharing is usually out of reach. Now some might question how much higher-order sharing can occur between a boy and his dog, but I’m going to assume the premise and move on. So the moments when Luc (it’s almost always Luc, who’s uncanny in this regard) clearly shows me what he’s thinking feel like breakthroughs. It’s one of the reasons I love scent-detection training with the dogs (more on this soon!). When we’re working, I get vicarious access to their sensory world, and I can watch Luc or Cass making decisions based on perceptions that are wholly inaccessible to me.
The connections are often more fleeting, though, but Luc is teaching me to pay attention. We spend a lot of time in the woods together, and usually he’s on a mission of his own devising, often involving large, hoofed mammals. But the other day, we came to a fork, and he stopped to check in with me.
He normally just chooses a direction, but this day he decided to make it a shared decision.