Ever wonder what your dog is thinking about?
We have a Shetland Sheepdog named Riley. He is our second sheltie, and like his predecessor, he does something that I think is unusual for most breeds.
He thinks about stuff.
I’m not talking about that pre-mischief kind of thought, when you can almost see the wheels turning as they decide whether to ignore your “stay” command and chase that squirrel; or when they stare at the plate of cheese a guest left on the coffee table and wonder if they can grab a chunk or eight of cheddar without anyone noticing, or if it’s worth being yelled at if somebody does.
Most dogs engage in that sort of thinking.
But I’m talking about deep thought.
Riley and I will be walking along, and he’ll suddenly pause. Then he’ll sit, sometimes in the middle of the street, because, while shelties are one of the most intelligent breeds, they tend not to regard traffic as something to keep in mind. He’ll look around. Occasionally he’ll track a gliding hawk all the way across the sky. Or he’ll watch a leaf tumble Forrest Gump-style to the ground. When he does this, he will not move, except that the markings above his eyes that resemble eyebrows will go up and down, as if he is furrowing his brow in concentration. His mouth is closed; there is no panting, no “sheltie smile.”
He is pensive. He is considering the workings of the world. He is reflecting on nature. He is developing his philosophy.
Then he will look up at me, eyebrows raised, as if seeking confirmation. “Do you see it, too?” he seems to be asking. Or “Do you agree?”
His expression is so serious when he does this that all I want to do is commiserate, to reassure him that his musings are wise and insightful indeed, to indicate in some way that, yes, he is absolutely right.
Of course, I have no idea how to actually do this, other than to scratch his ear and say “You’re a good boy.” That’s usually enough to get us moving on our walk again, but for all I know, Riley thinks I’m an idiot.
Oh, well. He wouldn’t be the only one.
See you soon.