Tuesday, August 16, 2011
We’ve all seen the stories of heroic canine rescues, and remarkable behavior of loyal and loving pets. We’ve heard of service dogs and rescue dogs, but what about the heroic dogs that aren’t trained in any way but still perform amazing intuitive acts? Some of these may not be newsworthy, but they are evidence of the intuition that dogs have, and how they use it. Dogs are naturally in tune with the weather, their surroundings, and the humans around them.
Dogs can feel and smell the changes in the air when bad weather is brewing, and if the humans pay attention to their dogs they may be better prepared for whatever is coming. Everything from earthquakes to tornados and blizzards cause dogs to adopt a pack mentality of gathering those they feel responsible for and settling in for safety. Our dog Bear can hear or feel thunder before any of us, and she begins to make rounds of the house. We can tell she’s getting nervous because she tucks her tail and constantly runs from person to person almost like she’s herding us. Once we begin to hear thunder as well, we know why she was rounding up the pack. She often hides under the bed or some other protected small space but she keeps an eye on us and will run out to check if one of us is in another room.
One thing I’ve always stood by is the belief that if a dog immediately decides not to like someone despite being “introduced” and never having any interaction with that person, there is something about the person that the dog recognizes as a threat in some way. I’ve seen it happen with even the most amiable dogs – someone triggers some sort of defense response in the dog and it simply will not warm up to that person. In all the cases I know of, the dog was right.
Whether trained as a guard dog or not, all canines are loyal and defensive of their family and home. If a burglar were to break in, dogs will defend their home and family with their very lives. We may try to domesticate and humanize our pets, but dogs have a pack mentality and their people are their pack. They will pick up and carry babies if necessary to save them from danger in a fire or flood. Dogs have been known to awaken their owners by barking and pulling them from their beds when there is danger about. This natural intuition is what makes dogs ideal for being trained as service dogs and for search and rescue work.
Dogs are more sensitive to our emotions than we know. Whether there is tension and stress in the house or happiness and elation, dogs will respond. When we are having a good time laughing and playing as a family, Bear usually gets in on the fun by running in circles around us, jumping and barking. She’s also usually the last one to calm down afterwards. If I’m feeling down or having a bad day, she seems to know and will sit beside me and put her head on my knee, or lick my hand. When one of the kids is upset, she seems to know where she’s needed and she’ll go hang out in their room with them for a while.
The natural intuition of dogs is a lot of the reason why they are called man’s best friends. While they may not be able to speak our language, dogs are empathetic, compassionate and fierce protectors who get the message across clearly without words. They are our pets, our friends and our companions. Around our house the dog is a member of the family. Responsible pet owners offer their dogs the same amount of protection and loyalty that the dog gives to the family, and do everything they can to keep their four legged friend healthy and safe.
Photo by Mike Ward
Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie