In communication

ani1Quite why Ani thinks I would really like a squashed spider I don’t know. Be that as it may, it is, with great care and delicacy, deposited on my lap. Perhaps she is working on the same principle that makes her alert me to the baby birds blown from the nest early each summer, or maybe she thinks I can fix it, the way her toys are magically restored with needle and thread when the stuffing ‘falls’ out. This, sadly, is beyond my aid. Yet she keeps her nose glued to the lifeless creature as I take it out into the garden. Some things you just can’t fix.

AniFor all my questions about what moves her to do certain things, we understand each other pretty well, she and I, in spite of an obvious absence of a common language. Her various barks, rumbles and cries, though I can’t read them word for word, I grasp in essence. Some things are very clear, others mere generalisations where my comprehension is concerned, but I know the difference between, ‘that ruddy cat is in my garden again,’ and ‘I’m not happy with that strange noise out there’. Some things are as clear as if I had learned a smattering of her verbal language, as she has learned to understand the incomprehensible collection of sounds that constitute English.

ani3Ani recognises her toys by name, but that doesn’t mean she understands entirely all the connotations and associations I have with, for example, ‘duck’ or ‘ball’. She obviously has her own and her relationship with each toy is entirely different. Some furries she will happily unstuff, some are carried around gently, lovingly, and the Ball of Power has a deep significance to her that goes way beyond a game of fetch, encompassing things of which I may only ever manage to understand the merest fragment. Yet, there are points common to each of us where understanding touches, enough for communication.

ani2It doesn’t stop with verbalisation. The communication goes deeper, exploring other senses as well as a certain indefinable awareness of each other. Body language says a good deal more than we give it credit for as a rule. With a dog, you soon learn to give it its proper place in the range of communication skills.

ani poorly 026The eyes too speak volumes… as anyone who has been directed to ‘pick up the ball’ by Ani could attest. Eyes say so much in any language, so does a smile… and you can clearly tell the difference between the grin of a dog cooling itself down and happy smiles, in just the same way that a fake or warm smile on a human face is easy to read. Scent… dogs outstrip us at every turn. They can read us with their noses in ways we can barely imagine. But even here it is a two way communication, as anyone who has ever sat with a dog on their feet, a dog moreover who is intent on emanating more noxious gases per cubic centimetre of air than should be possible, will tell you. Illness too you can smell… that doggy aroma may not be to most people’s taste, but it does have its uses.

ani 006Touch always transmits far more than words alone could say and though the human and canine interpretations of the need for comfort and affection, the need to express and share love may be different in detail, there the essence of the communication is the same. Her head on your knee and those big brown eyes speak volumes.

ani4This only works between Ani and those who know her… who take the time to see her, be aware of her and learn her ‘language’. Others may just see an over-bouncy, demanding animal and miss the sense of humour… for she has one… and all the other little details that make her as unique a being as the rest of us.

ani 009The danger is that we try to project our own emotions onto the animals we know, expecting to understand them in our own terms… because, after all, those terms are all we have and they are limited. The interspecies communication, however, seems to work somehow; perhaps because we take notice of each other, take the time to learn each other’s ways and are open to all the minute signals that allow that communication to take place. And because we want to. Communication and understanding do not need a common language. It helps, but there are other ways.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in Dogs, Friendship, Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to In communication

  1. Ritu says:

    Our fur babies definitely demonstrate this to us!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sadje says:

    Pets indeed have a way of telling you their emotions and needs.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. jenanita01 says:

    As I get older, I find myself understanding people less and animals more. (and I know which I prefer!)


  4. Chris Hewitt says:

    Lovely post. I’d say 70% of communication with my pup Archer is non-verbal. Body language and subtle queues with the eyes. The same with the cats, who hasn’t enjoyed an invitation for a long blink.


  5. mbrazfieldm says:

    Those eyes!!!! Awwww so cute. And full of love…❤❤❤❤


  6. quiall says:

    Even among people non-verbal communication is far more prevalent than most people know. With animals it is vital to pay attention. The reward? A loving and complex relationship!


  7. Mary Smith says:

    With my cat it’s almost entirely non-verbal (on her side, I prattle on to her) and communication is done through stares and telepathy.


  8. Denis1950 says:

    Ani is looking wiser and kinder with age Sue. A beautiful photo essay of the girl and a lovely shared story of her verbal and physical communications a she ensures you stay on track.


  9. I love when you post this furry sweatheart!!! That face and those eyes with make you laugh, or go…. Aww, come here baby!
    Such a sweet baby!!! 💗


  10. A lovely post, Sue, and as a dog-lover my whole life, something I can relate to. I read once that dogs/canines and humans have been together so many millennia that we’ve actually evolved together, honing a genetic ability to read each other’s cues. Dogs alerted our ancestors to danger, hunted with them, and provided companionship. I love the idea that our two species have this special evolutionary relationship. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Violet Lentz says:

    Your love for Ani speaks volumes, Sue.


  12. Darlene says:

    Ani, what a sweetie. Animals are so much more intelligent than many would believe. I know when Dot is having a bad day and she knows when I am. We don’t even have to say anything. I love how thye know their toys by name and treat them all differently.


  13. Lovely post about Ani as always Sue. Sam could modulate his groan to denote impatience, dislike of an activity or his frustration with our lack of comprehension.. or choice to do so. When you have such a close and intimate relationship for many years you learn the shorthand.. hugsxx


  14. -Eugenia says:

    Aww, what a beautiful pup! Animals are awesome!


  15. This is so like Maggie Sue! You are right in that our furbabies have their ways to communicate with us, and we get to know the difference between their cries and whimpers. We ask Maggie to ‘Show Me’, and if she’s hurt herself, she’ll lie down and offer the painful foot or tummy for inspection, or if she’s hungry, she’ll head to the kitchen and sit by the doggie cupboard.
    We do indeed project our thoughts and ideas to her mannerisms, but most is second guessing though we know her well enough to know when something is ‘off’. If she’s not feeling well, she comes to me, whereas if she’s unsure or worried about something, she goes to Hubby.
    All her toys are ‘Baby’ and have to be where she can find them.
    Such a heartwarming post. Love and hugs to Ani. She and Maggie are no doubt kindred spirits.


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  17. Widdershins says:

    The difference being, I think, broadly speaking, is between people who call their animals, ‘pets’ and those who call them, ‘companions’. 🙂


  18. macjam47 says:

    Awww, Sue, what a sweet post! It is clear the affection runs both ways. 💕🤗💕


  19. Jennie says:

    The bond and communication runs deep. Love that Ani!


  20. As two of my dogs are getting old so fast now, I feel obliged to try and write as much about them as I can, to try and capture that strange and wonderful “thing” that makes them unique to us. Bonnie has good days and bad, I’m pretty sure Gibbs is losing his hearing but at least he can see … but El Duque is still bounding around the house, being our flying dog.


  21. Great story about Ani. I am not wondering about. On every image she looks so intelligent. She does not stay with you, for no reason.:-) MIchael


  22. Lovely post, Sue. I really enjoy reading about your relationship with Ani. She is like your child.


  23. willowdot21 says:

    There is nothing more special than a true, honest and loving relationship with an animal, especially a beautiful dog 💜


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