Our Dog Can Read · 9 May 2015

I would not be surprised if our dog could read. After all, she understands English and she knows what day of the week it is.

I know dogs are smart, but it seems ridiculous that our dog, Yukiko (a little West Highland White Terrier), seems to be able to read. At least the calendar. Each Saturday, she gets up with me earlier than everybody else and earlier than is her norm. She sits by me (or sometimes on my lap) as I read my Bible. And she gets impatient if I go past 8 a.m. That is Saturday breakfast time for her. I figure if I fed her any earlier, she would just want to wake up earlier and earlier and I would not get to sleep in a little on Saturdays. She would be scratching at her kennel wanting to get up too soon.

But getting up early on Saturdays is not the only thing she does to convince me she can read.

Of course, the other thing about Yukiko knowing when it is Saturday could be attributed to her nose. Certainly, we all know the power of the Schnauzer’s schnoz. Yukiko knows Saturday is pancake day. Most of the time. And even though she wants the delectable delights when she can smell them cooking on the griddle, I find it odd that she wants them even on the Saturdays when we do not cook them.

Sure, it could be that we have been having pancakes for breakfast on Saturdays for pretty much all of her life. And she has certainly been given her pancake on those days. But if dogs cannot at least read calendars, I wonder why Yuki wants those pancakes on Saturdays when we do not have any. I suppose there could be something to the seven-day cycle being an integral part of the universe, but I still think our dog can read.

Okay. Maybe she cannot read, but she is still plenty smart. And she is like the kids. Or at least like they used to be when they were younger wanting to stay up past their bedtime.

When it is time to go to bed, Yukiko asks if she can have a drink or go to the bathroom. Or both. She dilly dallies around thinking that she does not need to go up the stairs until we do. She makes sure that her routine is not changed and demands that she get her time to lie on the bed for at least a few minutes of snuggle time before going to her own bed. Yukiko is getting to be an old dog, but she seems to be up to kid tricks.

I know it is ludicrous, but I sometimes wonder what we would see if we could be a fly on the wall when nobody was home but the dog. (I suppose we could put a camera up, but that seems too Big Brotherly.) I can imagine her heading off to her favorite spots to sleep as everybody was heading toward the door. She likes to sleep in a storage tub in the front room closet or on top of the shoes all strewn about near the bottom of the stairs or with her head on the cool porcelain of the downstairs bathroom toilet, so I can see her lazily making her way to one of those spots. Some days, she might even be asleep already in one of those spots as the last person leaves.

But I have seen Yuki open just one eye when somebody nears her as she sleeps. She peers out from beneath her shaggy brow and sneaks a peek at what is going on around her. Sometimes, she just closes that single eye again. Sometimes, she gets up to join in whatever is happening. As everybody leaves in the morning, I can imagine that one eye opening and watching the door to ensure the last person is out.

When enough time has passed or when her morning nap is over, I can see Yukiko getting up, stretching, and going to the couch. Instead of taking another nap like we see her doing when we are home, I can see her putting her front paw on the TV controller and putting on a movie and relaxing until the clock shows that she ought to be taking her afternoon nap or at least looking like that is what she is doing when everybody comes home again.

I know it is just imagination, but I sometimes wonder if that really is what the dog does. After all, there are some strange shows in the Netflix watched category that I know I have not seen.

Our dog is certainly smart. Like most dogs, she understands or seems to understand human language. She is smart enough to delay her bed time. And she at least seems to know and understand the calendar. It may be ludicrous, but all these things make me think that our dog can read.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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