My Dear Pooh Dog and Me
The Bonding

After returning to the States from a year of post-graduate studies at the U. of Edinburgh, Scotland, the first thing that I did was to get a job. However, of equal importance, I got Ginger, an Irish Setter puppy. To say that I loved Ginger is an understatement. We were constant companions. We bonded for over a dozen years and had fun together. She died in her early teens, which was one of the very worst days of my life.

At the other end of my life, in my twilight years, I got another Irish Setter puppy, and her name is Ginger. I’m 76 today and Ginger II came into my life two years ago. You can do the math. I’ll be in my mid- to late 80s before Ginger II dies. Of course, that assumes that I will live another decade, since I already danced with death. What’s with my desire to relive the past especially at my age? Don’t ask me. If I knew, I would write about it.

However, my relationship with Ginger II is different than my first Ginger. I ponder about my present Pooh Dog then I did when I was young. I spend far more time attempting to read Ginger II than I did with her predecessor. I wonder what she is thinking.

I hate having to leave her at home when I have to go shopping. I don’t say anything about having to go out until I am ready to do so. However, she senses through my various activities that differ from our normal routinized days together. I wonder if combing my hair before leaving indicates that I will be going out without her. Whatever it is, she will stay far away from our bedroom where she is kept while I am out. If she was guessing that I might leave home, my calling her to come to me is the final assurance that I would be gone for several hours. That separation bothers both of us. What she does while in our bedroom to deal with her separation anxiety is to lay on my pillow. It is the way she remembers me. We do that with photos of people that we miss.

I also wonder about what she thinks when I kiss Ginger on the top of her head and tell her that I love her. She will look at me and stare for a moment seemingly not knowing what to do. Then she will swallow hard or will lick her mouth like she had just had a delicious meal.

What is she thinking? She associates my kissing as affection. It doesn’t make sense that swallowing or licking is her way of reciprocating.

It is interesting that human beings had the same ancestor as the great apes, bonobos, chimpanzees, and gorillas. There is no link to dogs. What is fascinating to me is that dogs understand and interact with humans far more than any of the great apes. They learn faster, respond to commands, and display human like responses like love and affection more than any of the various groups of monkeys.

It has always fascinated me that John Locke believed that humans were born with brains that were tabula rasas or blank slates. All that anyone had to do was to observe the behavior of humans and dogs to see that we were both born with vast amounts of DNA, which will determine our actions and behavior from the moment of birth.

Ginger and I live on a lake and will circumnavigate it early in the morning. Whenever she sees a bird or a flock of geese sunning themselves on the land around the lake, she will instinctively point to the birds. She won’t move…she merely motionlessly points. However, she will look to me to see if I will give her the command to “Go.” As soon as the command is given, off Ginger goes like a dog with a mission. Locke surely saw that with dogs in England. All creatures are born with a great deal written on their tabula rasas.

Well, it is time for our walk…a time to bond. “Ginger, do you want to go for a walk?”

This is an interesting video about what dogs and other animals think.