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[Originally posted 8/16/2005]

Our little dog Scooter has no problem letting us know what he is thinking. I guess you could say we are pretty well trained to pick up on his verbal and non-verbal signs. The trick is consistency – he always uses the same technique and the identical language so there is no mystery about his intentions. We try to return the favor by using short phrases and keywords that he has come to recognize.

Here are some of the examples of our pet language:

– To go outside, Scooter rings the bell dangling from our back door.

– When he is hurt or stepped on inadvertently, he lets out a pained yelp that is truly distinctive.

– When Julie’s friends have to go home, he sits on top of the couch looking out the living room window and pitifully cries and moans.

– When he wants to be invited to hop up on the couch to watch sports with me, he sits there and stares at me with that special look of longing in his eyes until he hears those precious words, “Hop up!”

– When I open up a Cracker Jacks package he hustles over and opens up his mouth in expectation of receiving the first two morsels out of the bag.

– When his water or food bowl needs refilling, he stands at the back door as if he wants to go out, but refuses when we open the door – so we know to go to plan B.

– When he needs more petting (which is more often than not), he paws at you with his little front legs in demanding fashion.

– When he thinks it is time to play, he dashes downstairs and runs around like crazy asking to play fetch with his special toys.

– When he needs to be scratched on his tummy he nuzzles his head up against you very aggressively until you roll him over on his back and satisfy him.

– When he is out back within the safety of his fenced in kingdom, he barks ferociously at any dog that passes by.

– Whenever I show my youngest daughter any physical affection, he lets me know how jealous he is by trying to worm his way between us in order to re-establish his rightful position as the center of attention.

All of this communication with no schooling and very little tutelage. Scooter finds that expressing himself just comes naturally.