One of the pleasures of pet ownership is always having someone to listen to your joys
or woes without judgment. If you were to be caught out sitting talking to yourself,
friends would probably question your sanity, but most people accept you having a
deep conversation with your pet.
We pet owners don't really expect Fido or Puss to answer back but it is nice to be able
to bounce a few ideas off them, whinge about the Boss, or even tell them our deepest
secrets without fear of them repeating them around the neighbourhood.
Many dogs and cats, and even birds, have "conversations" with their owners. Cats in
particular have a range of vocal sounds ranging from greetings to complaints. Many
cat owners believe that their cat clearly says "hello" when they arrive home as the
greeting meow is rather drawn out.
Dog owners will recognise the different barks their dog emits according to the
circumstances. A bark of greeting to someone known is clearly different to the bark
when a stranger is at the door.
While cats "chat" with their owners, dogs "converse" with their eyes, ears and tail,
even cocking their head to the side in apparent deep interest in the conversation. If
you think your dog isn't really listening to you just try dropping in a word like "biscuit"
or "walk" to check his attention!
Birds in nature sing to keep in contact with the rest of their flock and for this reason
are usually happy to chatter on to their owners, particular if the owner chatters back.
Animals learn by association and quickly link actions to words proving that they do
listen to us. If we reward the animal with an action as we use a word, the animal will
associate that word with whatever it was doing at the time. Count up the number of
words your dog "knows" and you will be surprised at the size of its vocabulary.
Owners often believe that their pet can read their mind and while the jury is still out on
the telepathic abilities of pets and owners, the truth often is that animals are such
close observers of their owners that they pick up on the tiniest cues. They observe us
much more closely than we often realise and notice the difference between our
weekend and our weekday clothes. Dogs often "know" just when we are going to pick
up the car keys, but in fact they may be observing that we glanced in the direction of
the place we keep the keyring.
However our pets communicate with us, it is apparent that they enjoy the time spent in
conversation with us just as much as we do.