“Stop yelling at me with those eyes”, I heard myself say the other day. Strange, yet that’s exactly what it feels like when Max starts one of his “rants”.
Max is our six year old Shih Tzu, who is loved by everyone who meets him. One of his most endearing qualities is his ability to talk with his eyes. He’s got it down to a science and rarely barks to get a point across. Sometimes I feel like I get a glimpse into the “silent conversations” dogs must have between each other. (Dog owners know what I’m talking about — after the dogs sniff in all the “right” places.) Even when we get visitors, human or canine, he rarely barks. It’s a terrific quality, really — who likes a little dog yapping away every time someone visits?
One thing that probably contributes to his lack of barking is that he has a unique way of telling us what he wants/needs. To go outside, he hits a bell that hangs on the sliding door handle. It’s a neat trick that our vet recommended, when he was a puppy, and it’s pretty easy to teach. When he wants to play, he runs in circles and brings you a toy. (Of course, he doesn’t usually let it go.) Like many dogs, he loves a good massage and scratching and will contort into any position to give you access to all the best spots. Also, if you’re busy, he sighs and wanders off in search of a strewn blanket to nap on.
When he’s hungry or thirsty, he doesn’t go to one of the kids, even if they are the ones who feed him. He comes to ME and silently “tattle-tales”. I just call out to one of my kids, “Did you feed him?” and his tail goes into windshield wiper mode. Then, he goes directly to the pantry, where we keep his dog food. It’s interesting how quickly he learned that if he wants something, he needs to go to mom first.
Recently, Max’s eyes went into full action because – yikes – the handle on the door was broken and the bell was — gone! At first, it didn’t occur to me that he was “yelling” at me because he needed to go outside. I’d been so accustomed to the bell-ringing for his outside needs. He’d already eaten and his water bowl was full. When his staring didn’t work on me, he started in on my husband and then alternated between us. “What?” Finally, it dawned on me that the bell was not there and when I asked him if he needed to go outside, it was as if he screamed “BINGO” – with his eyes, of course.
I’m considering writing a picture book about him — what do you think?