Saturday

Do they Remember?


Every night I have a routine, after working from catching up on paperwork and desk duties, I will settle down in my easy-chair.  Because it's a couch with a recliner, it's pretty comfortable for all of us, including the dogs.  Elaine has her own rocking chair, so the whole sofa is for the dogs and me.  Once I sit down, the procession starts.  Meggie goes to the opposite end, JoJo heads to the middle, and Whiskey hops up in my lap, and sometimes whoever else can fit it.

Meggie and Whiskey
Whiskey always has this thing where she stares at me when I stroke and rub her face.  She will lay on her back, and the stress vanishes form both of us, but especially me.  Most days are very stressful, with dogs looking for homes and needing care and surgeries going on.  The last three weeks have been externally stressful because of Stevie/Sadie and the broken leg from being kicked off the porch by her owner.  She had two significant surgeries to repair the problems, and hopefully, she is on her way to recovery without any nerve injuries, time will tell.

Sadie who is now named Stevie after her first surgery.
As I sit and stroke Whiskey's face, JoJo will put her head in what lap I have left, and I will rub both of their faces.  It seems with each rub, I am rubbing away all my problems and concerns for all of us.  I have to think about what Whiskey is thinking.  Is she happy and letting me know, is she trying to tell me to keep her safe, does she think about the dogs that were left behind?  Elaine is always thought that dogs can remember their past.  I have my doubts because some of the dogs we deal with would have problems for years from where they came from.  While I believe they can acclimate from most circumstances, and I do think they are pretty resilient.

Diving into this topic, I remember the first day each of my dogs came home to live with me because it was very poignant for me. But does my dogs remember when they met me for the first time? The short answer is, they probably don't. But that doesn't mean they don't remember me.  Dogs may have some type of episodic memory, or the ability to remember specific events in the past? A recent study suggests this is possible. However, the same study shows that there are real limits to that type of memory for dogs. So your dog isn't probably able to reflect back on your first moments together in the same way you do unless you're Dutchess who remembers everything and where the treats are.

JoJo in my lap watching TV before she settles in.
When the dogs are in my lap, it's peaceful for everyone except Elaine, who becomes the person who refills my drink and gets my slippers or comforter.  While she is very sympathetic about helping, I will say, "I've got dogs in my lap," and she understands and lovingly helps out. I don't know what it is, the dogs seem to gravitate to me and the couch even much more than the bed.  There is something magical for both the dogs and me when they put all their trust in me.  They totally relax, but then again, I rub their ears, stroke their body, rub their feet and toes and give them a deep massage.  Then again, I guess I would like it too.  Make no mistake, Dutchess knows where every snack is at, she is the Einstein of dogs in more ways than one.