Not a Giver, My Dog

There are a lot of things happening outside this little page. Good things, primarily good things. But, as with any big changes, there is stress. And worry. And fear. There is a lot to do and a lot to think about. There is a new schedule now, a new list of priorities. It’s going to take me some time to adjust. Do not be concerned, adjust I will, but time is not something I have in spades.

Many people talk about how their dogs can sense their feelings. When they are sick or upset, their dogs seem to understand this and go out of their way to offer comfort. While I do not disbelieve this, I have never experienced it myself. Shiva is not the sensitive, self-sacrificing types. No matter how I am feeling – even if I am hacking up a lung – in her mind, her needs come first. It’s cool. I’ve never considered it her job to fix my problems. That’s why she surprised me yesterday by just chilling out with me on the couch all afternoon.

I’ve mentioned before how Shiva hates touching or being touched while she’s asleep. Yet yesterday, she snuggled down behind my legs and showed no signs of discomfort. She would have stayed there for hours had my knee not cramped up. It was strange. Contrary to popular opinion, Shiva does have her lazy days, but she was taking it to a new level. Lazy and cuddly? Those two words have never described her before. It made me wonder.

Perhaps we were connecting on a new level, I thought. Perhaps she sensed my nervousness and slight anxiety. Perhaps Shiva knew I needed a puppy in my lap to remind me that everything is going to be okay. It was sweet. I will admit, it did help. I did feel a little better.

Shiva was equally subdued this morning. She stayed by my side in the forest, even though she was free to run and sniff as she pleased. When I clipped the leash back on she seemed content. There was no tugging to eat dirt, no insisting on one last sniff of each bush. Again, it was strange. Was my wacky dog finally maturing? Maybe she understood me far more that I understood her. Maybe she was giving me a break.


Or maybe she was sick all over the sidewalk just as we turned back down our street. How is that for humbling? So much for an other-worldly connection.


33 thoughts on “Not a Giver, My Dog

  1. I’ve never been one of those “dogs give unconditional love” kinda gals. What I enjoy about dogs is that they’re exactly as opportunistic as humans. I think that’s the real reason our species are so bonded.

    Like with people, when you’re in synch with someone, it’s probably best to just enjoy it and to not dig too deep. Why analyze a blessing?

    I’m glad you and Shiva had a great day together and that she was a comfort to you. Good luck in navigating the things going on in your life.


  2. My dog always sensed our feelings… If we were stressed, she seemed stressed. If we were sad, she seemed sad. When I would cry, she would always snuggle up with me and kiss my tears away…..


  3. I had one dog who I thought really understood my feelings.

    Oreo, on the other hand, is quite self absorbed. And sometimes, that “mom, play with me! Mom, come on, let’s go OUTSIDE!”, is all I need to change whatever mood I’m in…..Hmmmm…maybe Oreo isn’t so self absorbed, he just knows how to kick me into gear.


  4. I agree with you. I’ve never had a dog that goes out of its way to offer me comfort and cuddles and that sits with me through my darkest hours. No sir.

    And I agree with Pamela. I think dogs are very opportunistic and manipulative! If it’s dinner time, they will sit and stare sadly at me or be really cooey so I feel bad about watching TV and instantly get up to prepare their food :p

    Dogs are SMART.

    Your plans sound interesting and exciting. Good luck with them! xox

    I hope Shiva isn’t too sick?


  5. I always think Laura knew me very well, she would come and sit beside me while I was upset. She just sat there and stare at me as if she understood how I felt. Mika is a bit on his own but I think Eva does the same thing as Laura did. Although she is still young and playful, she actually can sit by me and does nothing if she senses I am not so okay.
    It’s so strange but I like to have them around me no matter how I feel that day.


  6. I think the unconditional love/sensing our moods myths are dangerous because they set people up to have unrealistic expectations of their dogs who, as Pamela and Georgia pointed out, are as opportunistic as we are.

    It’s been my experience that I stress Frankie out when I’m stressed out; he exacerbates my tension when I’m running around trying to find something, say, by following me anxiously. The only thing that I can do to break the cycle is sit down and take a deep breath — which is a good idea, so in that “make it stop” way he has a calming effect. As for Frankie soothing me in any other way…fuggedaboudit!


  7. I have my money on Shiva sensing your anxiety. Gus can always tell when we’re upset/worried and although it might be because he wants us to turn our attention to him instead, he always seems to sense it.

    Best of luck…sounds like exciting (?) things are in store!


  8. Hope everything is okay! Whatever it is, I’m sure you can totally handle it and will rock!

    I think my Chai can sense when I’m sad a little TOO much. In fact, she tends to think I might be sad at any second, preparing herself to smash her entire body into my side just in case I need a snuggle. It’s cute, but sometimes, like when I’m in the bathroom, it’s not so cute.

    Oh, dogs.


  9. LOL! Well, puke notwithstanding, I see two positives here. 1) At least you did get to spend almost the whole of the previous day cuddling your dog. 2) At least she was nice enough to puke before she got back in the house.

    Hope she’s feeling better, and that whatever winds of change are blowing in your life are blowing you in a positive direction.


  10. awww your dog shows how much she loves you in her own special way. I’ve had dogs who are very sensitive, but Kelly is more like Shiva–she knows her needs are first! But when I came home from the hospital recently, she curled up with me and knew to be gentle and warm.


  11. Oh, poor Shiva! With Lucas, anytime he gets really cuddly, I just assume he’s getting sick and wait for him to barf! I guess he just has an independent personality, like Shiva. I hope she feels better!!


  12. Oh this made me laugh.

    I feel you on this–my sisters cats are cuddly and friendly, and C’s cat is a snob. She has started to sit by us and meow loudly if we are really stressed together, though.

    I think it’s sweet that she wanted you when she was sick.


  13. My first dog here in MO, Oliver, was very sensitive. My mom made me adopt him after a cancer surgery, convinced the cats and horses were not enough. He lay with me as I recovered, waited patiently through other surgeries. He loved the horses – well, he loved the manure :).
    Yesterday, I came home from work. I felt bad, I was completely exhausted in body and spirit and I sobbed….a lot, with gut wrenching feeling. I had not done this for a long, long time. The pack, God bless them, were not demanding. I think they were shocked. They hung around me, though, waiting as I let everything out and petted them at the same time – when I could. I couldn’t talk but they were ok – we went outside, I put them up for breakfast and went to bed. Mostly better today :).
    Change is always hard. Sometimes, just deciding to change is harder. I think Shiva senses your changes and plans at a subliminal level – I hope the barf wasn’t an opinion – HA.
    Didn’t notice your descriptor change till I read georgia little pea’s comment – I agree. Have a great week.


  14. Aww, I was all excited about you and Shiva having this new deep, emotional connection and that she could sense your feelings…until you said she was sick on the sidewalk at the end there! I keep getting excited that maybe Riley’s maturing…but then the next day she’ll be back to her old bad self. Sigh. I feel ya!


  15. I lived with an incredibly irritating dog in Holland. He/she wasn’t mine (I can’t even remember his/her gender… let’s go with male), he was my roommates. That dog drove me nuts. He would bark and bark and bark and yap and pee all over everything all the time.

    Then one day I found out my friend was sick and I sat down on the couch and cried.

    And that ridiculous little dog jumped up on the couch and sat right beside me as my tears fell.

    I decided that dog wasn’t so bad after that 🙂


  16. Ryker only likes to cuddle when he is tired after some good play or after a bath because he gets stressed out.
    Maybe she is maturing and you will get more snuggle time in the future with out the puking!
    I did have a cat that was very tuned into my feelings. I lost him a year and a half ago and miss him very much.


  17. I know my mood definatly effects Charlie… He doesn’t try to make me feel better on purpose though (I’m sure) he’s just goofy and usually makes me laugh.

    However, if you sneeze he will be by your side to offer kisses before anybody can say “Bless you!”


  18. Okay, I’m laughing because my first thought as I started reading through the post was “maybe Shiva is getting sick.” But, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a turning point for you. One of my dogs got sick and after I took care of him for a couple of days, we did have a different relationship. You never know where those twists and turns will come from!


  19. Well, in my pawsonal opinion, it’s our job to makes humans feel better AND to keep them from letting their heads get too big. Good job, Shiva. BUT I do think it’s awfully nice – and tells you lots about how Shiva feels about you – that she didn’t feel good and wanted to be near you like that. That’s pretty nifty, huh?

    Wiggles & Wags,


  20. I wonder if it’s a girl dog thing? Miss M is my first girl dog, but I know girls are supposed to like everybody, and not just be into one person. So Miss M will be like that for awhile, until the next, better, person comes around. I’ve heard boy dogs just are really into one person, and that’s how Mr. B is with E.


  21. She wasn’t feeling good and she came to you. Some dogs isolate when they don’t feel good. That has to be some comfort.

    Depending on the mood some of my dogs are in, they get as far away from me as possilbe if I’m crying, while other days they will cling to me. They all play a different role even at one moment, but wherever they are they are there.

    The relationship that you have with Shiva is yours. Different dogs bond and show emotions differently. Embrace what you have with her for it is very special.


  22. There was actually a study done (I’m trying to remember where I read it) that showed how dogs had to be manipulative and opportunistic to survive in man’s world. They adapted these skills over time.

    I agree with Pamela for the most part, but I have had a dog that was very sensitive to my needs and always seemed to sense when I needed her, so I think there are the unusual few that have that special ability.

    I think Shiva and you had a great day. She probably did sense something in you, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be opportunistic! And, maybe she’s bonding with you more than you expected – thus allowing herself to be touched.


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