What I Talk About When I Talk to My Dog

We talk about his bucket list, for one. And we talk about our plans for the day -- and he's good to sing to!


Dogs are our confidants. With purpose and sometimes without intent, we tell our dogs things that would almost never be uttered to another human being (at least not to their faces). We also tell them mundane things — anything and everything, actually. So why do we do it? Do we believe our pets get what we say?

For me, it’s a little of both. I’m willing to confess to things if you are. Here are a few areas in which I always find myself talking to my dog:

When I’m thinking through my schedule

“Mommy has to go get groceries and then run to pick up her dry cleaning and she’ll be right back.” How many of you can relate to saying things of that sort to your dog? Or how about, “Let me just check Facebook and tweet a few things out and then we’ll play, okay?” Nod in agreement if you bargain your time with Fido.

When I’m just rambling

As far back as I can remember, those I cohabit with have asked me now and again, “Who are you talking to?” I have a (bad) habit of talking to myself. Years of writing and a career from a home-based office lend themselves well to the occasional muttering and reading out loud.

With a four-legged, 24/7 listener at my feet, I finally have an answer to their querying of my mental status. “The dog — that’s who I’m talking to.” That tends to silence the peanut gallery.

When I’m venting

“Don’t ever become a human. People can be mean.” After a bad day or an annoying phone call, who better to understand than our canine life partners?

I’ve been annoyed on the phone, and immediately upon hanging up, a few choice words dangle in the air. In mixed company, these things would never be spoken. It doesn’t matter, though, with Fido at my feet: What happens in Fido’s earshot stays in Fido’s earshot.

I feel more at ease in what I say around my dog than I do most people. True, he won’t and can’t talk, but even if he could, the spirit and loyalty of a dog convinces me there are some secrets he will take to his grave. Is it any wonder that we share so much of who we really are when no one, save Fido, is looking (or listening)?

When I’m singing

I sing to my heart’s content when I am alone, and I know Dexter will not pass Simon Cowell-esque judgment. I can even use a hair brush as a microphone and never get more than a heavy sigh (usually because I woke him up from a nap).

Most of us sing in the shower, but I sing with more ardent fervor in the car and around the house when I know Dexter is a captive audience.

And let’s not forget his bucket list

I have a bucket list for both myself and for my dog. Having loved and lost a dog, I realize the short span of time we have with these precious beings. The acronym-of-the-moment YOLO (you only live once) resonates.

I started a bucket list for my dog, and I tell him things we’ll do together. My Dexter already lives carefree and in the moment, so what exactly is on his list? I broke it up into categories — physical, mental, emotional, and frivolous — and I talk to him about all of them.

For instance, for the mental category, I share some of the fun games and activities we’ll be doing together. In the emotional category, I talk about things that allow Dex to channel his inner puppy (like me taking a day or an hour off to run around the park with him).

Frivolous things include trips to the pet supply store together, and my now-famous “mommy and me” night, where my boy and I spend an evening out on our own, just exploring and enjoying.

Beyond this, my dog knows things that I don’t even say aloud. When the GPS tells me I’ll be “arriving at destination in 0.4 miles, on left,” he starts to whine and shakes his little tush in the car. He also knows when I am upset, even when I don’t say so.

Dogs speak with their hearts. Whether anything I say makes actual sense is up for debate. But I know he’s listening, which puts him in a category all of his own.

How about you? Do you talk to your dog? What sort of things are you saying?

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