real life

"My dog knows I don't love him"


A few months ago I revealed my guilty secret on Mamamia – that I don’t love our family dog, Tiger as I should.

I like him well enough, I feed him, exercise him, put million dollar anti-tick serum on him. All that. We just haven’t clicked on an emotional level.

Anyway, the ensuing discussion was, well – robust. And it extended beyond Mamamia. I found myself on Brisbane radio station 97.3FM talking to my friend Robin Bailey about my loveless relationship with the dog. Robin suggested we get Tiger’s side of the story. I reminded her that he’s a dog and an interview would make very dull radio. No worries, Robin knows an ‘Animal Communicator’ who would be happy to come to my home and talk to Tiger – find out how he’s feeling about life. Sure, I said, as long as it won’t cost me anything.

Now, I’ll just point out here that Isobel Johnstone is no quack. A qualified vet, she recently gave up clinical work to ‘help animals in a more meaningful way.’ Isobel helps people understand their pets – what’s stressing them, making them difficult to live with. A lot of her work, she told me, is helping new owners of rescued animals  get a handle on what their pet might have been through. Tiger hasn’t been through anything more stressful than a hydrobath so I was a bit skeptical of what Isobel could do for our relationship.

The session worked thusly: Isobel and Robin arrived at my place. Tiger immediately disappeared upstairs. Isobel said that was not a problem – she does not need to see the dog as she talks to him. It is all done telepathically. Right.

So there we were on the couch – Robin reading the paper, me tweeting on the iPad, and Isobel making copious notes about her silent conversation with the dog who was no doubt fast asleep on the tiles in my ensuite. The ‘interview’ took about 30 minutes. Here is an edited transcript as provided to me by Isobel:

Isobel: Kate would like to know why you are so clingy and is it because she makes you sleep outside?

Tiger: No, I have a need for close companionship, it is nothing to do with being shut out. I have got over that.  It is just me; I want to be close to people. They are my family; my pack and we are together so much so that when they are not here I get anxious.

Isobel:  Kate wants to know if you would be happier with another dog.

Tiger: Yes, yes, yes! So long as I get to help choose it. It would have to get along with me, then we would be friends and I would not be so lonely when left alone.

Isobel: Whatever the family does you seem to want to do something else. Kate wants to know why.

Tiger:  It is my mind, it wanders and I get to think of lots of things and just suddenly want to do something, maybe not what they were thinking I would like to do. I seize the moment and if something comes into my mind I go for it and don’t necessarily stay with what we are doing now.

Isobel: Kate would like to know why you do not seem really happy?

Tiger: I am happy, happy, happy!  Don’t judge me by what they think I should be like, I am happy in my own way.

Isobel: Kate says they you seem to be never satisfied in the moment.

Tiger : My mind leaps from one thing to another and whatever takes my fancy I follow. I did not know that this bothered them.  As I get older and settled in my ways.

Isobel: Do you realise that Kate is not as fond of you as the rest of the family?

Tiger: Yes, I realise that and it saddens me but we get along.  Really I came here for the daughter, the young girl I am close to.  It is important for her to have me in her life at this time. She will confide in me her thoughts and things she would rather keep to herself, just things that young children want to keep to themselves but need to tell somebody their inner secrets without being abandoned by them then telling the secrets.  I am here for that.  One day she will not need me as much, that is all right.

Isobel: Kate would like to know if you have a favourite member of the family?

Tiger:  I love all the family members including Kate.  Tell her not to worry, as she is not meant to be close to me, her daughter is.  I enjoy her company, we get on well but it does not matter that we do not have a close rapport.  You are not meant to be very close to everyone, just those that it is your job to be close to and I know what my job is and I do it well.

Isobel: What is the one thing Kate could do for you to be more settled, she says you seem skittish?

Tiger:  As I said, that is just me, don’t worry. I am young don’t expect me to settle down for a while yet; there is plenty of time for that. Just take me as I am and don’t worry.  Kate worries too much as underneath she is very concerned that she does not love me as she thinks she should.  That is her expectation of herself, not mine.  We really have a very happy family and I love being here.

Isobel:  Tiger is there anything you would like to say to Kate?

Tiger:  I just want them all to know now much I love them all.

Well. That was certainly nice to hear. Not sure I believe it but it sure didn’t hurt.

Do you think your pet understands you?  Can animals communicate with people at all?

Kate Hunter is an advertising copywriter with 20 years experience and hundreds of ads under her belt. She’s also written two novels for young readers: Mosquito Advertising, The Parfizz Pitch and Mosquito Advertising, The Blade Brief. You can visit Kate’s website here or follow her on twitter here.