It's not until I run across a dog that doesn't speak Human / English that I really appreciate how great Mabel Lou's communication skills are.
I've written about how Mabel makes her wishes known before, most recently here. But I still marvel at her almost daily.
A few weeks back, we were meeting a pack at the creek. Mabel and Barticus, who tear out of my car, are often 50 yards down their favorite trail before I'm out of the parking lot. If I take too long to catch up, Mabel will return to check on me. She was on her way back when she noticed me taking the other trail to meet up with our friends.
Mabel did a little dance, pointed with her nose to the trail I was on and shook her head once. Translation: Why are you on that trail? We always go this way!
"No, girl, we're going to the river. We're meeting friends for a long one!"
She started toward me, stopped, looked back up the trail Bart was on, and looked at me with her brow furrowed. Translation: What about Bart?
"He will figure it out or you can go and tell him."
Mabel turned, ran about 10 feet in Bart's direction, stopped and within seconds was running toward me. Bart was right behind her!
I simply adore that I understand her and I love that she tries so hard to make herself known. This comes in most handy when Bart gets lost off doing "Bart Stuff" as he often does. Whenever I think he's been too long, I look at Mabel and ask her, "Where's Bart?"
Mabel will point with her nose and...he's always right where she says.
If only, this worked the other way around! Sadly, little Barticus is not so adept at communication with humans! Last night, Mabel Lou scared the crap out me! She disappeared! For close to 40 minutes! She has not pulled a stunt like this since she was a pup! And Barticus was no help at all!
We were meeting up with the RottRover and her Bart last night. We all met up on the main trail and took all three pups to the water for swimmies. We were all most perturbed right away as a weirdo / homeless man was sitting right by Mabel's favorite cuzzi spot in his undies! (For those of you uncertain of the definitions of personalities at the creek, the glossary is HERE)
He claimed to have been panning for gold but his clothes were drying on the rocks - hence the multi-category. Mabel was annoyed, Barticus was scared and barking, and Bart the rott was... cautious. All three put together meant get the heck outta there. Since it was time for the RottRover to head home, I called the dogs and we headed to levee. Bart the rott joined us but my two kept swimming. I called them again and kept walking.
20 feet down the levee...still no Mabel or Barticus. I looked over to see if they are coming and... they were MIA! We called out to Mr. Undies and he pointed toward Rafi's camp. Rafi is a homeless man that Mabel and Barticus are both fond of and visit daily. Thinking they would visit for a minute and then come on up the levee, I wasn't worried. We kept going.
When we got to the end, I noticed that Barticus had joined us...only he was 20 feet back and turning his body sideways and wouldn't look me in the eye. Not seeing Mabel anywhere, Bart's strange behavior caused me to start worrying.
Barticus and I ran back down the levee, screaming for Mabel.
I stopped time and time again and asked Bart, "WHERE'S MABEL???" Nothing!
When I got near the end, I asked Mr. Undies again... again, he points toward Rafi's. I suddenly heard barking back over at my car. I knew full well that Mabel Lou goes to the car when we get separated. But I also knew she would back track to me if she were there. I felt like she might be there but I felt more strongly that I should investigate Rafi's area first.
We went there...no Mabel. We started up the hill to the shortcut trail and ...more strangers and weirdos...none of my regular pack. I'm was really starting stress as I had left my cell phone at home! Finally, a weirdo describes Mabel to me and pointed her out to me! She was running back from the car.
Bart and I ran to greet her and then I yelled at her for making me so worried and scared. Then I yelled at Bart for not telling me where she was! I wonder if Rosetta Stone makes tapes to teach Human English to dogs of Bart's IQ?