The Secret Inner Life Of Dogs

We boarded Kasey while we were on our recent trip to Maine.  

We put her up in a really nice place, staffed by bubbly, outgoing  young women, where Kasey and the other canine guests all have their own reasonably roomy spaces with their own chairs, beds, and water and dog food bowls.  The spaces aren’t crates, but are more like little individual rooms that are open to the ceiling.  Kasey gets walked and fed regularly, the young dog-loving employees enthusiastically track her bowel movements in a daily report, and we even pay extra for special TLC time.  As dog boarding options go, it’s a nice one.

And yet when we return home after one of these trips to pick up Kasey, inevitably her bark has turned into more of a squeak and she seems utterly exhausted.  We should all wish to be able to experience the deep, total slumber that Kasey immediately falls into the instant we get home and she finds a sunny spot in the yard.  Either Kasey and her canine comrades are out partying until late at night, adopting the “what happens at the boarder stays at the boarder” mentality, or she just hasn’t slept much because she misses her special warm spot in the sun — and perhaps also misses Kish and me and the sense of security and routine that Kasey associates with us.

Most people tend to think of dogs as simple creatures, lacking much in the way of emotional complexity.  I think the reality is a lot more nuanced.  Outwardly, dogs might come across as panting, napping, pooping, bright-eyed simpletons, but down deep they may be a rich stew of angst whenever they’re taken from their comfort zones.  And when a pooch is a rescue dog, as Kasey was, you wonder if every boarding experience calls up unpleasant memories of the past.

Perhaps we’re projecting and feeling unnecessary guilt about our trips, and Kasey’s outward hoarseness and apparent fatigue are simply due to a stay in a place where dogs are barking a lot and it’s hard to sleep because there are lots of strange dogs, and strange dog smells, in every direction.  But what pet owner doesn’t like to think there’s a reservoir of deeper feelings lurking behind that doggy exterior?