How annoying that just when I’m in the mood to write today about reading books to your dog I can’t find my dogeared copy of Kinship With All Life by J. Allen Boone, (subtitle: Simple, Challenging, Real-Life Experiences Showing How Animals Communicate with Each Other and with the People Who Understand Them.)
I will have to come back to the exact quote I wanted to share later. From memory, Boone talks about Strongheart, the famous German Shepherd from silent movies, a dog of extreme intelligence who LOVED being read to.
His owner/wrangler Lawrence Trimble discovered that Strongheart had a passion for reading books. So between scenes and at home Trimble would read stories to the magnificent dog. But the kicker here is he makes the point of saying they were not just any stories – they had to be highfallutin works and apparently Shakespeare was a particular favorite of Strongheart’s.
As I was reading this years ago I was thinking yes, I can see it would be the stories, the rhythm of the words, and this was clearly a dog who reveled in learning but did his enjoyment also come from the simple gesture of his person sitting down with him and *sharing* something quietly?
That the being-read-to was also about feeling connected? That for this exclusive, separate time, Strongheart was not expected to perform, do tricks, generally do as he was asked but simply “be” with his person knowing his person was concentrating on him and his enjoyment?
Until I’ve found my copy of Kinship With All Life let me share a quote from Helen Keller (also a German Shepherd owner):
The charming relations I have had with a long succession of dogs result from their happy spontaneity. Usually they are quick to discover that I cannot see or hear. Truly, as companions, friends, equals in opportunities of self-expression, they unfold to me the dignity of creation.