Ty is about 10 now. We adopted him as an adult so I'm not sure. He has lived with us for nine years or so. He is a great family dog. I'm very glad we got him.
Here is a picture (slightly old) of him sweltering in July heat, showing off his spotty tongue.
One thing about Ty: He communicates differently than many dogs I have owned. For example, If he wants to go outside, he won't go to the back door and scratch, whine or bark. He will come to me and give me a Pointed Look. Earlier in our relationship, I would get up and see where he led me (back door, front door, water bowl). Now, we have refined ao process, and we have a conversation as detailed below. I watch his ears for his response.
"Do you want to go to bed?" flat ears
"Do you want dinner?" flat ears
"Do you want to go out?" ears pop up
So I let him out.
Two way communication achieved without running around the house. Happy days.
Sometimes, I can't figure out the need and he follows me around, directing increasingly hurt Pointed Looks at me, sometimes getting anxious and clacking his teeth together (which drives me nuts). Himself figured out two more reasons for his Ponted Looks:
"A cat is in my bed again" (Ty has the premium spot by the heater and the cats frequently try to steal it -especially in winter. That a 15lb cat can bully a 72lb dog is proof that attitude will carry you a lot farther than pure muscle will)
"Thunderstorm coming. PROTECT ME!"
There may be some more we haven't figured out yet.
Ty has a different system of communication regarding walks with Himself, who walks him every night. If it is time for the walk, and Himself is showing no signs of movement, Ty will start to whine, huff and 'dance'. If that has no effect, he will find me and them whine and huff at me, directing Pointed Looks back in the direction of Himself. The message there is very clear:
Make him take me out
The first time we figured this one out (which was pretty much the first time Ty did it), Himself commented that Ty knows exactly who is in charge around here. I should have gotten that in writing, now that I think of it.
So why am I telling you all of this? It is because communication has been on my mind a lot recently. I have been reading a blogger who started up around the time I was winding down. His name is Single Dad and he has a now-adult daughter who is very severely disabled
And she has no communication whatsoever. None. Single Dad gauges her mood by her laughter or tears.
it is very hard for me to get my head around this. I have a dog who answers questions with his ears and a cat who will stick exactly one claw into my ass if he feels the need for attention (yes, I have tried to discourage this, but if he wants attention and my back is turned, in the claw goes). Them's not words, but it's definitely communication. We forget how far communication can carry, even if one party is without spoken language.
I can't imagine caring for a child who cannot tell you if she is hungry, thirsty or in pain. Yes, I remember the early days when Joe couldn't speak meaningfully at all. But we could tell certain stuff from his behaviour or gestures. And he had this scream. God Almighty! You could literally feel your earwax vibrating and every dog for blocks probably ran for cover. It was horrible but it got a point across; although which particular point that might be, we could only speculate based on circumstances.
Single Dad, and the parents of other children similarly 'locked in" are not often discussed. You sometimes hear of people who are born unable to communicate, who somehow manage to find their voices. Two Irish Christys come to mind: Christy Brown and Christy Nolan. Both discovered a means to communicate; one learned to control and write with his left foot, the other learned to type using a stick attached to his head, and with his mother supporting the weight of his head in her cradled hands.
In each case, the family were amazed at the thoughts, words and insights that emerged from their formerly-mute son.
Two success stories. I'm sure there are more.
But what of the others, those who have thoughts and no way to express them? Surely there must be technology that can help them?
I mean, there is a game available that one can control with one's mind.
It has been around for about two tears now. Surely, if the technology is available to do that, there must be research and development ongoing to help severely disabled kids?
Mustn't there? I think there must be, but I don't know who to ask.
I asked the dog, but his ears stayed flat.