• Clarke Wallace


There is something we might take for granted. Our household pets have a sense of themselves that we don't know about or even realize they do.

Things have changed since we took it upon ourselves to birth two sets of German shepherds - eight each time, same mother - at home for a breeder. We bought a kid's pool and set it up in the back spare room.

It was a mind-boggling experience, holding these newborns when they came slip-sliding out of the back end of their mother.

This was two years ago. We had freed the mother, Coffee, age seven, out of what you might call bondage, to give her a home which she deserved after having produced God know how many litters.

Having been given the choice to choose one, we picked a little females, having always chosen males for some reason, who we named Rebelle. True to her name, she livens things up.

When I say 'trust your pets' I mean 'listen to them'. We watch how this mother and daughter react to each other. Rebelle often curls up close to her mom. Coffee sniffs her daughter to ensure she's okay.

What fascinates us is how they listen to us. Not snapped-out commands, but normal quiet talk.

I was reading the weekend Star and Globe newspapers when I noticed Rebelle couldn't settle down. She had already gone outside to do what dogs do, yet she was restless.

"Hey," I said to her, "why don't you just lie down over here by the couch." She looked at me from the other side of the solarium, wandered over and plunked herself down, resting her muzzle on the rug. She looked up as if to say, "How's that?

Author's comment: These are spoken more as suggestions. At night Roe will say to Coffee, 'why not you go down to bed'. She'll look at us, stretch front end first, then the back legs and off she goes, the little one trailing along behind her. It blows our minds!

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