How One Great Dane Plays A Waiting Game

You can tell by the absence of grey, that Jasper’s a much younger Great Dane in this photo than he is in many of the photographs of him that I’ve already posted in this blog.

He is in his signature pose: Looking Over The Fence.

Jasper’s got another thing that he does in the back yard where he’s not so easily seen. I watched him do this yesterday as my husband and son loaded up the Subaru for the drive to Connecticut for JF’s memorial service.

This thing that Jasper does is to wait for A. to come back.  It starts as he stands in the back yard taking note of the the bags getting tossed into the back of the car. Somehow, he knows that this activity is different than the usual leaving-in-the-morning-for-work activity.

What triggers his waiting behavior are the bags.  He knows that when bags come out and get packed, that his human is Going Someplace and He Is Not Going With Him.

Usually what happens is that Jasper gets taken out to Orchard Kennels to be boarded shortly after the bags come out.

Except that this time, that didn’t happen.

So,  Jasper stood in the back yard and watched as, a short time after the bags disappeared into the trunk of the car,  A. and my son got into the car and drove away.

And, at that precise moment in time,  Jasper began to wait for A. to come back.

Instead of checking out his favorite places in the yard when I let him outside, Jasper heads directly for the door leading into the garage,  puts his front paws up on the step just below the door frame, turns his head back so that he can see me, and slowly wags his tail.

When it’s time to go back inside, he’ll find a spot in the middle of the back yard where he’ll mulishly stand and stare at me.  He grudgingly comes inside if I walk to where he’s standing and offer him a bit of persuasion.  Live treats or small pieces of leftover steak or chicken seem to do the trick.

I think that dogs are as attuned to the nuances of absence as much as people are.  And, after watching Jasper over the past 24 hours,  I wonder if his coping mechanisms are all that different from  ours mine.

It’s clear to me that Jasper’s physical actions are fitting into the empty spaces created by A’s absence; that memory is exerting itself into this dog’s behavior. Memory, scent memory if that is easier for you to accept, has triggered this waiting game.

Knowing Jasper the way that I do, I suspect that he’ll wait forever.





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