In my case, they’d probably say, “Spend more time with us! Play with us! Cuddle with us! Rub our bellies, please!”
Or better yet, “Where’s our treat?” and “Where have you been?”
They don’t really need words to be heard or to express themselves. As pet owners and parents, we only have to observe them, always be there for them, be vigilant, do right by them – and go from there. (Although a sentence or two might help when they’re sick and we don’t know what to do for them.)
The conversation might be different with shelter dogs, though, as we find out from Irene Choi, a senior volunteer at Uncle Khoe’s K9.
Uncle Khoe’s K9 (so named after its founder, Uncle Khoe) in Singapore looks after stray dogs and facilitates their adoption into forever homes.
“See how they behave and learn their body language – all of this takes time,” she says.
“With time and interaction, you can learn to understand them, and the dogs will show you a whole new world and speak through their eyes.”
Do these sound familiar?
#1 “We fuss over them too much.”
#2 “We don’t need much, but just need to be loved.”
#3 “Don’t be sad when we cross the rainbow bridge; it’s just a new phase of life where we are to explore new experiences.”
#4 “We may have had some bad experiences with humans before, but give us time and show us that we can depend on you and be loved by you.”
#5 “Some of us are introverts, and like humans we need time to open up to strangers.”
They’re what Irene has come to know and love from “communicating” with the dogs under Uncle Khoe’s K9.
There’s something to be thankful for every day
“As Uncle Khoe himself is quite elderly, we have stopped taking in new rescues and shifted our focus to the ones that are still under our care,” explains Irene.
“We want to provide the best care we can offer until they get a second chance with the right home or until they cross over the rainbow bridge.”
She adds that we can help Uncle Khoe’s K9 by sponsoring a dog, assisting them during events and volunteering, among others.
Her experiences as a shelter volunteer, and the lessons she’s learnt, are priceless. And the best part is, you can have them too.
#1 It has taught me compassion, and to care for and love the voiceless
“The public thinks that shelter dogs always come with emotional baggage, that they are unable to love and are not home-companion material. While some dogs do come with a past, there’s nothing love and effort and time can’t break through. Show them you are there to work things out with them, and you will see them blossom beautifully.”
#2 Time heals
“Over the years, we’ve crossed paths with dogs that are shy to human touch, and refuse to be leashed and see the outside world. But all they need is some coaxing, encouragement, love, trust, and a lot of patience. At the end of the day, when they take that first step to bond and step out of their comfort zone, that is when their true self starts to shine. And seeing them blossom is what’s truly rewarding for us.”
#3 The dogs inspire me to be the person they envision me to be
“The dogs have moulded me to become a better person. They teach me to be humble and patient. They teach me unconditional love. Most people will say that the dogs are lucky to have the team loving and caring for them, but I beg to differ – we are the lucky ones to have their love.”
#4 They have also taught me to slow down and appreciate every moment I spend with them
“They have changed how I see my life. The finer things in life no longer bring happiness and a smile to my face as much as when the shelter furkids sit down and paw you for attention.” 😊
We started with trying to figure out what our dogs are trying to tell us. But what happens when we really, really listen?
Photos courtesy of Uncle Khoe's K9