Our daugher’s dog, Nika, has been staying with us since early June, when Megan got her cast for a broken ankle. Since she wasn’t allowed to put any weight on her foot, she was using a knee scooter and it just seemed easier to bring Nika to our house, which delighted Noah, of course. This is the longest time they have been together since Megan adopted Nika in 2011, when she lived with us for about six months and Noah presumably taught her everything he knew about being a dog and living with the MacGregors.
They have a distinct language in their barks and what we think of as words seem to be expressed in the tone, texture, speed, and pitch of the barks. For instance, when both dogs get a marrow bone, Nika immediately takes hers elsewhere in the house or outside, where she hides it. There’s deliberate intent about her actions and Noah’s reactions that suggest neither of them live entirely in the moment, as I thought for years. Dogs, cats, and other animals plan, project, remember.
After Nika has hidden her bone, she then trots back into the house and barks at Noah, a certain bark that is the same every time and seems to translate as, Dude, share your bone, okay? Most of the time, Nika ends up working away at two marrow bones because Noah has given her his.
They also have games that are like competitions. This one seemed to be about who could dig the deepest hole and bury the Frisbee under mounds of dirt so the other can’t find it. Each day at the dog park, the hole got deeper.
Then there’s the game about who gets the Frisbee or the ball. Nika looks fierce in this photo, like she’s about to bite Noah’s nose off, but it’s mostly bluster.
Every day around 4 PM, we take the dogs to our dog park. And they know when it’s time. If we’re a few minutes late, both dogs start pacing, barking, run back and forth to the door. They spend a few minutes sniffing butts with other dogs, but generally trot off together to hunt for squirrels, happy to be together.
During many of these afternoons at the park, I follow them around at a distance, curious about what intrigues them – a particular scent, a bird, squirrel, ball, Frisbee, a hole. At these times, they really are completely immersed in the moment – a sensory moment that pulls them in completely.
Their memories of other dogs and people are astounding and it’s not just the smell of either one, but the voice (human or canine), the movement, the presence. The other dog or human may not have been around for months, but the recognition happens regardless. Hey, there, where’ve you been? What’s up? What’s going on?
They also recognize places. On occasions when we have visited Megan and the car pulls to a stop at her cub, Noah leaps out of the open window to greet Nika before she comes racing out the front door. When Nika visits us after a long hiatus and we pull into the dog park, she whines and barks, her excitement so palpable it’s obvious she knows where she is and can’t wait to get out and run.
On one occasion, after Nika had visited and left, Noah sank into what can only be called a depression; he didn’t eat for 3 days.
It feels like these two have known each other in past lives, that they are soul mates, and perhaps that’s the synchronicity, that they would meet again through us. Both are rescues. Accuse me of anthropomorphism, but hey, there is great love here. You can feel it when you’re with them. And at the end of the day, Nika and Noah are rarely very far apart.