…but I liked this. For the dog lovers among us.

Stanley Coren, PhD, FRSC

“There is one sound that dogs make which I have not included in my discussion of Doggish vocalizations. I didn’t include it because it is an automatic sound, which probably was not intended by either evolution of the gods to be communication at all, but it has come to mean something to me. It is the sound of dogs breathing.

At night, when I lie down to sleep, my old dog Wiz lies on the bed beside me while Odin lies on a cedar chip pillow on the floor close by my head. Just across the room, my puppy, Dancer, who is not quite fully house-trained, sleeps in his wire kennel. In the quiet and the darkness, sounds are amplified. I can hear the low, slow breathing of the big black dog, the short breaths of the orange puppy, and the occasional sniffle and snore of the old white dog. As I listen to those soft sounds, I think of some earlier man, lying in a cave or rude shelter, resting on a bed of hides or straw. It was a hostile, dangerous world. Weapons were primitive, resources often sparse, and there were menacing things that moved in the night. That long-gone ancestor also had dogs who lay beside him as he tried to sleep. His dogs breathed these same sounds and these sounds had meaning. They were not merely part of the language of nature – they were the sounds of safety and comfort, a recitation of the dog’s eternal contract with humans.

“I am here with you,” the dog’s breath said. “We will face this life together. There is no beast or intruder that can steal up on you undetected because I am here, and I will be your eyes and ears. No harm will come to you because I am at your side to warn you, and to defend you if need be.

“We will hunt together tomorrow. We will herd together tomorrow. We will share sunshine tomorrow. We will explore this world together. We will play together, even though neither of us is any longer a child.

“If luck turns bad, then when you grieve, I will comfort you. You will never need to be alone again. I promise this. As your dog, I will sing this promise to you, and whisper it to you at night, every night, with my breath.”

I can hear these words in my dogs’ soft sounds of breathing, and just like my ancient ancestor, I understand these words and I am comforted. In my heart I know that if the language of dogs were so limited that this was the only message they could send, it would still be enough.”

How to Speak Dog