If Dogs Could Speak

Some of you know that I have two dogs… two basenjis that are almost eleven years old.

My girl and boy 2011

One is a high-strung, demanding and incredibly smart little girl. She is a purebred basenji from a champion line that spans back to Africa.

The other is a mellow, fearful boy, who is as loyal as they get, and wary of strangers. I adopted him as an eight-month old and I am unsure of his breeding. I think he may actually be part something else.

I was sitting on my bed the other day when I noticed my boy yelping every time he tried to move or adjust his position. It broke my heart, because I could not figure out the source of his pain. I realized then how helpless we are as pet owners, because our pups can’t speak. It’s like that with babies too. All they can do is cry and show their discomfort. And as a dog owner or mother, you feel completely debilitated because you don’t know 1) what is wrong with them 2) is this something serious? 3) what can I do to help them?


Since dogs can’t speak, here’s what I’ve relied on to get me through those times of uncertainty.

1) Touch – if it is internal/external, joint-related etc. Gentle prodding can help you identify the source of pain.

2) Observe – I was able to articulate to the vet the symptoms I had noticed in my boy by observing him. I also noticed that he still had an appetite and was drinking water, so that ruled out anything digestive. I started to observe his back feet were wobbly/and lagging… something it turns out, called ataxia.

3) Wait – I really rely on my gut for this one. Most of the time, I will wait a day before I take my animal into a vet’s office because whatever it is will have resolved itself within a day or so. He was whimpering inconsistently, and my gut was saying that while he was in pain, it was potentially temporary.

4) Call the vet/take them in– when he wasn’t better after 24 hours, I began to worry and opted to take him in. I also relied on my gut for this one. Don’t take your gut for granted!


Many of these steps include going with your gut and intuition because I really think that is the only way to ‘speak’ with your animal. Just feeling their energy- if something is off, not right, or telling you to take them into the vet.

It turns out my little boy has a slipped disc from either an injury of some sort, a tumor, or a spinal clot. He’s not allowed to jump on/off anything, and is now on meds, so he seems more comfortable. The girldog and I have adjusted to his plight and I am sitting on the floor now so he can join me via his dogbed.

My Boy, 2010

The vet said that he could get better, or there is a chance he could become permanently paralyzed. I am thinking about him constantly and hoping for the best. I am so appreciative of happy, healthy pets, and adore my two, it is tough to see them when they are not that way. Please think good thoughts for the little man, and a speedy recovery!


5 thoughts on “If Dogs Could Speak

  1. Very good thoughts and a speedy recovery! What a great blog and soooo true! Pets are like babies in that you just don’t know, but they are just as important as us humans and deserve all of our love and attention:0 I hope your little guy gets better and that he can still take his little walks:0 Great seeing you Sat. Thanks for coming!

  2. Definitely thinking good thoughts for that beautiful boy. They have such expressive faces… problem is we don’t always know what they’re expressing!

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