Dog Ruminations (or Chewing Things Over)

The Miscellanea of Living with Dogs

Dogs are not ruminants, that is they do not ruminate because they do not have a rumen in their stomachs. Without a rumen, their food (the plant kind) does not  ferment and then regurgitate into their mouths for further processing the way a cow’s  or a goat’s does , for example. The word “ruminate” comes from the Latin word ruminare meaning “to chew over again”.

The meaning of rumination for humans is quite different, though we would do better to chew our food more thoroughly the first time. I have been ruminating about the way dogs think – or don’t think. When I watch them, I get a sense that there is something going on inside their heads at least once in a while.

For instance, I think that dogs don’t really care about birthdays. They just want the food and the excitement. Any day will do. I’ve pretty much adopted that attitude myself over the years. That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate them. Any excuse for a party. That’s what most dogs would say.

I do think that dogs wonder at times how we humans move through the world. At least that is the look they have on their faces. “How do they do it? They seem to know where they are going.”  If only they realized how wrong they are and how clueless we are. No, better for them not to know.

What are dogs thinking about when they stare into space and nothing else is going on? Are they daydreaming? Or are they trying to figure out what that weird thing is that is sitting on the piano?

How do dogs measure productivity? Just by doing what they are asked to do? When they save someone, do they respond, “I have simply done my duty.” Probably. That is the attitude we are to have as well.

“…when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”  Luke 17:10 KJV

I hear the news, public or personal, and I stare into a puppy’s tiny eyes, and realize that they will never understand any of what is going on and I am happy for them. Their world is focused on us and on one moment at a time. And on food and toys and games, of course.

When I am tense, they sense my tension. I wish I were strong enough not to share it with them or anyone else. So. I play calming dog music, recorded at the right decibel and rhythm to calm dogs. It may be working. I feel a little calmer already.


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