Have Dog, Will Travel

As far as interacting with others went, almost everyone we met was happy to see Moe.  We ran into one lady at the Houston airport who kind of snarkily insisted that we put him back in his bag (in Kansas City it had been fine to let him stretch), but otherwise dog lovers all the way. 

And I was so proud of Moe on the planes!  More than once we had people who had been sitting near us the entire flight stand up at the end and incredulously ask, "Do you have a dog in there?"  One lady laughed that he was better behaved than her kids had been. 

To be fair, we did get a low dose of acepromazine from our vet to help take the edge off.  It worked perfectly--it made him all sweet and cuddly and sleepy, but not so out of it that I had to worry if he was still alive.

On the down side, as I've said before, we had to do a leeetle bit of hunting for places to eat in Tahoe.  Fortunately, our traveling companions are as crazy about the Welshman as we are (Thanks again Grandpa and Grandma) so they didn't mind a bit, but your mileage may vary on that. 

Also, I think next time we take the pup, we'll plan our vacation just a little bit shorter.  Although we couldn't keep him out of the pool and he was always excited to go some place new, by the end of the week his eyes kind of had a glazed, overstimulated look.  Whenever the activity stopped, even for just a moment, he completely crashed out the way that he does only after a hard day of play at home.  I think he was just exhausted.

More philosophically, in the coinky-dink way the universe sometimes works out, before we left I picked up a book called "Dog Years" by Mark Doty, to read on the plane.  It's a wonderful story, and I highly recommend it.  But the part that really got me thinking was near the beginning, when Doty talks about how dogs don't think in human words.  The concept fascinated me--have you ever tried to think without using words?  Really, take a second and try....hard isn't it?

Inspired, throughout the trip, I was continually trying to imagine what Moe was thinking and how he was thinking it.  He obviously didn't know he was in California, or even what California is.  But even with my own puny human nose I can always tell there's a different smell in the air, the landscape is incredibly different than any Moe's ever seen--I have to imagine he realized he was somewhere new, if nothing else.

I was discussing all of this with Sweet Husband on the way home last night, when he tossed in the piece that really baked my noodle.  Apparently--and I trust his trivia knowledge enough to believe him--the reason human babies don't remember things before they learn to talk, is because you have to have words in order to convert things to memory.  In other words, you can't remember something before you have a name to remember it by. 

So, does Moe, who presumably doesn't have words to describe the things he's seen, even remember that he went on vacation?

Don't get me wrong, I completely accept that he has the ability to learn.  He knows that when I hold my arm up I want him to sit, and I'm sure that if we took him back to Nice Dad's it would be familiar to him....But can he look back and see pictures in his head of the lake and the trees and the pool?  Can he remember the smell of the pine needles?  How cold the river water was?

I'll admit, the idea that we had this whole week of fun that he might never think of again disturbed me.  Part of the wonder of having dogs is that they're so in-the-moment, but we humans like to think of joy as a thing you can hold and store up.  For probably the first time ever, I wished Moe were a little more like me.

But then, at about four in the morning, I was woken up by a howling, running in place, and--as I quickly figured out--sleeping dog laying at the foot of my bed.  He was clearly having the greatest dream ever.  Whether he was running on the beach or swimming in the pool, I'll never know; but if this past week gave him nothing else, if he only ever remembers in his dreams....I can live with that.