I talk to my dogs, my plants, my car, and lots of things that can’t talk back.
It’s anthropomorphizing—a big word that means attaching human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities.
Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago and anthropomorphism expert says:
“Historically, anthropomorphizing has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it’s actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet. No other species has this tendency.”
Why and how humans have this ability can’t be fully explained because our brains are so very complicated. Finding human characteristics in inanimate objects signals the brain’s creativity at work.
Anthropomorphizing is also part of our nature. We are social animals. We want to befriend everyone we meet, give them a name, or have them give us their name, and talk to them.
If you saw the movie Castaway, Tom Hanks’ beloved best friend was Wilson, a volleyball with a face. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a great film.
Around my house, my vacuum cleaner is Ugh-glow, my canning strainer Shirley, and the metal art dragon in my yard is Custard. My houseplants have names too and sometimes they even perk up with a pep talk.
My Old English sheepdog Finnegan MacCool and I communicate well. So does his older brother, our Maltese Buster.
I ask them if they’re hungry as I pour the food into their bowls or if they want to go play outside. I tell them to keep the giraffes away from the house when I leave and say “I’ll be back soon” as I walk out the door.
Fellow pet owners will relate. Others think I’ve gone cuckoo.
That’s okay. I take comfort in Epley’s words. Anthropomorphizing is superior intellect and creativity showing forth.
Do you have any inanimate friends you have anthropomorphized?
Behaviorists are not yet sure what part of the storm frightens dogs most, whether they’re reacting to lightning flashes, the sound of thunder, wind blowing around the house, or the sound of rain on the roof. Some dogs even start to pace and whine half an hour or more before a storm. They may be reacting to a sudden drop in air pressure or the electrical charge of the air.
A very clever entrepreneur invented a thing called a thundershirt to relieve the animals’ suffering. An ingenious marketing technique to name the cure after the cause, don’t you think?
We haven’t tried the product with Buster through the shirt has been proven to work for many animals.
I’m Buster’s thundershirt.
Whenever a storm is coming, Buster moves from his place approximately four feet away next to my desk, which puts him within a short jump to my lap.
The first clap of thunder he jumps up and cuddles in my lap.
It works for him and, fortunately, since he’s so small I can still keep working.
Plus these mountain thunderstorms drop the temperature at least ten degrees and I get a chill. Buster is like an electric blanket on my lap.
Do you or your pet have a phobia? How do you cope?
Our Old English sheepdog came to us nine years ago at age nine weeks. Our bond was instant.
He’s been my best friend and trusty companion ever since. He’s constantly by my side. Sleeping in the keyhole of my desk does get a bit crowded sometimes. He didn’t stay eleven pounds for very long.
When Toby was five, Buster joined our family. (He’s stayed at eleven pounds.)
We inherited the little Maltese from my daughter and, since the dogs had spent time together at family gatherings, we didn’t have issues when Buster came to live with us permanently.
Well, not major issues. There is the problem of rawhide bones.
Toby will NOT share and Buster constantly steals the well-chewed and moist pieces. If Toby catches him, there’s gnarling and snapping, but never ever any contact. It’s as though Toby knows he could hurt the littler dog.
When Toby realizes a bone has being stolen, he asks me to return his property. (Yep, Toby and I talk to one another.)
Then Buster, with his Napoleonic complex, goes after his much bigger brother as though to eat him alive…again Toby ignores him and settles with his repossessed bone.
Buster and Toby have bonded and rely on one another after four years. Watching the two dogs together has taught me some important lessons.
Be Loyal (but not to a fault)
Dogs are loyal. That’s what they do, who they are. We’ve all seen the pictures and read stories like the heartwarming story of the Labrador Retriever who famously laid down next to the coffin of his US soldier human.
Loyalty can be a huge asset, but my canine boys have taught me blind loyalty is foolish.
Walking is our ritual. Three times a day we hike around the area. I always do the early morning sunrise walk, but if I’m on deadline or absorbed in writing, those noontime and evening walks aren’t going to happen. They might prefer my company, but necessity dictates they have to go with whoever is available.
That can happen in our human lives too. Loyalty is definitely an asset, but often we have to do what it takes to get the job done.
Trust your instincts.
I see this principle often when I walk the dogs. Both will react if they deem someone or some animal we meet along our way as threatening.
Toby is allowed to determine our routes. Sometimes we go the short way, sometimes we walk for five miles, and sometimes we don’t leave the porch.
I trust him. There might be a bear or coyote lurking that I can’t see.
In life, we have to trust instincts too. Sure, it’s important to take time to listen to others’ input. But in the end, we should heed our gut instincts.
Know what you want and be super persistent about securing it.
Dogs know persistence pays.
Consider the last time your dog sat beside you through an entire meal, gazing up with Bambi eyes? Did you cave and toss a bite, impressed by his determination and patience?
Buster and Toby recline by my chair at mealtime like bookends. One on my left, one on my right. They don’t beg unless ice cream or pizza is involved. Then Toby sits in that perfect sit he never seemed to manage in dog obedience class and Buster, not to be ignored, jumps up on the edge of my chair.
The scenario reminds me how very, very important dogged persistence can be. We should not give up on our goals.
There might be setbacks or defeats. Poor Toby and Buster don’t always get to lick the ice cream bowl especially if company’s here. Seeing a dog lick a bowl humans use tends to freak some people out. But hey, that’s what the sani-wash option on the dishwasher is for.
Even if we fail, persistence helps us learn what to do better next time or what techniques or approaches work, and what don’t.
Last, and probably the most significant, thing…
Go outside and play.
Writing is a solitary occupation. I tend to spend hour upon hour at my laptop. For Toby and Buster, it’s boring.
With technology penetrating every portion of our lives and jobs, it’s easy to be online and working 24-7. We forget the importance of refreshing our mind and body.
After a while, Toby will nudge my elbow and Buster will whine – not a pretty sound or sight, but effective – until I give up and push away from the computer, iPad, or iPhone.
Happy Release Day to Jody Hedlund for Unending Devotion!
If you like historicals, you’ll love this one!
High-Stakes Drama Meets High-Tension Romance
In 1883 Michigan, Lily Young is on a mission to save her lost sister, or die trying. Heedless of the danger, her searches of logging camps lead her to Harrison and into the sights of Connell McCormick, a man doing his best to add to the hard-earned fortunes of his lumber baron father.
Posing during the day as a photographer’s assistant, Lily can’t understand why any God-fearing citizen would allow evil to persist and why men like Connell McCormick turn a blind eye to the crime rampant in the town. But Connell is boss-man of three of his father’s lumber camps in the area, and like most of the other men, he’s interested in clearing the pine and earning a profit. He figures as long as he’s living an upright life, that’s what matters.
Lily challenges everything he thought he knew, and together they work not only to save her sister but to put an end to the corruption that’s dominated Harrison for so long.
Author Bio: Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling books, The Preacher’s Bride and The Doctor’s Lady. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children.
To celebrate the release of Jody’s book I’m paying tribute to my dogs who have given me their unending devotion in exchange for so little—food in their bowl and a pet on the head or rub on the belly every now and then.
My love affair with Old English Sheepdogs began with Obadiah who never quite understood he was a dog.
My daughter treated him like the little brother she never had.
Next came Micah.
A furry bundle of energy for Christmas.
He joined my granddog Bernie, a terrier mix, who came to live with us when our son went off to seminary. Rhinestone was our rescue OES.The three of us made quite a spectacle walking in the neighborhood.
Micah, Bernie and Rhinestone
As happens with large dogs, Micah’s hips played out. We lost him and Bernie (at age 17) about the same time. Rhinestone became even more attached to me. When we emptied our house to have hardwood floors installed, I worried the stress would be too much for her.
She went to live with my sister-in-law who had never married.
How cool to check the blogs I follow yesterday and discover that Elaine Smothers blogger extraordinaire had nominated me for the Versatile Blogger awardI’m so excited to accept the nomination. Thanks, Elaine.
As with most blog awards, acceptance comes with certain rules found on the VBA blog along with the snappy looking logo download.
Having been awarded the Versatile Blogger award, I must now:
• Thank the person who gave you this award. I’ve already thanked Elaine, but I don’t think a second thanks fine. Thanks, Elaine.
• Include a link to their blog. That’s an easy rule to follow and a pleasure to do because Elaine and Forrester share versatile and fun blog posts. Check them out for yourself here.
• Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly and nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. This rule was a bit more difficult to follow because I’m not sure who’s already been nominated. Here’s my list and bloggers, if you’ve already been nominated congratulations!
• Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. Okay, Elaine and Forrester get ready. Here are some quick things you might not know.
1. I play the piano. Not well. I like to say I have the skill, but not the talent.
2. My thumb is kinda green. This was our Angel trumpet last year. The fragrance filled the air in the backyard.
3. I used to paint. Still life and tole painting were my styles of choice. Now I paint walls, but only when I can’t hire someone else.
4. I drive slow when going through Missouri. Once got a speeding ticket when “trapped” by a radar tracking helicopter there. I don’t think my Texas license plate with the vanity trim holder that reads, “Get in, sit down, and hold on,” helped my plea of innocence.
5. I’m a dog lover. Especially Old English sheepdogs. We even share bad hair days!
6. The dogs and I walk no matter what the weather. That’s Toby’s adopted brother Buster walking with us. (He’s a ten pound Maltese.) They’re wearing matching red coats.
7. Much to my surprise, I enjoy blogging and tweeting. Thanks, Kristen Lamb for convincing me. I’m proud of my WANA tribe badge.
Okay now, blog readers, did you learn anything shocking from my reveals to Elaine and Forrest?