I suspect him of somehow knowing the day of the week and approximately what time it is. He knows how long it takes for my dad to pick me up, or at what time I arrive when I go by myself. Even when he can’t read the signs, because nobody is with him or because the others don’t know it yet. Often, we know because he showed us (with his body language).
At least 5 minutes before the car arrives, he’ll sit in front of the door. First a bit more to the back of the wall, but slowly he’ll go more forwards to the door, until he sits against it and I, Hippo, won’t be able to open it until he moves.
Eagerly and in extreme alert he sits there. Silent. His eyes hardly moving. Almost as if he’s ready to attack. Minutes pass and nothing happens. He doesn’t respond to (most of the) noises, which is very different from normal. After a while he can’t hold it any longer. A soft squeek escapes from his nose (which my father refers to as the ‘nose whistle’). The nervosity he has, shows a little. A tiny lift with his butt. A spasm in his paw. Then he’s a statue again, until it takes too long.
He can hear the car when it’s at the beginning of the street, when the humans in the house can’t hear it yet. He can distinguish between the different car sounds. My parent’s car, my car, the cars of our multiple neighbours, random car etc. So his statue breaks when he hears the right car (mine or my parents – he already figures out before for which one he’ll have to listen. Is my car gone? Didn’t my dad leave about 2 hours ago? Then it’ll probably mine. If my father’s car arrives, he won’t respond. He was waiting for me. Very cute, because sometimes we can confuse him by going with the ‘wrong’ car). He moves more closely to the door. Sits again, wiggles his tail, from slowly to faster, more eager, to very enthusiastic. Quickly he stands up, wigging his tail or sometimes literally rotating it (we still haven’t figured out how that’s possible). He seperately lifts his paws a little and puts them down again – in random order. Maybe a little squeek escapes from his nose again. He doesn’t know what to do. It’s taking so long… he sits down again. This can go over a couple times. It gets ‘worse’ when we’re parking at the ramp. Depending on how long it takes before I get out of the car (and unpack it a little).
The car door closes and he gets in action. Immediately, all the stiffness and calmness is gone. He’s overjoyed and starts to jump. He knows he’s not allowed to scratch the door and by now he can jump very high or extend his paws or stay in the air for a longer period of time. Sometimes he stands on his paws for a long time, ‘dancing’ or hopping. I’m not in sight yet, but that doesn’t matter. He’s certain I will come. I look through the net curtains and see him. He sees me too and becomes even happier. A tail-wiggling kangaroo. I open the door, call his name and then – he gets confused. The Hippo leaves again, oh no. He stands still – looking worried. Quickly I return, calling his name. I would never leave without saying goodbye (and he knows that), I just had to get some bags out of the car. When I’m in the hallway, only one door is still between us. He’s dancing in front of it and I watch him and talk to him, while trying to dump as much of the bags randomly in the hallway. Hoping I’ll get a hand free to stroke him – because that’s what he wants and needs.
[Photo of a Beagle puppy jumping straight up]
My dog isn’t the same breed as the one on the photo. Because of my anonimity, my dog has to stay anonymous too (there are photos of him on the intergalactic network). I didn’t have the heart to tell him this, because it would make him really sad.
When I open the door, something happens. He knows he can’t jump at me because of my disabilities. So suddenly he keeps his paws on the ground, well most of the time. Of course he wants to dance with me too, so sometimes, if I allow him, he’ll stand at me, with his paws reaching over my shoulders. I can grap them and dance a little, he even likes that, but I won’t do that too long because I don’t want to strain him.
Kisses everywhere, a tail that hits everyone hard who is near him (he can actually leave a bruise) or sometimes hits a wall which sounds very painful. He doesn’t show, all he shows is extreme happiness. I stroke and cuddle him, he follows me to the couch so I can do that better since I can’t bend over. Every little fibre in his body shows happiness. Hippo returned safely again and we should celebrate that. Now he can look forward to a cuddle servant for the period that I’ll stay in this house and are in the living room. After a couple minutes, it’s enough. All this enthusiasm takes it’s toll and he’ll lie down, happily. Ready to jump over the coffee table if I call him (he literally does that, even though it’s easier and less far away if he just walked past it).
If someone else entered the house too, that person will be greeted with extreme enthusiasm as well – but it depends if he knows the person, although he treats everyone as a friend. Secretely I find it funny, that he’ll jump at those people if they don’t put their hands low and stroke and cuddle him. Reassuring him that they like him and will be friends. Of course I do tell him to sit and instruct the people how to act. And it depends on the other person if it works. Since my fellow Hippo and I lived in this house for a long time, he exactly knows what he wants and tolerates as well.
When he’s happy, he’s extremely happy. You can feel it everywhere in the house. It’s contagious, since we have him almost everyone is happier. And he gets happy for the smallest things. We could really learn something about that from him and I’m happy to say that I”ve already done that a little.