Ray has taken on the responsibility of washing our hands on a daily basis! He has done this in the past on isolated occasions and we just accepted it as a whim of the moment however, a regular washing routine started a couple of weeks ago.
We had just finished our dinner and Ray was patiently waiting on his bed and watching us for any sign of movement. Our habit, after dinner, is to get up and take our plates into the kitchen whereupon, if he had been good, he would get a treat. As soon as I started to get up off the sofa, he was up with tail wagging and heading into the kitchen whereupon he, of course, got his treat and I made a couple of coffees.
What used to happen at this point is that we would watch the rest of the CTV News while enjoying our coffees. Ray would find a place to chill which would usually be the chair, or his bed, or on the floor in front of us, and he would generally stay there for the rest of the evening. His only movements would be to roll over or otherwise change his position.
On this occasion however, while I was holding my cup of coffee in one hand, Ray decided to stand directly in front of me and just looked at me. He then reached forward, well over my lap, with his head and proceeded to start washing my other hand.
Perhaps it’s my inexperience with dogs*, or perhaps Ray’s tongue action is simply in proportion to his size however, regardless of the explanation, I was very surprised at the pressure on my hand from his tongue! In fact I decided to err on the side of caution and reached over the side of the sofa to put my coffee cup on the floor, rather than risk him knocking it! Perhaps it was my imagination but I am pretty sure that I saw happy glint in his eyes as he immediately switched his attention to my “coffee cup” hand.
My “coffee cup” hand received a considerable wash, and then he reverted back to the other hand. When he was satisfied with his work, he simply moved over and started on Carol’s hands!
Once when Ray was just about to start his self-imposed washing duties, I happened to move my hand away from him (I was just getting into a more comfortable position) but he was not going to be deterred and simply came up onto the sofa whereupon the washing process commenced.
On another occasion, I was really slumped (really poor position for posture!) and had my hands just resting in my pants pockets. He made it extremely clear that my hands were not going to escape a thorough wash!
Ray is a bit of a drooler and, while having my hands “gooped” all over as he does his thing is not the most pleasant of experiences, it clearly is important to him and I can always wash my hands in a more traditional way later! The end result is that we let him wash our hands after dinner.
This new habit has been the subject of much discussion and our initial thought was that he was simply licking our hands because he could smell traces of food (no we don’t usually eat with our fingers!). This theory is now in question because on one occasion, I had given my hands a good wash before making the coffee and he still felt it necessary to wash me.
Since he first started this routine, it has become a guaranteed end to every dinner and he really takes his time. I must say that he appears to be extremely thorough and my thought now is that perhaps he has decided his role here is to take care of us in much the same way as he would take care of himself? He is quite good at rationalizing situations, so I have no doubt he realizes that we do much for him. Is he possibly looking for a niche that he can fill in order to feel that he is contributing? It’s an interesting thought.
*refer “About Me”