“Me and my Shadow” was the name of a popular song in 1927, and it’s popularity didn’t end then. It keeps popping up… most recently in October on the “Late Nite with Stephen Colbert” show. You may remember seeing reruns of the song being sung and performed by Frank Sinatra and Sammie Davis Jr.
I think of that song often when I look to my feet and there stands my little furbaby. As definite as my shadow on a sunny day, I know he’ll be there. I go to my closet to get something, and he’s beside me… I’m taking a shower and he’s right outside the stall… I walk to the kitchen for that second cup of coffee and there he is beside me. I am cautious when backing-up for fear I’ll trip over him or step on him!
Why does my dog feel has to be so close to me all the time? If it were all trips to the kitchen, that would be easy to understand… He is totally food motivated and if anyone goes anywhere NEAR the kitchen, he’s right there waiting on a treat! But he follows me to every room…kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom… it doesn’t matter. I remember a post written by our dog trainer, Melanie, that said, “… as I move through my house I have 4 shadows that follow me”. Melanie attributes this to the time, attention, and bonding she gives her dogs. They are “happy and content’ when they are with her. I definitely agree. Could there be other reasons as well?
One of the cutest explanations I have read explains how puppies follow their litter-mates to nurse. If you watch a bunch of very young puppies before they open their eyes, they quickly learn to find their food by following their siblings. They continue this behavior after opening their eyes… tumbling all over each other to get to their Mom. It’s one of the very first things that’s hard-wired into them.
Leader of the Pack
Which leads to another explanation… the whole “pack member” thing… Dogs are pack animals, no doubt. A pack member follows his leader. You are your dog’s leader. It’s only natural that he should follow you. He knows that he should keep his leader close, because that is who provides him food and shelter. Some dogs are actually bred to be dependent on us. The herding and hound dogs have a long history of working side-by-side with us. They rely on us for guidance.
Good things come to those who wait
Some dogs will consistently shadow us because of what we have inadvertently taught him. If we stop every time we see our dog to love on him (or give him a treat?), he learns that staying close creates rewards. Yep…guilty!
Walk beside me and be my friend
Some think that dogs are not “following” us, but they are just walking “with” us. Awww ..that’s a sweet and interesting perspective, isn’t it? They just enjoy the companionship with us. We are their whole life!
As I am writing this blog, my little “shadow” lays at my feet, only raising his head when he hears me move. And that’s okay… we are both very happy that way.
“Me and my shadow
We’re closer than pages that stick in a book,
closer than ripples that play in a brook…
Wherever you find him, you’ll find me, just look..”
By Billy Rose, Al Jolson, Dave Dreyer
CHECK BACK NEXT WEEK FOR “ME AND MY SHADOW 2″ WHEN WE EXAMINE WHEN “SHADOWING” IS NOT ALWAYS HEALTHY!