Thursday, July 18, 2019


Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication
As the cold spring rains turned into the dry heat of summer, Goldie’s puppies grew larger and stronger.  Each day, Mom continued to teach us lessons in listening with our eyes.  I knew that I was Mom’s best student.  Mom would always tell me, “Sassie, you need to pay attention!”  I liked learning a new skill.

The prey knowledge was an important survival skill.  Mom taught us the parts of the predatory sequence which began with the eyes, then the stalk, then the chase, followed by the bite, then kill, and finally dissect.  I had already been using my eyes to scan the areas around me.  

If I saw something interesting, I seemed to automatically stare intensely at the object.  My body shifted my weight onto my front toes.  My ears were pricked forward, and at this time I might do a prey bow.  Sometimes I would get small, walk quietly, and perform a stalking movement toward my intended target, before I did the prey bow. The Prey Bow is the position I take just before I case my victim.  My back legs are tense and ready to push me forward.  My elbows do not touch the ground and my front legs are braced.  All my muscles are ready for action.

I would then spring into a chase.  During the chase my head would be lowered, my ears pricked, and I would have an intense fixed gaze on my target.  Other than the capture of my prey, the chase was the most exciting part of the hunt.  When I attacked my victim, I would give it an additional shake to kill it.  These hunting skills were needed if we were to survive.  Sometimes I would lay in wait and patiently watch a rabbit hole, but more often I would sniff out or search the area for our food.  We needed to hunt for food in the wooded area we called home.

One day as we were hunting we saw an animal that stood on two feet.  Mom told us that this animal was a man.  She warned us that man was a danger and should be avoided.  We practiced hiding whenever we came upon this creature. 

Mom had noticed that I would ignore caution whenever I was curious about something.  She would often warn me about this dangerous practice.  I tried to do as she taught and made every effort to listen to my mom, but I wanted to know more about the animal called man.  I saw little reason to fear man.  They moved slowly and looked safe.  They made enough noise, so I always knew whenever they entered the wooded area. 

I made sure that I was well hidden as I watched two men come through an area of the woods.  I did notice that one man was taller and fatter than the other.  They were carrying sticks that I later called “thunder sticks.”  These sticks made a loud sharp crack like the sound of thunder.  If I saw man carrying a thunder stick, I would always move further into the woods to hide, not because of Mom’s advice, but because the loud noise scared me.

Exploring one day, I had traveled a great distance into the woods.  That was when I discovered a dirt road.  As I walked down this road, I saw a large hole that seemed to go deep under one side of the road.  I looked into this hole and saw what looked like some light and dirt a distance from where I stood.  Carefully, I moved into the hole and crawled to the area of dirt and light.  When I crawled out into the light I looked around.  I then realized that I had crawled under the dirt road.  What a great hiding spot, I thought. 

That was when I heard a loud rumble.  I leaped into the hole and crouched back away from the entrance.  The noise became very loud, and I felt a vibration that was scary.  The rumble quickly grew softer and turned into a quieter sound.  The vibration seemed to slowly disappear.  As I crawled out of the hole I could see that something on the road had created a fog of dust.

I realized that my hiding spot was not only good but a safe spot as well.  Knowing I had a safe spot to hide in, I decided to look beside the road and investigate the interesting smells.  I did not wish to wander too far from my safe hideout, but the scent reminded me of food, so I moved forward. 

That is when I discovered the black skin.  I pounced on it and the black skin split open to reveal some food scraps.  I gobbled the food and decided that this black skin held good things to eat.  I looked to see if I could find another such skin and was rewarded several times in my search. 

As I returned to my hideout, I heard another loud rumble.  This time I decided that I wanted to see what created this noise, so I did not go very far into the hole.  The vibration and noise seemed to stop quickly.  As I slowly looked out of my hide-away, I could see a man walking from a large metal object.  He stopped for a moment and threw one of those black skins into the woods.  He hopped back into the metal thing.  I heard the loud noise start, and his metal object moved away from me.  I realized that man came with this metal object, and that this was what had caused the dirt fog.


With her permission, I will be serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through

As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my endeavor.

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