What Dogs Are Thinking

By Elsa Watson

What do you suppose he’s thinking?”
We’ve all had a moment—or a hundred—of looking into our dog’s eyes and trying to figure out what’s going on between those two furry ears. Sometimes it’s painfully obvious, like when a Lab is staring—hard—at a tennis ball. But most of the time it’s a mystery. Dogs bark, they run and sniff, they spring into the air, and most of the time we have no idea what’s going on in their heads.

Dog Days by Elsa Watson
Dog Days by Elsa Watson

Not, of course, that that’s ever stopped me from trying to guess. I’m one of those people who loves putting words into my dogs’ mouths.
“Lucky says ‘move out of the front seat,’” I’ll say. “He’s driving today.”
“Kota says ‘I’ll eat those French fries for you. It’s no problem. Really.’”
I have a feeling this is a pretty annoying habit. Even so, I can’t stop myself. The words just pop out. Sometimes I do it to be funny, like when I have Lucky, the senior dog of our pack, refer to my husband by his first name and to me as “number two.” I also like to imagine that there’s a grain of truth hidden in my one-liners. But at the end of the day, I have to admit that I’m just making things up. I have no idea what they’re thinking. And I never will.
That’s why it was so much fun to climb into the mind of a dog when I was writing my novel Dog Days. In the world of fiction, there are no rules—or very few—so if you want to write from the perspective of a dog, you can. And if you want to make up the whole thing, start to finish, without ever once hedging and saying “of course, I don’t really know what this dog is thinking,” you can do that, too.
When this occurred to me, I was giddy. And I was even more tickled when I settled on the dog of my story, a rambunctious white German shepherd named Zoe. Zoe is a loveable goof who has her own ideas about things. But a crazy thing happens to h

er—and to Jessica Sheldon, my human main character. When they’re struck by magical lightning, they switch bodies. Zoe finds herself (to her delight) in a human body, while Jessica winds up in a dog’s body. When this idea first struck, the image I couldn’t get out of my mind was of a dog suddenly trying to operate a human body. I pictured it flailing around, butt up in the air, trying to go on all fours, and I knew this was a book I had to write.
As I was writing, whenever I found myself stumped as to what Zoe should think or do next, I just asked myself what our dog Kota would do. Kota has a great sense of humor and a strong personality, so I knew she’d never waffle. If there were cookies to pull out of a garbage can, she would pull them out. If she spotted a cat from afar, she’d make a bee line for it. I’ve had so many years of practice with putting words in Kota’s mouth, it was easy to do it for Zoe, too. It was as if I’d been practicing all these years, getting ready for my one big chance to really and truly speak for a dog. Even if that dog is fictitious.

Similar Articles




Recent Book Trailers



Don't Miss

6 Reads That Are Spooky…But Not Too Spooky

Spooky season is almost upon us! But if you like your Halloween books easy on the scary, we’ve got some booook recs for you. Grab your...


Sometimes high school drama feels like the end of the world…even during the real end of the world. From Dark Horse Comics, Acclaimed creator Curt...


iscover Skull and Bones: Savage Storm: an all new series from Dark Horse and Ubisoft Dark Horse Comics is proud to team up with Ubisoft...

THE SCIENCE OF WITCHCRAFT By The Bram Stoker Award nominated horror duo of Kelly...

The Science of Witchcraft: The Truth Behind Sabrina, Maleficent, Glinda, and More of Your Favorite Fictional Witches from Kelly Florence and Meg Hafdahl Kelly Florence...

American Library Association Releases Preliminary Data on 2022 Book Bans

Total book challenges in 2022 set to exceed 2021 record Eight months into 2022, the number of attempts to ban or restrict library resources in...

In a 1960s World That Is Changing, a Young Girl Finds Her Place in...

On the cusp of her eleventh birthday, Becky Chalmers is straddling childhood and growing up as she navigates the world of the 1960s in her idyllic...

Reading Eggs Releases New Books and Features to Support Families Beginning the New School...

Reading Eggs, a Blake eLearning program that creates a unique online world where children learn to read, today announced the release of brand-new children's...

George M. Johnson Named Honorary Chair of Banned Books Week

The Banned Books Week Coalition is proud to announce that George M. Johnson has been named Honorary Chair for Banned Books Week 2022. The...

Celebrate Banned Books Week!

“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials. Readers, particularly students, are losing access to...

Death in the Everglades Tells Real-Life Stories of Murders, Accidents, Airline Disasters, Bus Crashes,...

Death in the Everglades, the seventh book by Randi Minetor in the nonfiction series about real people who die in national parks, dives deep into the...