This may be the summer when Turtle, the mini dachshund, has mastered non-verbal communication. After spending some weeks with her Aunt Gillyweed, the chocolate lab, she has become adept at a) the nudge, b) the redirect, and c) the sigh.

Whereas the nudge primarily consists of a persistent nose pushing my hands away from the laptop, the book, or a scrap of meat, a secondary nudge can also be accomplished by bulldozing like a fullback wedge, trying to gain a little yardage, and knocking me off my occupying task.

Her redirect may be the most disturbing because it expresses that I am doing something wrong. When I am rubbing her belly, her neck, or ears, Turtle will now liberally rearrange herself, so that she can control the location, velocity, and the direction of the scratch.

Finally, I blame the two Shih-tzu puppies (Zach and Wookkie) for introducing Ms. Turtle to the sigh that signals a lack of contentment. We can barely get through a trip to the grocery without some failed nudging (“I’m driving here!”) and a deep sigh from the passenger seat that rivals the moodiest of teenagers from my classroom experience.