Animals Say Thank You

By Terry Golson

Today I shared an apple with Tonka.


After Tonka finished chewing and swallowing, he continued to lip smack and savor the moment.


Then Tonka licked my breeches. He wasn’t nudging me for more. He was being affectionate and thanking me.


Yes, I believe that sometimes animals are grateful and that they want to communicate that. I learned this from Karen Pryor. Years ago, she and I were having a conversation at my dining room table. A few minutes before I’d fed my dog her dinner. As Karen and I were talking, Lily walked over to me, touched her nose on my leg, and then continued on past. Karen said, Lily just thanked you. It was such a subtle gesture on my dog’s part. One Lily had done before but that I’d never paid attention to. As soon as Karen said that I knew that she was right. Once you start seeing these small, and often sweet, bits of body language, it changes your world. Gratitude, thankfulness, kindness. If you notice a glimmer their light will shine brighter. Sounds like a sentiment for a cheesy inspirational poster, but it’s true. Lily’s bumping me with her snout, and likewise Tonka’s slobbery nosing, could have been interpreted by me as annoying mugging and I could have pushed them away. Those good feelings stopped in their tracks. But when you see these small gestures for what they are, you can respond with equal affection.

Have you been thanked lately? Tell me about it in the comments!

10 thoughts on “Animals Say Thank You

  • Robin

    My cat pats me gently on the head sometimes, in a different manner from her FEED ME NOW insistent pat. 🙂

  • Deborah Borrowdale-Cox

    We took our old man cat to the vet today to get his ears checked. While he complained loudly in the car, once in the office, the calm, affectionate manner of the vet, and the relief he obviously felt once his ears were cleaned were reflected in a quiet, then a soft purr. Once home, he followed us around for a while-a new behavior for him-and nestled and nudged for a few minutes, then went on about his day. I’m grateful to realize that he was saying thanks, and sharing his feelings.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      First of all, a huge shout-out to your veterinarian for handling your cat with such patience and kindness. Secondly, thank you for telling me that because of what I wrote, you noticed your cat’s message to you. Isn’t it wonderful to have that door open? 🙂

  • Paula Maxwell

    I rescued Tyson, a large older mixed-breed dog, from the shelter. His first night here, I put down a bowl of food for him and moved away to give him some space in his new surroundings. He took a bite, lifted his head to look at me, and then walked over to me and licked my hand. He then returned to his bowl and finished his dinner. My eyes filled with tears as I realized he was thanking me. I will never forget that moment.

      • Shelley Combs

        Terry, my friend Paula (who commented right up there ^^^) is not only a wonderful person, and a life-long rescuer/advocate of animals, but also very modest. So I wanted to share her beautiful photography -and amazing eye- with you. You can see her talents at

        • Terry Golson Post author

          Thank you for sharing Paula’s photo blog. They are wonderful! The dog portraits are full of personality, and I like seeing the nature photos from the other side of the country.

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