This is Clea, an older dog, an alpha Akita. She’s asleep on her dining room rug. On the floor beside her head lies a small plush toy, brushing her cheek. It is a whimsical dragon which belonged to Alexei, her brother, litter-mate, lieutenant and inseparable companion in life, who died about a year and a half ago.
It may seem obvious what is going in the picture, but it is not. Clea cannot share her mind with me. I must be careful not to presume too much about what she is thinking, careful not to make connections between the living Clea and the dead Alexei that may not be in her mind, but only in mine.
That would be projection and unwarranted anthropomorphization. Those are bad. Then, again, so is denial. In any case, there is nobody whom Clea can tell what she feels. In this post, I argue that we should listen anyway.