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Friday, October 18, 2013

Cursing, Dog-Style

The other day Trent posted something on Google+ about whether people talk to their pets. Whether they admit it or not, I believe a lot of people do. We used to talk to our little dog Paris quite a bit. In her own doggish way, she often "talked" to us as well. Her vocalizations merely lacked words to make them complete. But she always did a good job of making her point understood.

Funny thing about dogs - they understand words more than people think they do. Many people claim that dogs are not responding to our words, but rather our tone of voice. While I will agree that dogs respond to our tone of voice, as well as visual cues, I must disagree with their supposed lack of understanding of individual words. Regardless of our tone, Paris knew the meaning of numerous words. Heck, each of her numerous toys had a name. And if you mentioned playing with her Cow, you couldn't just switch to her Teddy. She knew better. Although she has been gone from us for over a year now, we still hesitate to use the word hungry. Whispered, shouted, hissed, cooed - no matter how it was said, it elicited the same reaction. Paris would jump up and start vocalizing, and then run for the kitchen. She usually stopped on the way to pick up one of her toys. This minor distraction could potentially have been the one thing that kept her from losing her mind while she waited for the delicious canned food, or even better, Mommy's home made food, to get into her bowl. And at moments like this, if she had the ability to use words, I have no doubt she would have talked my ears off.

There were times when we'd say something to her that would be met with a look that obviously said we were out of our minds. The most common trigger would involve something like a request for her to quit hogging the bed. Seriously, it's amazing that an eight-and-a-half pound dog could take up three-quarters of a king sized bed. From time to time, we would talk about what exactly Paris would say if she could talk. Some things were more obvious than others, of course. Instead of just going out to the kitchen and assuming a playful and adorable pose in front of the refrigerator while wagging her tail and vocalizing, I am sure she'd have a few choice and intelligent words to say. "Hi, fridge! You know, my stomach is feeling a bit empty at the moment. I know that Mommy made me some chicken stew last night. It's on your second shelf on the left side, in a square container. I don't mind eating it cold." Of course when the refrigerator failed to produce a bowl of food for her, she would come back to find me, giving me that bright, wide-eyed look, accompanied by the Paris version of a grin. And that could always progress to talking. "Mommy! I need to have some chicken stew! You know you made it for me, you told me so when you put all of the stuff in the pot. I would like some right now, please. I can show you where it is if you need any help finding it. Okay, let's go to the kitchen."

But what would a dog say to you if you really disgusted her or made her angry? It's not like she's going to call you a bitch. After all, that is simply the name for a female canine. Paris would have been more likely, then, to call me the sweetest bitch in the world while I was giving her a sustained tummy rub, or giving her a treat or something. What would dog cursing be like? "No, I do not want to take a bath right now, you...woman!" Or, "Hey, quit rolling over on my legs while I'm trying to sleep, you big, stupid, hairless two-legged weirdo!" "Why don't you just hop away on your hind legs and go wipe your tail-less butt with some paper!" "You're so dumb, you don't even sniff before you poop!" "Hey, short-nose, wake up and smell the fire hydrant!" "Yeah, it takes a lot of smarts to fake like you're throwing the ball, genius!" "Nice kiss, toothpaste-breath!" I don't know. Maybe it's a good thing they can't curse. I'm not sure we could handle it!