How many times a day do you have this conversation?
Your spouse/child: “Did you say something?”
You: “I was talking to the dog.”
I am not ashamed to say that this scenario is played out between Bentley, Pierre, my husband Skipper, and myself several times a day. We both speak to the dogs just like we talk to each other. No squeaky voices, no baby words. We speak to them as we would any other member of the family. Does that make us weird? I don’t think so, but then again, I’m the one carrying on conversations with a Basset Hound and a Westie.
Bentley: “Excuse me, Mom? Are you seriously going to write a post about whether I communicate with you? Let me ask you something, how do you know when I need to use the outdoor facilities?
Me: “You go to the back door and whack the blinds. I’ve been meaning to ask you why you won’t ring the bells. That’s what they are hanging there for, you know.”
Bentley: “Yeah, I know. The bells are Pierre’s thing. I find making the blinds sound like someone is busting through the door to be more effective for me. It’s a personal choice and it is communicating. How do you know when I am hungry?”
Me: “If I happen to be a few minutes late in serving your meal, you climb on me, making it impossible for me to work, and at times, difficult to breath.”
Bentley: “Does it relay the message to you that I am on the brink of starvation? Once I allow you to breath, don’t you go fetch my dinner? That’s communication!
Me: “You don’t leave me much of a choice. It is hard to ignore you when you’re on top of me.”
Bentley: “Let’s say I want to go for my walk. How do you know that is what I want?”
Me: “That’s easy! You go stick your head in the leash box and then give me ‘the look.’ Dad said that you told him where your ball was the other day.”
Bentley: “Oh my gosh! That was an epic example of communication skills! He had gotten down on the floor to play a game of tug-o-war. However, I had recently gotten a fresh sniff of my long-lost 'Basset' ball, which had rolled under your chest of drawers. This was my chance to have dad grab it. That’s a problem with having these short arms; I just don’t have the reach.”
Me: “He said that you crawled over and stuck your nose under the dresser.”
Bentley: “That’s right. I knew he’d be curious when I didn’t immediately jump on the game of tug. I stuck my nose under the opening and then gave him ‘the look.’ It was all very dramatic. I may have whined and pawed like Lassie whenever Timmy fell into the well. *He didn’t, but he loves to embellish. Dad quickly came over to see what I was trying to show him.”
Me: “That’s when I walked in to see what y’all were doing. I saw Dad pull the 'Basset' ball out and your tail was swishing like a metronome. That’s when your dad told me, “He just asked me to get his ball out from under the dresser!” You tell us stuff everyday but this was different. When you show us something out of the ordinary, it lets us know that you understand the art of communicating. It’s very impressive.”
Bentley: “All animals communicate; it is up to you humans to learn our languages. Dogs communicate to anyone that knows how to listen. I believe this is a ground-breaking discovery. Do you think this makes me eligible for a Nobel Prize of some sort?"
Me: “You probably shouldn't work on an acceptance speech just yet.”
Bentley: “Well, I can't be expected to ad-lib a showstopping speech. Just sayin'. Anyway, if you’d please move your laptop, I need to cut off your air supply until you feed me.”
Me: “I think that we've proven our point. You should be talking to your dog. They really get it!”
Do you talk to your dog or cat in your regular voice or a baby voice?