Does your dog speak English (or your native language)? Mine does!
Appropriate parents are generally careful not to say insulting or hurtful things in front of their young children for fear that the kids may be able to understand them. Even though very young toddlers my not be able to speak well, they can often comprehend everything they hear. Although there are many skeptics out there, it’s clear to me that the same goes for dogs.
Do dogs have feelings? Do dogs have compassion? Do dogs understand our specific words? I’m not an animal scientist, but I am a lifelong dog, (and dozens of other pets) owner/parent/sibling/admirer/fanatic. So, I can comfortably say, “Yes” to all of my above questions.
I have watched our four dogs, individually and separately get embarrassed when asked which one of them hopped onto the kitchen table to steal and shred napkins. Eyes averted, they drop their tails and look anywhere but directly into our eyes like they do when we ask them anything pleasant, such as, “who wants a piece of cheese?” Okay, I know that’s an extra special question, but you get my point.
Today, while I was downstairs writing this blog, I walked past the dogs on the couch to see little Dolly looking like the Joker from Batman. She had two gooey gobs of red gunk streaked across her black beard on either side of her mouth. Fear-stricken, I dove in, first smelling then trying to pull the gummy mess out of her beard. Weird. It had no odor, no taste (yes, I tasted it…eww), and beside being annoyed by my tugging at her beard, Dolly seemed fine.
Then the light bulb lit up. I had eaten one of those odd little round cheeses in the red waxy case. Upstairs. Yup, the bed was a crime scene of red wax specks everywhere. While I asked her two siblings and her mama who made the mess, they scurried around the bed wagging their tails. Dolly sat right outside the bedroom door, head down, ears back. Enough said.
But, here’s my favorite Dolly understanding English story. She and her mama and two siblings like to wrestle on our bed every night. It’s their routine. Well, not so much for Goji, the middle puppy, as she prefers to squeak her stuffed squirrel or watch the wrestling matches. She doesn’t appreciate the rough stuff.
This specific night, Dolly convinced big sister Goji to join her in a friendly scuffle while mama Dinah and brother Raji relaxed. While I watched the match from my spot against the headboard, my hubby officiated/egged-on the dogs from the floor at the end of the bed. He knows Goji needs encouragement to keep up with her sister. She actually seemed to be enjoying herself. But, it wasn’t more than 45 seconds into the match of flying ears, flips, growls, grumbles, static hair, somersaults and gnashing teeth that Dolly lost control and aggressively snapped at Goji, sending Goji diving onto my lap for “protection.” In Dolly’s defense, Goji is a major sissy…super sensitive.
Six feet from Goji, Dolly sat, unfazed by her sister’s hurt feelings. Until Daddy said, in a firm but clear voice, “Dolly, that was rude, you need to go apologize to Goji.” Get ready for it… Without skipping a beat, Dolly hopped up(she hops everywhere, part bunny, I think), and marched right over to Goji, gave her three quick licks on the face and strolled away with a lightness in her step. Even Goji softened and left my lap.
My hubby and I picked up our dropped jaws and simultaneously said, “did that just happen?” Oh, yes it did. Dolly understands perfect English.
“Obviously we don’t have empirical data to understand these claims,” says Peter Pongrácz from the Family Dog Project in Budapest, “but clearly dogs do truly behave in ways that convince their owners that they really do understand.”
So, be careful, because YOUR dogs probably do, too!
Enjoy your genius animals and have a great day! Wag On!