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Harold F. Hester

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How I Learned to Speak DOG
By Harold F. Hester
Monday, January 09, 2006

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Always leave your mind open to learn.

How I Learned to Speak…DOG

PROLOGUE: Henry is a grown man that grew up in the southwest. Growing up he was blessed with the required two parents, a sister, two dogs, a couple cats, caged canaries (until the cats ate them), a manual push lawnmower, raging hormones and can speak or understand several languages. Max is a dog that speaks only DOG but has a knack of teaching grown men what he wants them to know. Time is the present. Local is on Mother Earth most anywhere except in Korea where dog is considered the 'other white meat'.

Understanding DOG is a lot like the dog whistle, not everyone can do it.

“Woooof… woooof. woof... blink… blink…yawn… Rignare”.

Henry had heard this before and responded “Ok, OK, I’m coming. I know little buddy, I know. I know. You’re ready to eat. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Tail wagging and soulful eyes said Max understood.

“Do you really understand what he wants or just guessing?” Lynsey asked from the kitchen. She seemed serious and actually wanted to know if there was anything to this man-dog bonding thing she needed to know. As an after-thought she said, “You remember Max graduated first in his Dog-Obedience class when he was only six months old so he responds to sounds he knows. Certain sounds mean different things to him. Remember ‘Uuk’?”

Henry had forgotten 'Uuk' so he tried it and Max immediately lowered his eyes and assumed a prone position. To Lynseys first question he said, “Yea…. well kinda…. I think.” The anguished look on his face and Henrys stuttering while he seemed to be looking for the right answer told Lynsey she had hit a nerve. His wrinkled brow and speech impediments cleared when it dawned on him that he really didn’t know the right answer, if there was a right answer.

If yes, he understood Max might mean his mentality had digressed to the level of a dog or his mind had exponentially expanded during the summer to levers where he could now actually communicate with another species. Or…or…or NO would mean he was guessing. His head was saying I understand what Lynsey means when she tells me things when she really is saying one thing but actually means the opposite, and I am suppose to understand. He blinks a few times while his head worked out the details before it said 'if I can handle Lynsey and other females' it stands to reason I can handle a dog. Not real sure his heart actually believed what his head was thinking but for now let it pass. 'Yes… No?' His head yelled, but his mouth did not respond.

“I don’t know.” Henry was saying as Lynsey left the room.

Max and Henry have had many long talks over the last few years and Henry thinks they understand each other. Max doesn't have a clue what all the fuss is about.

Henry thinks Max thinks of him as: The kind of person that enjoys life to it’s fullest. He use to tell Max of his world travels when he would walk the Appian Way in the ruins of Rome and let his mind see merchants and soldiers of twenty-five centuries ago. His mind saw all the wondrous and spectacular sights inspired and directed by Augustus, Caligula and Julius as he stood in the center of the great Colosseum and before the three remaining pillars of the Vestal Virgins. The smallish Sistine Chapel was as large as the Grand Canyon as his mind witnessed Michelangelo working on its ceiling and the war-torn battle grounds of Vietnam were flower gardens and perfume hills as his mind saw beauty. He still took a good M-16 sight-picture of the bad-guys but that was part of the job. Even walking the streets of Pigalle in the City of Light (love) he saw the day-time purity of the ladies-of-the-evening and street whores.

Max thinks of Henry as: Abbaiare, Latrare and sometimes Uggiolare.

Yes, Henry understood Max.

Max is a Black Lab and as gentle as God made.

Max is the only male dog anywhere that does not lift his leg.

Max has huge brown eyes and the makings of gray whiskers under a mostly happy face.

Max is basically a pussy-cat and has taught Henry how to communicate, for example:

How does a dog tell you he’s hungry? Do you look for sounds, looks, actions any combinations? What does it mean when a dog stands cross-legged or his eyes look watery?

Dog meal times are a lot like humans, breakfast when you get up, lunch at mid-day and dinner when the work day is over. Dogs, the lucky house pets, mostly have an early and late meal. Its fun to prepare Max’s food. The morning meal is the same as the evening minus the beans. Max always shows his appreciation as he yelps, smiles and bounces on his front legs. He’s relatively quiet right up until the time the water is added to his silver serving bowl then he really shows his appreciation.

Don’t ever get between Max and his meal. A huge paw from a 100 pound dog will get you stepped on 9 out of 10 times because you didn’t get out of the path to the food dish quickly enough, but that’s OK.

There is only one thing Henry has ever considered cruel toward Max. Sometimes, and it is rare and normally only during the summer months, when ice-cream is being shared after a dinner meal that he feels sorry for Max. Lynsey is only playing with him as she works her way toward the bottom of her ice-cream dish when she will click the dish several times with her spoon. This clicking has been in his vocabulary since he was a pup and means 'goodies'. Click-click-click-click translated means you can have what’s left. I have known humans to salivate over dessert (especially Creme Brulee) and when Lynsey tells Max he can have some of her dessert he assumes the position. Directly in front of his benefactor, long front legs straight, paws turned inward and sitting on his bottom – waiting with panting breath, open mouth and a twinkle is each brown eye. Henry has always been a push-over when it comes to animals and particularly Max so when the discipline of Lynsey says, wait… wait it hurts to see Max sit at attention, waiting and drooling. Drooling!!

So far he and Henry have survived, but just barely. They both love ice-cream.

After several happy slurping sounds, it was now the moments the wet mouthed grinning black lab head sneezed twice then rubbed the side of his face on your pants leg. It was a ritual Max had used in training Henry, and it worked.

“You understood that?" Lynsey said.

Henry didn’t mouth the words but simply nodded.

“Thanks buddy.” It was the friendly phrase of a human toward his four legged buddy.

“Abbaiare, Latrare, Uggiolare…”

“What?”

“Abbaiare, Latrare, Uggiolare!!” Max emphasized.

“What does he want now?” Lynsey asked.

“Not sure. Almost sounds like he is trying to bark and yawn at the same time. Those must be the new words he learned over the holidays.” Henry said as he seemed to concentrate on Max’s head and face seeing if there was something he missed.

With a wrinkled brow Lynsey ask the simple question, “Henry…why do you call Max Buddy?"

The question was a good one but he had never given it any thought before. With down cast eyes then looking at the ceiling then toward Lynsey then in the vicinity of where Max was sprawled in the middle of the floor Henry finally muttered, “Not really sure. I probable mean it as a term of endearment. Rather then calling him by name four hundred times a day, I mix in Buddy, Hay you and You Dumb Shit sometimes. He recognizes the sounds as his and, I don’t know, maybe it’s because everyone else always calls him by the name you gave him eleven years ago. I try to keep him on his toes, so to speak.” Henry continued with “I guess it’s just my way of personalizing us. He and me. Us. Me and him. Max and Henry. Man animal and dog animal.” Henry shut up as soon as he recognized the shut-up stance from Lynsey. His mouth was open to say something alone the lines, ‘…would you prefer me calling you Lynsey all day or would you mind if I threw in… 'Honey, Sweetheart or I love you’, but he shut his mouth quickly and with his right hand made the jester of zipping his lip. She grinned.

“Gagnolage” Max tried from his prone position.

Later that day Henry sat in front of his keyboard remembering Lynsey comments and questions. It made him curious.

When you have the world in your keyboard and access to over eight billion web sites and most words that have ever been published, you use it. Henry typed “Define the language DOG” into his favorite search engine.

The query results were instantaneous. Well maybe not but 0.02 seconds is faster then quick but a bit slower then instant and just short of infinity.

Many of the 1,368,992 results were basically the same, same meanings, different wording but they all answered his query, more or less:

'On this earth there are eleven major languages spoken by over 2.8 Billion people. There are more then 6 Billion human here that leaves something less then 4 billion other people speaking languages that only a few rapper and young people can understand, and that is if you don’t count dialects. Just in the United States we have four major dialect regions: the Inland North, the South, the West, and the Midland not to mention pure Southern, Yankee, Eastern, Hollywood, and several dialects each spoken in Philadelphia, Connecticut, Maine, Arkansas, and Rhode Island. Then you have Proper English, Broken English, the Kings English, Pigeon English and American English spoken with rolling R’s to 277 accents all with misplaced vowels. The written word in this hodgepodge and patchwork languages is a bit easier to understand but then you have DOG.'

Dogs can not “human speak” but can be understood.

Speaking Dog requires a tongue that can reach all parts of the anatomy to include the complete nose and “other parts”. Understanding Dog is easy because all you must do is be able to understand body language, moods and bodily noises, but you have to pay attention. Dog owners in the world are in the minority of those that have pets. Records and polls tell us there are only 43 to 68 million of us kept dogs.

Still further down the minority food chain or those that actually speak DOG. Speaking may be a misnomer as 'understanding' may be the better word.

As Henry read his screen his mind was saying, “…I just added DOG to my resume.”

One whimsical web site from his query said, 'Would you be interested in knowing there are 238 vowel systems? No wonder the tongue gets tired at parties and eating tough steak. Dogs tongue never gets tired from barking or eating.

Dogs do not have vocal cords that can pronounce words, but they communicate nicely. They have no cuss words that we know of but they leave nothing to the immigration through innuendos or body language. How do you learn DOG? Why would anyone even be interested in knowing what an animal was saying or trying to communicate? Dogs are another species not as developed as some but more so then others – say for example… cats.'

Normal breathing was coming from Max curled at Henry’s feet on the carpeted computer room. Henry was busy reading and Max was busy,well he was busy doing, just busy doing his thing – nothing. Henry had become absorbed in his computer and had not noticed Lynsey standing behind him. He hated when she did that.

His heart skipped a couple beats when her silky voice came from just over his head, “Hi there. What up?”

It was a short minute before he responded. “We were talking about understanding Max earlier and I was just looking up what others say about understanding dogs and how to communicate with them. What I found is interesting. You want to read over my shoulder for a while?”

Lynsey didn’t bother answering as she pulled a chair from across the room and settled in. With her face almost resting on Henry’s shoulder and her honeyed breath on his cheek she said, “…sure.” It was most erotic.

Henry slowly scrolled the black lettering down the white monitor screen:

The screen said in part:
'It's important to understand what dogs are saying with their bodies, not only to know your own dog but to better predict what other dogs are doing.

To really read dog body language takes experience. We encourage you to watch your own dog(s) and others. Go to the dog park and watch dogs interacting. Watch different body parts (ears, tails, eyes, lips, hair, and overall posture) separately for a while. See if you can predict which body stances lead to which activities or outcomes.'

“Henry this is boring.” Her tone was of pure exasperation.

He quickly changed three pages of instructional data with a couple key strokes. He did leave one more paragraph that she skipped.

'If you find that your dog is "protecting" you, consider that your dog thinks of you as a valuable resource that he must guard, like a prized bone. Yes, he possesses you.
Sounds of Dog's 'Laugh' Calms Other Pooches Researchers: Canine Laugh Is Long Loud Panting Sound. Researchers at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service in Washington State say sometimes a bark is just a bark -- but a long, loud panting sound has real meaning.'

Maybe saying that Henry learned to speak and understand dogs is not entirely accurate. Understanding and just paying attention may be better words.

At times Max’s sounds are different. His hip movement is sometimes different when they were out for walks. At times Max would swagger while a normal walk was just that – a walk. At times he would poop in places that were off limits he always had a gleam in his eyes and would either wink or protest his innocents. He acted differently at different times of the day; when he was taken to the Vet, when being boarded out for a humans long week-end and when he knew being thrown into the lake for a bath rather then for play…. He was always different.

Max has developed a new trick while on his walks. He limps. At the beginning of the walks Max is full of energy and wonderment of the surroundings, sniffing, barking and enjoying life. As soon as Henry lets him know it is time to head back to the barn… Max limps. Mostly on his left front but when he forgets, the limp is on the right front. Two weeks ago Max could not remember so he dragged a rear foot. His brown eyes always become soulful and ears droop. Poor guy. Henry had been well trained so the walks are normally extended until Max agrees to go home.

Henry doesn’t have a clue what is going on inside Max’s head when they talk. Maybe it is just the different sounds of different words mean different things to Max and Henry.

Today walking Max was approached by Blackie the neighbors black Coonhound. They did their sniff, nipping and growling routine when Henry said, “Max HEEL” The command he knew to get his butt to his master and heel. The coonhound took off with it’s tail between it’s legs. Apparently 'heel' meets something bad to Blackie.

Chances are Max doesn’t have a clue either what is going on inside Henry’s head. Many times even Henry doesn’t even know.

BUT… whatever is happening between their collective ears, they get along nicely.

Earlier it was said that Max was a pussy-cat.

Don’t pass this alone but…. so is Henry.
     

       Web Site: www.haroldhester.com

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Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 9/7/2007
Dogs speak better than people: plus, they love unconditionally, despite ill treatment. Now that's love.

Beautiful. Well done, Harold.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 1/23/2006
enjoyed the read
Reviewed by Chrissy McVay 1/9/2006
Dogs truly do have their own language. I have one that winks, smiles, frowns and garbles like a parkeet, making sounds that sometimes mimic words...
Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher 1/9/2006
We enjoyed this story very much! Henry and Max seem to be a perfect match and obviously understand each other very well.
Birgit and Roger
Reviewed by Stacy Mantle 1/9/2006
Well done! "Dog language" is one of my most favorite languages ("cat" is another favorite). It's my understanding that, next to Mandarin Chinese and English, "Cat" and "Dog" are the two toughest languages to learn!

>^..^ <


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