I’ve noticed this a few times in my life, most recently last week. As I was Cokering past a woman and and her dog, she leant over and pointed me out TO HER DOG. She said to the dog, “See that man on the unicycle?”
I don’t own a dog, and tho I do speak to my cats, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be caught dead doing what that woman did. Are there a lot of dog owners who forget that their pooches’ command of English is really limited? Or was this perhaps a modern Dr Doolittle or Mary Poppins?
What she did seemed so odd to me that I was speechless, unlike her dog. He turned to her and said, “Yeah, Linda. It’s the unicycle guy. I see him all the time. So what? Now let me crap in peace so we can go home.”
I’m not under any delusions that they understands the words, but they are reassured by the chatter. I’m a lot more comfortable using language than jibbering meaninglessly at them, and I think they recognise the patterns and rhythms of speech anyway. The beagle eagerly howls along with my singing and cello playing (yes, that says something about the quality of my musicianship).
The lady is probably bonded her dog and her natural impulse was to share her excitement about the uni. The Dog would pick up on her excitement by smell and a vocal exchange is a natural follow up to acknowlege mutual awareness.
INterspecies companionship is a very special thing that some creatures can do with no direct evolutionary benefit. Communication might always be an awkward point in such relationships, but is often possile on some level!
dude i hate it when people talk to animals as if there a person. I mean a little chat like get down of the couch or sumthin is ok but ive seen people that go way to far also. They act as if there ther dog is a baby or a little kid.
Some dogs show a surprisingly good understanding of language - certainly the language of tone and inflection, if not the actal words. Ruth’s rottweiler bitch can carry out quite complex instructions (“Find your ball and take it to Michael.”) I think the dog understands find, ball, and Michael and performs the actions in that order.
My dad has been very lonely since he lost his wife last year, and often talks to the dog for us to overhear. He won’t say directly to us what he’s thinking. Typical emotionally inarticulate midlands working man from his age group.
I don’t suppose the lady believes for one moment that the dog understands the word unicycle, but she knows that the dog will understand the favourable tone in her voice and not be frightened or angered by the unfamiliar sight.
By a similar thought process, when I’m riding (especially in a full face helmet) I always talk to the dogs, so they can hear my tone of voice and identify me as human and not a threat. You can only get the right tone in your voice by saying the right words. “Hello, good dog, you’re a good dog, aren’t you” works so much better than, for example, “Avocado, banana, castanets empiricism.”
Quite true. Dogs may like the foodstuff Spam, but certainly deserve something better than the verbal equivalent.
I happen to verbally abuse my cats all the time. But I do so in a tender voice. This allows me to work out my agressions against those who have slighted me, the creep who failed to follow the rules of the alternate merge for example, without upsetting my fine beasts. I will say something like, “Go to hell cat” in such a loving voice that they’ll happily come over for a chin rub.
A dog that I raised who recently passed away had an amazing command for verbal direction. Like Mikefule’s friend’s dog, she could be given a string of commands and follow them. Take X to so and so. etc.
She would rapidly learn new words and was strong and excitable. Words like walk, park, ride, even spelling these words, would have to be altogether avoided or the dog would go into a frenzy that was quite frightening to those who were not familiar with her.She was a pit bull-doberman mix.
My friend and I who shared care for her began using code, long and infrequently used words would replace common things that got the dog wound up.
“carbeurator” meant lets take the dog to the park, for example. It ended up being a poor choice and was no help either. From then on, whenever we were working on the VWs and had to say the C word, the dog would grab my pant cuffs and try to drag me into the vehicle.
Dogs may vary in their ability to comprehend verbal cues, and it may be more or less Pavlovian-type response, but they can use words as information on which to act, even when completely out of context.
I do this as well, much to the chagrin of my significant other. Our son is quite a talkative little fellow and he often wakes us up when we try to sleep in past his morning feeding time… so we have a talk over breakfast.
Me: Jasper, if you’re so hungry, how about I just shove a handful of kitty chow down your little throat? Would you like that?
Me: Perhaps if we starved you we wouldn’t have to change the litter box quite so often, what do you think about that?
Me: You like food? How would you like to hang out inside our refrigerator for the rest of the day?
Me: If you meow again I’ll twist your little kitty head until you can’t meow anymore!
Such a thread. Nothing about unicycles, but talking to your pet about unicycles maybe…
I have a rabbit and I speak to it in Danish, even though I’m Dutch. Im sure it understands me just fine and probably thinks in Danish back to me when she’s happy because I gave her crisps and cookies to eat.
I might have mentioned a unicycle to her, as the shed where I keep them is right next to the hutch. Sadly she can’t ride any.