CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Saturday, 24 March 2007

English as a second language

The delectable Holly HoundOK, I'll admit that like most "parents" (whether the "kids" have hair, fur or otherwise), I'm biased about my doggie's beauty and brains. Even so, I am still surprised by her abilities now and again and, especially her understanding of English.

This may have been cheeky on my part, but having an "English speaking" dog (OK, she speaks dog), in Spain, I felt, was a means to retain sole control and, would be an additional guard dog deterrent feature. Other people might feel more uneasy when they don't understand a bloody word I'm saying to her.

It also helps prevent them discovering that about the worst they would get from her is severe licking and a few whacks from a wagging tail!

No this wouldn't work in tourist areas, but up here it does.

We do use "sit" for "sit", which most folk will recognize, but the few other commands we have attempted to learn, mostly, use non-standard English words too for additional "WTF" effect. In reality, this was her idea, because she simply refused to have anything to do with the usual words, but I eventually cottoned on to the plan. Truthfully, most of what understands, she's learned herself through osmosis.

The uncanny bitch even knows her left from her right and the respective words, which not a few humans have considerable trouble over.

Anyway, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, we have bread delivered daily. This is great, but a whole loaf (really only a large roll) is actually too much for me.

As I consider the pointed ends to serve a similar purpose as the handles on a Cornish pasty - i.e. they're there to keep your fingers clean, not to eat, what I do is to cut slices from the middle of the bread and the knob ends become "treats" for the dog.

No, it's not just a case of using her as a K9 waste disposal unit - though, mostly, she is - bread really is pretty much her favorite treat.

We have even technically termed these left over pieces, "dog ends."

So, this morning, I'd placed one of these "dog ends" on the kitchen table, but not given it to Holly. It was in reach and, most dogs are very good at stealing food. Nope, she hadn't been given it, so she didn't touch it.

She certainly knew it was hers, guarded it and did have a few sharp words with a couple of cats who got too close to it, but that's all.

I was making coffee at the time and could see the child-like excitement growing in her, so without looking round nor indicating at anything, I just said to her, "Is there something you want? Show me!"

With that, she stands up and places her two front paws on the edge of the table, no more than 3 or 4 inches from the bread and nodded her nose towards it, before looking up at me with those huge, brown pleading eyes.

And she still didn't touch it until I gave it to her.

Nah, any resemblance to obedience here is purely coincidental.

Obedience is not something I've ever forced on her, since a) I'm too much of a pushover and b) she has such a wonderful spirit that I didn't want to break (she's so smart and independent, I don't think I'd be successful anyway). But, as with many non-native English speakers, I'm coming to the conclusion that her comprehension of the language is close to surpassing mine!

Speaking of smart doggies, what about this one who took himself to hospital? Honestly, the story's enough to bring tears to a glass eye.

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