I was watching a show a while back. A Silky had one paw resting on his owner’s knee, intently looking up and listening to every word his mom was saying. Did he really understand all the words?

Another time, I was in France, watching a lady walking down the street and chatting to her poodle. The small mop of a dog was looking up, following her owner’s every word. It struck me – do French dogs really speak French?

I’ve actually wondered about this for a while now. I sold a dog once to a Spanish speaking family and they were amazed at how quickly their puppy picked up the language. My dogs are smart but I didn’t think they were that smart.

The clue came one day when I was in the kitchen while George was eating an early lunch. I watched Shiela pin him down with a clear, piercing intention: Give me a piece, give me a piece, give me a piece……

Another day I tried an experiment. I said to Shiela, not really meaning it, “Hey, come here.” She looked at me, wagging her tail. Then I looked at her and with meaning said:

“Shiela! COME!” She trotted right over.

The more I thought about it the more it made sense to me — dogs don’t speak one language or the other. They listen to intention, not language. Doesn’t matter whether you speak Swahili or Chinese. Sure they can perk up, recognising certain sound combinations.

But they answer to intention, not language.

We answer to intention as well. Shiela knows that better than most. That is, Shiela and the tidbits she gets every time George eats chicken.

Comments are closed.