It is my advised opinion that dogs understand human speech. Bear with me here.
We can all agree that dogs, smart dogs, can learn the meaning of many human words. An American dog can learn to sit upon hearing the command, “sit!” A German dog may even respond appropriately, because the command sounds similar to the German, “setz!” A Thai dog will not sit unless you say, “nang!” They are hearing these words and responding accordingly, but it goes further than that.
Dogs understand tone of voice as well as anybody. Any dog in the world will respond favorably to a pleasantly intonated, “good boy! Who’s a good boy! Who’s a good big boy!” By the same token, any aggressive dog in the world will respond cautiously to a furiously spoken, “gaaahh! I will fucking kill you! I will eat you for lunch! I will kill your whole fucking family!” Especially if the verbal information is accompanied by a puffing out of the chest, extension of the arms, hands and fingers, and a sincere charge in the dog’s direction, as though one were hungry and the dog were food.
Thai dogs are an interesting case in point. There are millions of them, they seem to have the run of the country. Thailand is a Buddhist culture, live and let live, accept and respect life where you find it. Thais, most Thais, will move to kill a mosquito that is biting them, but you will often observe that they immediately apologize for ending the mosquito’s life, placing their hands together and saying a silent prayer. Dogs they just leave alone by and large, or even feed them, the unattached, free roaming urban dogs, that is.
Thai dogs are a source of danger, Thailand is still a rabies country, get bit and get your shots as soon as possible if you know what’s good for you. People die all the time, although I’m pretty sure that the risk is reducing year by year, the government is taking steps, usually in the form of poison. It’s not really a problem though, because Thai dogs will generally leave you alone, maybe more alone than you are used to. They tend to ignore humans in a manner so complete that you may well imagine that you have become invisible. They live in their own little universe, which I call the Dogroverse.
The exception is mating season, dog mating season. It makes the dogs behave, well, like dogs. This can be quite a shock for Americans. American dogs are almost all fixed, which is a remarkable euphemism, as though something had been wrong with them. Giant, grey-bearded puppies, waiting for an handout. Thai dogs are almost all as nature intended them, so the mating season is a frantic orgy of competition and genetic transmission. The male dogs can become a little unhinged by the excitement of it all.
Even then, though, they respond to the content of human speech very well. A seemingly intrusive hominid may be treated to a toothful, snarling display, snapped at, and perhaps even bit if he’s not careful. But the male dog, even in the fullness of his chemical mania, will understand full well the properly phrased injunction, “back off! Or I’ll crack your jaw in two and crash out half of your teeth!” The dog may respond initially with confusion, in the form of a hasty retreat, followed by a kind of all-right-already look.
I have even on occasion reminded aggressive dogs that I was a Christian. We are a bloody people and it is a wise dog who learns to avoid making us angry.
Dogs have good memories too. A dog that has been so chastised, and understood the instruction, will never again advance closer than fifteen feet to the man or woman who has properly delivered the lesson. Unless, that is, the teacher is now speaking in loving tones and gently holding out a chicken bone.
It is also possible for humans to understand dog communications, but interpretation in this direction is often clouded by human emotion. A puppy who licks the face of a gentle human is universally hailed as a loving animal, when all the puppy is doing is requesting that we throw up his dinner.
Still with me? Well here’s the punch line. This kind of doggerel is occupying my mind these days in a desperate attempt to avoid the reality I see in America. Please God! Grant me frivolity! All it took was a Black president to put a substantial part of the United States over the edge. I mean, we were leaning, it was getting pretty bad, but Obama’s election made lots of people actually, certifiably insane. I mean, there’s an actual percentage of Americans who think Obama is the Anti-Christ! The fucking Anti-Christ! Not to mention: he’s like Hitler, he’s doing things that Hitler did; he should be impeached (no grounds offered); he’s a socialist, or a communist, or a fascist; he’s a One-Worlder; he was not born in America. Post racial my ass. Evidently, in most people’s minds it’s still 1850.