Maybe that proves how smart he is. That kid has set himself up with a sweet deal. He gets everything he wants, and without once having to bark at an intruder, glower at a recalcitrant wheely bin, or run for a ball.
Sometimes I wonder what he even does, other than look cute, and wriggle his tiny fingers in my fur.
If a cloud momentarily passes his brow, they all jump up as if electrocuted. One squark and it’s like the sinking of the Titanic. “Quick!“, they seem to be saying, running around, waving their arms. “Launch the lifeboats!”
Meanwhile – and here’s the point about a dog’s vocabulary – I must grasp not only human words, but also their hidden meaning. The “subtext”, to use the literary term.
An example: during the morning walk we tackle the big hill on the way home, and there’s always a point that Man says to Lady, “I think we should slow down. Clancy is looking a bit tired.”
This is a cue for me to pretend to sniff a lamp post so that Man can get his breath back.
Or it might be: “I think Clancy needs a drink”, which is my cue to take my time, slurping the water as slowly as possible, so Man can check the internet in case anything has happened in the five minutes since he last checked the ruddy thing.
Or it might be: “Clancy needs to go to bed”, which means “I need to go to bed.”
There are other problems with the Hungarian study. Why, for example, is vocabulary the sole measure of one’s skills?
I might be up the other end of the house, snoozing away, when Man says to Lady, “Would you like a pre-dinner nibble of cheese and biscuits?”
I immediately hear the word cheese. Cheese is the intercontinental ballistic missile of the English language. There’s something about the way it’s constructed that makes it able to cross large distances.
Perhaps it’s the plosive sound of the “Ch”, with which the word is launched on its journey, followed by the reverberating hum of the double “ee’s”, powering it along its flightpath, all ending with the sizzling sibilance of the “z”, representing the direct hit on its ultimate target, my earhole.
But here’s the thing, even without my language skills, I’d already be thundering up the hallway. My paws would detect the vibrations of Man’s feet, walking on the kitchen floor towards the fridge. My advanced dog nose would identify the smell of the biscuits being placed in readiness on the place.
And then there’s my advanced dog hearing, my ears rotating like tiny radar receivers, catching the opening of the fridge door, the sound of packets being moved as Man tries to locate the cheese, and then – oh glorious sound, like angels in heaven – the click of the cheese container being opened.
I am there, thrice there, sitting at Man’s feet, paws tidily before me, chin raised, eyes moist with hope – and all this a millisecond after he’d first formed the mere thought of eating cheese.
The more I think about it, when it comes to cheese, maybe I’m also psychic.
I love my nine-month-old human friend, I really do. I’ve only recently got to know him, but already I proudly stand guard, poised at his side, my muzzle facing out to the world, as if to say, “no-one is messing with this bundle of joy, not on my watch”.
OK, his vocab isn’t much, and neither are his ball skills. But give him time. One day, he’ll make the grade. One day, people will say, “you know what, that kid is smart. Almost as smart as a kelpie.”
Anyway, that’s my news. Until next time,
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