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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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The Dog Decipherer

Owning a dog is like having a little fuzzy alien in your house. You can’t understand them, they can’t understand you, and there’s a lot of frustrated shoulder shrugging and ass sniffing going on while you sort things out.

Or maybe I’ve just been hanging around with the wrong sort of aliens. Your amount of alien ass sniffing may vary. Moving right along.

“Sadly, only a being with dewclaws, twelve teats, and three layers of back fur can understand such a request.”

Our dog doesn’t bark, under normal circumstances. She only lets out a ‘rowrf!‘ when she wants something. That’s where the alien part comes in. She can let us know when she wants something; she just can’t tell us what the hell it is that she wants.

Usually, she wants to go outside. A couple of years ago, I might have said, ‘Usually, she wants to go to go pee‘. That’s what we taught her — when you need to pee, bark at us. We’ll take you out for a nice long piddle. No problem.

That’s what we thought we taught her, anyway. It turns out she took the lesson as:

When you feel like a nice stroll, no matter what time of day or whether we’re eating or watching a movie or making out on the dining room table, then by all means, bark. Bark to your heart’s content, and we’ll stop whatever we’re doing to attend to your every furry whim.

That’s how it was, for a few years. She barks. I or my wife take her outside. Maybe she pees, and maybe she flops on the grass for a nice summery nap. The only way we could be bigger suckers would be if we rolled her over so we could rub her tummy and feed her Snausages while fanning her with palm leaf fans. And we’re the ones with the opposable thumbs. Sheesh.

Of course, the dog wasn’t satisfied with this arrangement. Eventually, she decided it would be a good idea to bark for any old thing she might want. And why not? We catered to one whim — though frankly, mostly to ensure the rugs would remain largely urine-free. Perhaps we’d kowtow to all of the mutt’s various demands, if only she bade us to. It was worth a shot, apparently.

So now she barks six or eight times a day. Not the way most dogs bark, like they’re screaming at the cat or mailman or mirror or whatever their target might be. No, our dog walks right up, looks you earnestly in the eye, gives a hint of a wag, and says:


Then she looks at you, expectantly, as though you might say:

Oh, I see, girl — that’s the ‘change the water in my dish and bring me back a biscuit’ bark. I’ll get on it right away.

When this sort of reasonable response fails to materialize, the mutt elaborates:

Rrrrrrawr. Grrurf! Mwrawr.

Sadly, only a being with dewclaws, twelve teats, and three layers of back fur can understand such a request. And seeing as how my wife has none of those things — and I only have two — the pooch is out of luck.

Still, you’ve got to give her credit for trying. And she’s just so damned sincere, like she really believes she can make us understand, that occasionally, we actually try. The least we can do in that situation is throw her a bone.

Which is never what she wants. So we throw her a chew toy. And a blanket. And a rubber ball. And a little rubber toy shaped like a steak that moos creepily when she chomps it.

None of these is ever what she wants, either. Possibly, she’s angling for a better brand of kibble. Or peanut butter and horsemeat milkshakes. Maybe some kid named Timmy is trapped in a well somewhere. Whatever.

So now, when the mutt mewls, we do what we always used to do — we take her outside. The difference now is — if she doesn’t shut up, we simply don’t bring her back in. Now there’s a message easy to get in any language.

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One Response to “The Dog Decipherer”

  1. kerry says:

    my cat is a bit like that. which gets her either thrown in the basement where her food, water and bed are located, or outside, because she will screech at the top of her lungs over and over and over again. her thing is, a lot of times, is that she wants us to watch her eat. don’t ask me why, she’s been like that since i got her about ten years ago.

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