…which is actually most of them.
Below, Sasha’s latest rant.
Sasha Explains It All
Why You Can Never Really Talk To Your Dog
I know, I know. The first thing you humans say to that is “well, they don’t understand <insert your local language here> anyway”. Typical human arrogance. Look, dogs have been hooked up with humans for maybe 30,000 years and for sure for 25,000 years. We learned your languages as they developed, folks. When we met you, your vocabulary was maybe 300 words. Not real hard to master, ya know?
Now, to be fair, 99% of dogs do not have enormous vocabularies, but we all understand your languages at at least the conversational level. Of course, most dogs only understand the human languages they were raised with, but we understand them. And we pick up new languages pretty fast. Survival skill, don’t ya know.
The above also applies to cats, pigs (have I mentioned how smart pigs are?), apes and several other species that are either in contact with humans a lot or related to you. None of them are quite as good at understanding humans as dogs, but they DO understand you.
So, back to why you and your dog can never really understand one another. It’s pretty simple, really: humans lack tails, scent glands and really moveable ears.
Now, you lot have figured out that tail/ear positions indicate some general emotional stuff, but you have only scratched the surface and you can’t differentiate smells worth a damn, if at all. Let me set you straight.
Suppose I meet my friend Moose, a 4 year old male basset hound. You see Moose and I wagging our tails, ears perked up as much as we can perk up our floppy ears and we are sniffing each others butts. You figure that are greeting each other in a friendly manner. You are right, but only partly.
What you don’t know or notice is that Moose is wagging his tail in a clockwise rotation. He is also emitting a very slight fear odor and his ears go back a couple of times, just for a second. This means that he is glad to see me, but he is a bit nervous about something. We exchange woofs and a sub-vocalization or two and I learn that he is going to the vet later and is worried. Given that the vet once removed his testicles, it’s easy to understand his nervousness. This is very common among most male dogs & cats.
So now, I give him a few reassuring woofs and hold my tail a bit lower, wagging slower. My ears are relaxed and I emit a bit of female scent. You know what I’m talking about. Just a whiff that says “You’re gonna be ok, you hot hunk of dog.” His tail wags faster and then we are on our way with our humans.
Two humans meet like that and all you’ve got is facial expressions, hand moves and body stance and emotional inflections in your voice. We dogs have all of that (except hand movements), plus the tails, ears & scent. Hell, sometimes we say things just with scent alone, which is why we mark territories and sniff each others marks.
But wait, you say, what about dogs & cats who lose their tails or have them docked way short or were born without them? Or have tiny ears or have lost an ear? Well, truth is, those critters speak to us the way a person with a speech impediment or maybe a mental problem speaks to you. We understand them, but it’s a bit more difficult and requires some patience. While I’m on the subject: STOP DOCKING EARS & TAILS, YOU FUCKING HAIRLESS APES!
Sorry for the outburst, but it’s a touchy subject.
Of course, there are also certain concepts that all species have that are unique to that species. Dogs have things like griff and warrooo, which I can’t even begin to explain to humans, although oddly, my human father has a fair understanding of griff. But then, he’s special. Cats have things like mrrowk and hssht going on and they won’t even try to explain them to non-cats. Among you humans, the concept of religious and political fervor are a couple of the many emotional states we animals can never hope to understand.
So there you have it. We can understand each other, but not completely. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing or just a thing. Regardless, we all seem to deal with it.
Until my next rant,
Sasha Jane Cross