I knew that Debbie was a kindred spirit the first time she came over to meet the boys. She said, "Do your dogs talk?"
Well, of course they do. Toby never spoke much--he and I communicated instantly through longing glances at each other, and at tennis balls. But Boscoe and Riley are fairly verbal. They talk quite a bit, mostly about food ("Feed me!"--Boscoe.) ("I'm hungry! I'm just a little guy, but I'm hungry!"--Riley.) (" 'Little guy'? He's my size!"--Boscoe.) (And on and on.)
Riley also complains when Doug has the music up too high ("It's too loud!") and when I launch into one of my long-winded stories ("Lord, she can just prattle on and on!").
But all of this is a secret, of course. You don't want it getting out that your dog can talk, and, worse, that often when he talks he's putting you in your place with a drier wit than you or any of your friends. This is not something you want the world to know; the world might not understand.
"I'm serious. I'm calling the authorities if you don't take this thing off my head."
But Debbie asked in such a nonchalant way, as though it was a common thing for dogs to talk, that I easily confessed. Either I'm not insane, or we're both insane, or she had just cleverly tricked me into revealing my insanity. (Not all that hard to do.)
And then, quite by chance, two of the books I picked up to read this spring both involve talking dogs. One of them, "Nose down, eyes up," is about a dog named Jimmy. Jimmy's owner finds out that Jimmy not only can talk, but also is leading seminars for other dogs on how to behave and manipulate their humans. Jimmy is flat-out hilarious, and I ended up reading whole bits out loud to Doug, who now will never read the book because (a) he is not as enchanted as I am by other people's talking dogs, and (b) I already read him the best parts.
The second book is by Pete Nelson, a Minnesota guy, so I figured I should read it just to keep up (though it's hard; there are so many Minnesota and former Minnesota writers; it's amazing). It's called "I thought you were dead" (which is what the narrator's dog, Stella, says, whenever he comes home--dogs having such out-of-sight-and-hearing-and-smell, out of mind personalities).
Stella is not hilarious. She's aging, and wise, and terrified of thunderstorms, and while she's only a bit player in the book she is a great vehicle for showing the narrator's great capacity for empathy and love.
So now I'm thinking that with dogs coming out of the closet, so to speak, on their communication skills (and several of them have left comments on this post in the past--and cats, too), that maybe I'm not insane and I'm not so weird and go ahead, spill it! What do your dogs say?