Do French Dogs Really Speak French?

A Smiling Silky Terrier

I was in France a while back, watching a lady walking down the street chatting to her poodle. The small mop of a dog was looking up, following her every word. And I thought – do French dogs really speak French?

I’ve wondered about this before. I sold a dog once to a Spanish-speaking family and they were amazed at how quickly their puppy picked up the language. I wasn’t so sure. My dogs are smart but I didn’t think they were that smart.

The clue came one night when I was making chicken, minding my own business. I noticed a burning sensation on the back of my neck; turning I found Shiela pinning me down with a clear, piercing intention: Give me a piece, give me a piece, give me a piece…….

Another day I tried an experiment. I said to Shiela, not really meaning it, “Hey, come here.” She looked at me, wagging her tail. Then I looked at her and with meaning said:

“Shiela! COME!” She trotted right over.

The more I thought about it the more it made sense to me — dogs don’t speak one language or the other. They listen to intention, not language. Doesn’t matter whether you speak Swahili or Chinese. They can perk up, responding to certain sound combinations. But they answer to intention, not language.

Of course, we answer to intention as well. Shiela knows that better than most. That is, Shiela and the tidbits she gets every time I make chicken.

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