Monday, March 10, 2008

A Dogtionary

One thing I've learned from living with Newton is that dogs have a much wider vocabulary than I had realized. It's not the case that retrievers only bark, hounds just howl, toys only yap, and basenji just yodel. Each dog produces a number of vocalizations based on its mood or the concept it wants to convey. I'm sure each dog has its own dialect, but here's a brief translation of some* of Newton's vocabulary.
  • Chuff: There are people outside the door and I'm not sure I like it.
  • Bark: There are people outside the door, and I don't like it.
  • Frustrated grumble. There are people outside the door, and I don't like it, but you've told me to be quiet, so this is all I can get away with saying.
  • Sleepy chuff. There are people outside the door, and I'm not sure I like it, but I'm too tired and comfortable to get up and chuff at the door.
  • Yip. Someone has knocked on the door, and they must be here to play with me, so let them in, let them in!
  • Sleepy yip: I'm asleep and dreaming about playing.
  • Whine: You're boring; play with me.
  • Agitated whimper: I can see a person or a dog outside the sliding glass door, and I really want to play with them.
  • Excited growl: I'm FRAPing or wrestling with Michael, and it's so much fun. Look how big and tough I am!
  • Angry snarl: That pit bull mix is actually trying to hurt me. I'll teach him not to mess with me. **
  • Suckle: I'm asleep and dreaming about being a nursing puppy.
  • Nearly ultrasonic chirp: You're leaving me home alone at an unexpected time. Don't go!
  • Howl: A fire truck or ambulance has just passed within 30 meters of me while running its siren, so I'm going to sing along. ***
That seems like quite a wide repertoire to me. I bet Newton would do very well on the Doggy Aptitude Test. At least on the verbal section.

* I'm sure I'm leaving out one or two vocalizations.

** I've only ever heard this once. It's not entirely compatible with Newton's persona.

*** I've only heard this twice. Alison, that lucky girl, has heard it thrice.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! That Newton is one lucky dog to have you two. :)

    ('s stepnup from MSP. :))