Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Can dogs communicate? Absolutely. Mostly, it's non-verbal communication. But that's okay. Most human communication is non-verbal, too. When it comes to verbal communication, I use words. Bao barks.

But barking isn't the same thing, people say. Actually, it is. It's communication, clear and concise. Different barks convey different messages. Someone's at the door. I need to go out. Where have you been? And of course there's a whole separate set of barks for dreaming. Right now Bao is dreaming about the two very large dogs who've just moved in down the street. I can tell.

When Bao is happy, he purrs, his little body literally vibrating with contentment. These soft, throaty, chortling sounds are sometimes mistaken for growling by people who don't know him, or who are unfamiliar with this Shih Tzu trait. Bao has also perfected something that sounds like Mmmm? It means, Haven't you fogotten something? and usually refers to food. Very occasionally, he growls, mostly when something frightens him.

Quite a repertoire, when you stop to think about it. In fact, I know people in Australia who vocalize much less frequently and are harder to understand. And other people who talk continually, but never seem to say anything.


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