"Rrrr... rowr-wa rohr roah!"
My aunt's Brittney Spaniel, Libby, got disturbingly close to holding a conversation. She would yawn and human syllables would fall out as the exertion of fatigue contorted her mouth and throat.
Most of the time, it's less dramatic. My Dad's Springer, Toby, would just walk up to the Queen Mother and grunt.
"You already ate!" Mom would scold this beast constantly looking for a handout.
His predecessor Cinnamon possessed a progressive verbal dexterity. When she needed to go out, she would walk over to the gate separating upstairs from downstairs and sit. If you didn't notice her, she would let out a high-pitched "sheee." If you didn't let her out after that, a "warrf," "arf" and another "shee-sheee-shee" followed.
Cinnamon knew the language, and Mom knew Cinnamon. The Brittney would go into her whimpering act to go outside and Her Royal Momminess would stop the Royal Father from getting the door.
"She wants another bone!" Mom would say, referring to those "Bonz" treats Cinnamon would get after coming back in, snacks she preferred over her dog food. By this time we had her on Science Diet for her main course, and she hated it. We switched her food mainly because the vet recommended we buy it, and wouldn't you know he also sold it. Never do business with a huckster vet.
Sparky, the Dalmatian of my Grandfather and Grandmother Francis, didn't speak much because he was too busy eating. He would make his rounds among the house trash cans at least once a day, chewing up toilet paper and who knew what else. Bits of it would turn up on the floor.
"Did you leave that there?" my aunt would ask him.
Sparky would growl softly.
I firmly believe dogs develop cast-iron stomachs for all they can ingest, but Sparky ate enough hazardous materials to kill half a dozen people. The following is a verified list of what this dog ate:
- Toilet paper
- Any paper
- Birthday cake
- Cotter pins off Grandpa's Volkswagen beetle
- Wingnuts from an unknown source
- A whole can of motor oil -- we didn't have to worm him for a month after that
- A needle and thread
- Ice Cream
- Change off the dresser
- A 20-dollar bill, almost
- Christmas tree tinsel (which he couldn't pass -- don't even ask how we got it out)
To be sure, Cinnamon had her notorious dietary habits; she once ate an entire loaf of bread in the back of the car during a trip from St. Louis to Kansas City. Towards the end of her life, she loved to travel, whining to the Queen Mother to be taken along just about anywhere.
"She's just a big baby," Mom said when I ask why the dog was in the back of the car one day when she picked me up from work.
Towards the end of their lives, dogs will let you know exactly what they're feeling. And just like with humans, they're often gone before you can offer a last word. That's the way it was with Cinnamon and Toby. Not even a famous last bark.