Why Not This Idea: Dogs Can Talk For 25 Minutes Per Day
December 19, 2018 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Kelly Conaboy (previously and previously) writes: I was thinking about this last week. Why aren’t dogs able to talk for 25 minutes per day? They should be allowed. It’s not much to ask. This way you would be able to check in and see how their day was, among other things.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (54 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've decided to approve this plan as proposed and everyone's dogs will start speaking tomorrow.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 5:00 PM on December 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


I think DOGS should VOTE!
posted by cortex at 5:02 PM on December 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


Boy is this guy going to be surprised when he reads Vonnegut's Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:05 PM on December 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't know. I used to have a husky who "talked" and it didn't sound like compliments.
posted by ITravelMontana at 5:05 PM on December 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


The author of this piece is a woman.
posted by leesh at 5:06 PM on December 19, 2018 [11 favorites]


Monkey's finger curls.

The dogs are incapable of lying to spare our feelings.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:13 PM on December 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


Well, OK. Right away you know what the problem is. If dogs could talk for 25 minutes per day, would they be aware of the fact that they can only talk for 25 minutes per day throughout the rest of the day and feel trapped inside of their own minds until they’re finally allowed to briefly speak? Well, no. You’re in luck. No. Everything would be normal the rest of the time. They would just be their normal dog selves, until suddenly they were able to speak to you for 25 minutes.

This is clearly the idea of a one-dog person. I have two dogs, and if the way they whine when one of them gets a walk before the other is any indication, they will each absolutely FREAK OUT *daily* when one of them is just their normal dog self while the other one gets to be speaking English for 25 minutes. The obvious solution, having both dogs speak during the same 25 minutes, seems also sub-optimal: the dogs would just jealously talk over each other, and I'd have to just separate them and give each one 12.5 minutes of speaking time, which hardly seems enough.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2018 [13 favorites]


We have a dog with two different illnesses that don't play well together, and I wish to hell she could tell me what she needs some days.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:24 PM on December 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


I feel the author wants dogs to talk to soothe her anxieties, which seems unfair to the dogs.

Honestly, it might be better if humans were only allowed to speak for 25 minutes per day....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:26 PM on December 19, 2018 [22 favorites]


I mean, I get it; I wish my cats could tell me that they were ok and happy, and I’m sometimes haunted by the feeling that I’m failing as a pet owner and that they’d rather live different lives with someone else, but, really, that’s my row to hoe.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:31 PM on December 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


I love when Kelly Conaboy gets high and a little introspective.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:39 PM on December 19, 2018 [11 favorites]


I wish my cats could tell me that they were ok and happy,

I think while a dog might tell you this, cats would use their 25 minutes to offer a long series of shortcomings they have noted and ask you to take careful notes on the many improvements needed.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:42 PM on December 19, 2018 [30 favorites]


I think it would just be that final scene from flowers for algernon but with more screaming

Every day

At a random time
posted by schadenfrau at 5:51 PM on December 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


Given that our relationship with pets is based primarily on deception, I'd imagine that 25 minutes would be mostly spent on making them increasingly upset that you can't hunt for shit and yet you expect to be leader.

Honestly this seems like a bad idea. Your pets are not little furry humans. If you want to have a human relationship, there's lots to choose from. You could make some! I'm told it's very entertaining in the long run.
posted by Merus at 5:57 PM on December 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


If dogs could talk, I imagine they'd sound a lot like marmots.
posted by rodlymight at 6:01 PM on December 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


My dog would ask, for 25 minutes Where's the tennis ball? or, if he had current possession of a tennis ball, would demand Throw the ball. Throw the ball. He is often without one because he must take it everywhere until something interests him, another dog's pee, for instance, and he will drop it because of course I am made of tennis balls. He will obsess over a tennis ball on a high shelf, or in a cupboard.

Yeah, I have a Jack Russell Terrier. How'd you guess?

Actually a great dog who doesn't need to talk to communicate pretty well, and is good company.
posted by theora55 at 6:01 PM on December 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


Obligatory SNL skit
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:03 PM on December 19, 2018


Your pets are not little furry humans. If you want to have a human relationship, there's lots to choose from.

This. Do not anthropomorphize pets; they hate that.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:05 PM on December 19, 2018 [22 favorites]


I've been working from home the last few weeks, first time I've been able to do that, and I've finally, after more than 6 years together, figured out what my dog is trying to ask for when he has this particular little whining fit he has.

He sits straight up and just stares at me--always from a distance of 4-6 feet, if he's on the couch with me or something he'll get up and move away--and whines. But it's a real quiet whine, so soft you almost don't notice it unless you're staring right back at him. If you ignore him he'll give up after about five minutes and go take a nap, but I've got so much more time with him now.

Does he want to go out? Open door, no interest.
Does he want food? No interest.
Does he want pets? Accepted but does not solve.
Tennis ball? No interest. Etc etc etc. At this point he's clearly frustrated at how stupid I am.

So I pick him up. All is solved. Turns out this whole time that's been his signal for "pick me up and hug me." He gets picked up and hugged plenty, but evidently sometimes he requires it on his own schedule.

So now as soon as he gets in the stance I pick him up and we share a moment, then I put him down and he's perfectly happy to go right on back to normal dog stuff.
posted by phunniemee at 6:08 PM on December 19, 2018 [46 favorites]


This. Do not anthropomorphize pets; they hate that.

...not sure if...
posted by phunniemee at 6:10 PM on December 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


I dunno, I feel like dogs are pretty good at communicating at least most of the things that they need to get across. You only need to pay a little bit of attention. It would be nice if they could understand more though, things like, "We're just trying to clip your nails, not murder you," or, "The UPS man is going to come at least once a day for a while and it is seriously totally fine."
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:31 PM on December 19, 2018 [21 favorites]


...He gets picked up and hugged plenty, but evidently sometimes he requires it on his own schedule.

This, a thousand times. I have gotten used to our seizure dog with brain damage waking me up at night, sometimes several times, to demand attention and reassurance because she is frightened. It is usually right after she has come in through the dog door and then had a drink of water from her bowl. She announces her need for affection by placing her entire cold, sopping wet lower jaw on my face or neck. She does not require human speech to communicate this need to me.
posted by seasparrow at 7:16 PM on December 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


I asked my dog what kind of day he’d had, and he said “rough”.
posted by Segundus at 7:26 PM on December 19, 2018 [13 favorites]


I asked mine where her Frisbee was and she said, “roof.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:54 PM on December 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


If dogs could talk, I imagine they'd sound a lot like marmots.

Obligatory Far Side
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:17 PM on December 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


So, yeah, anxiety. I get it. I was so so so much more anxious about my dog's health than I am now with my kid's because my kid can talk and tell me what's wrong, but my dogs couldn't. And I had one dog with behavioral special needs and it would have been great if not only he could talk to me a little, but also for him to understand what I was saying.

My old coonhound, however, would be the canine world's most boring conversationalist. "Do you have any food? I'm hungry. Have I told you how hungry I am? Absolutely starving. Can I have some food? Can I? Can I? Is that food that you have there? In your hand? No, the other hand. Can I have that?" Etc etc etc.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:36 PM on December 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


Jesus christ. Dogs *can* talk. If you can't understand them it's because you don't know the language of the heart.

Because dogs talk with their heart.

It shines right out of them, and when you listen to them, and talk to them, and carouse with them, and pull their tail just a little bit, their eyes shine brighter and brighter, they become happier and happier, and they want to play, and they want you to hug them, and they want to jump into the water, and run around like mad, and careen, wearing a huge dog-smile.

Because dogs are happy.

~~~~~

Dogs are normal.

Dogs are not fucked up in the head like cats are, and they'll tell you that, too, not in a mean way, because dogs aren't mean, but just in a matter-of-fact way, stating the obvious. "Cats are fucked up in the head." they say, and they are right.

~~~~~

The more you listen to dogs, and talk to them, the happier they become, to the point their hearts almost explode, right out of their eyes, and they turn in circles, and they make whining noises deep in their chest, involuntarily, and they'll get so excited that they might pee on your shoes.

Dogs are always ready to go for a ride.

Dogs are always ready for a treat.

Dogs understand that farts are funny.

Dogs always love you. And they tell you so, non-stop, in a thousand ways, if you'll just listen.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:51 PM on December 19, 2018 [17 favorites]


My dog would say, “I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. This poop is delicious.”
posted by ilovewinter at 8:52 PM on December 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


I want to be reincarnated as dancestoblue’s dog, like, now.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:04 PM on December 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


I mean, I'd be pretty psyched if dog owners could listen to other humans for 25 minutes a day...
posted by ethical_caligula at 10:04 PM on December 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Dexter's Laboratory cartoon had an episode where his dog kept barking at a piece of his equipment. To find out what was going on, he gave his dog a translating machine. The dog ran up to his machine yelling out "The thing! The thing! Look at it! It's a thing!" It kept the voice machine on afterwards and no one in the family seemed to notice, mainly because the dog was saying pretty much what you would expect.

I'd be more interested in hearing the unexpected things, or things we might not be willing to face. "I'm in a lot of pain," or "Staying at home alone all day is unbearably boring. My life existence is like being tortured daily." Sorry if that took a turn toward the dark side, but I think some pet owners don't really pay attention to what the dog is going through. The article seemed to me to be similar--more interested in what the dog has to say about the owner, than what it might say about itself.
posted by eye of newt at 10:12 PM on December 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!
posted by ryanrs at 11:25 PM on December 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


this would be more like dogs speaking for 30 seconds and me sobbing loudly for 24.5 minutes bc a pupper said HI HELLO I LOVE YOU FRAND
posted by poffin boffin at 12:17 AM on December 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


I already know that most of what my cats would say all day is "daddy" in different tones and with different attitudes. Like as an acknowledgement, a command, a description, etc. But it would be amazing if they could tell me what was wrong when they weren't feeling well. I can always tell when something is wrong and I can sometimes make educated guesses about what it might be, but wow it would reduce the guess work if they could just say "I ate a shit ton of string and now my tummy hurts."
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:48 AM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


and they turn in circles, and they make whining noises deep in their chest

My Mum’s dog Mindy (here pretending to be a wee rug) is one of the joys of my life. She’s a little furry thing who thinks she’s a Big Dog. She has a surprisingly deep bark which she unleashes on passing Alsatians and the like, much to the a/bemusement of said dogs and owners. I don’t need a translator to know she’s saying “Don’t even think about fucking with my human, yeah?” When I was living at home again for a while a few years ago and spent quite a lot of time in bed she’d come and lie on my tummy looking into my face. I used to say to her over and over “Mindy, what am I going to do?” I’d have loved her to be able to talk then. Although I knew just by her lying there instead of on her favourite spot on the back of the couch that she was telling me she loved me. When anyone comes to my Mum’s door, as soon as you ring the doorbell or turn the handle, you hear this ferocious bark from inside as she comes to see “Who goes there??” But when it’s me and I see her through the glass and I call out her name she immediately starts whimpering and starts turning in a million circles and when I get through the door she runs round my feet and offers herself up for scritches and I hear her little heart say “it’s yooooooouu!!” I know my husband loves me and my parents love me but no one else has ever let me know how ridiculously fucking EXCITED they are just to see me walk through a door. If she could talk I’d just want to make sure she understood how much I love her and how grateful I am that she’s my Mum’s companion, and that she works so hard to keep her safe.
posted by billiebee at 3:43 AM on December 20, 2018 [14 favorites]


"It's an old legend that on Christmas Eve at midnight, all the animals fall to their knees and speak, praising the new-born Jesus. Back in the winter of '69, my dad was serving a short time for a DUI and I don't know where my mom was...Anyway, I was home alone Christmas Eve and I stayed up extra kind of late to see if my dog Buddy would talk, and he did. I don't remember his exact words, but that's not important. What-- What matters is that a 7-year-old boy experienced his own personal epiphany. What's my point? Well, it's that Christmas reveals itself to us each in a personal way. Be it secular or sacred, whatever Christmas is, and it’s many things to many people, we all own a piece of it. It's like... Well, it's kind of like Santa's bag. Inside, there's a gift for everybody. My Christmas wish for you tonight: may your dog talk. Good night, Cicely. Merry Christmas."
posted by MrVisible at 4:48 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


In City, the dogs do evolve to talk, and they then take over with a non-violent vegetarian society that the last remaining humans on earth can't deal with. So they (the humans) all leave.

Be careful what you ask for...
posted by COD at 5:22 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Would you want to lose 25 minutes of each day giving aliens therapy in their language only to immediately forget what happened? Kelly, that's not love.
posted by yaymukund at 6:05 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I feel the author wants dogs to talk to soothe her anxieties, which seems unfair to the dogs.

Can we please, please not have another Emotional Labrador thread?
posted by The Bellman at 6:33 AM on December 20, 2018 [18 favorites]


ಠ_ಠ
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:36 AM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: ridiculously fucking EXCITED
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:38 AM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I would love for these girls to talk even just once. I mean, I know they're mostly just saying, "Treats now, mama?" but they probably have a few other things that I'd be interested in knowing, like whose noseprints are on the window despite them not being technically able to reach the window, and such.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:52 AM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


But when it’s me and I see her through the glass and I call out her name she immediately starts whimpering and starts turning in a million circles and when I get through the door she runs round my feet and offers herself up for scritches and I hear her little heart say “it’s yooooooouu!!” I know my husband loves me and my parents love me but no one else has ever let me know how ridiculously fucking EXCITED they are just to see me walk through a door. If she could talk I’d just want to make sure she understood how much I love her and how grateful I am that she’s my Mum’s companion, and that she works so hard to keep her safe.

This made me cry a bit (in a good way) because I felt exactly the same about my in laws dog. My husband, family and friends love me and express that in varying ways but no-one other than my in laws dog has ever acted like that, so excited to see me he might explode. And apparently accepting of what must have seemed to him an extremely erratic visiting schedule, just always happy to see me because he loved me and he knew I loved him. And he died last Christmas, so now I'm crying but also happy that I got to spend time with him, be loved so perfectly and enthusiastically and to love him in return.
posted by *becca* at 7:23 AM on December 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


More directly on the subject, I don't think he would have been much of a conversationalist, probably mostly focusing on when we might go for a walk or whether I had anything for him to eat, so I think I'm fine without him being able to talk, he could convey his wishes well enough for what he needed (even if that didn't get him as many walks or treats as he would have liked).
posted by *becca* at 7:25 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


All right, all you smug "but dogs can tell us what they want!" people, please come over to my house tonight, when I expect for the sixth night in a row, my old dog will wake me up in the dark of the night a minimum of five to six times by standing next to the bed and whimpering. She doesn't display this behavior during the day or evening, only after bed time. She doesn't seem to be soothed by going outside, getting a drink of water, being offered her dinner she didn't finish, getting extra dog biscuits, getting petted and ears scritched, having me sit up on the couch while she wanders around for half and hour, but she really does seem to want something.

I'll sleep while you guys "pay a little more attention" than I guess I've been able to.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:30 AM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I would really like to know what is up with the whole "slurping up your own vomit" thing? Like, does it taste good to you? Or is there some kind of logic like "that stuff is supposed to be in me and accidentally got out so I better put it back"? Or "I'm going to be in trouble if Human finds that, better clean that up quick"?

cats would use their 25 minutes to offer a long series of shortcomings they have noted and ask you to take careful notes on the many improvements needed.

Cats have already created their own language for speaking with humans, they are only known to meow at people. It is up to the human to infer the meaning by inflection and context which somehow I have been able to do because we will frequently have extended conversations with each other.

"Meow!"

"What's that?"

"Meow!"

"Well yes, of course, meow, but what else?"

"Meow!"

"No, you already had your cat treats today, you have to wait til tomorrow."

"Meow!"

"I said no."

"Meow!"

"I hear you saying 'meow', but how do I know you actually mean 'meow'?"

And so on. It's very important to talk seriously with your cat, otherwise they assume you think they are less important than the other humans and they poop on your bed. And don't meow back, that's just patronizing.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:01 AM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


man, we really are a high-class, sippin' tea with our pinkies out web community! we almost made it to fifty comments without a "where are my testicles, Summer?" anyway I think we project too much of our emotional needs onto dogs and it's not great for us or them, fight me
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:04 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Squeak Attack, I hate to be a bummer in a mostly upbeat thread, but everything in your description points to the fact that your dog probably has Sundowners. So yes, she actually is communicating to you what is wrong with her, which is that she has the dog equivalent of Alzheimers and is frightened and confused anew again for the first time every few minutes. If you check my own earlier comment upthread, you will see that we endure this as well, and in eponymous fashion it mostly happens at night. We just try to love her the best we can, and have decided as long as she can move around and be happy during the day we will just put up with it for the time being.

Although a combined gabapentin and valium cocktail (we do one or two pills of either, or mix and match as appropriate) has done wonders for us. We've gone from dozens of night time incidents to just one or two (or none) at night. In fact, as I wrote earlier, the only time she is disturbed is when she gets up to go outside and then drinks water-- because that is the only time she is conscious at night. It has been a big improvement for our quality of life-- and hers-- since we started doing this. Your situation sounds so similar to ours that I share this information in hopes that it will help you or others reading this thread.

Daytime has its own complications, because she is a dog and forgets that she ate five minutes ago so she (being a dog) decides that she must be hungry right now.

So, best wishes for you in dealing with this situation, which we know only too well.
posted by seasparrow at 10:12 AM on December 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Hey, Squeak Attack, it sounds like both you and your doggo could use a great big hug right now. You sound like a very loving dog parent.
posted by meese at 10:49 AM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


And he died last Christmas, so now I'm crying but also happy that I got to spend time with him, be loved so perfectly and enthusiastically and to love him in return.

Ok well that just broke my heart. He was a good boy, yes he was. *hugs*
posted by billiebee at 11:03 AM on December 20, 2018


I asked mine where her Frisbee was and she said, “roof.”

I asked mine who the greatest batter of all time was & he said "Ruth!"
Which is just ridiculous; everyone knows it's Ty Cobb.
posted by scalefree at 4:18 PM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


When I asked mine, he said, "Ted Williams."
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:06 PM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


My dog made some joke about "sportsball" and pretended he didn't know which game had batters in it but I bet he's secretly a Yankees fan
posted by moonmilk at 7:53 AM on December 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ok well that just broke my heart. He was a good boy, yes he was. *hugs*

Thank you. He was the best boy in the world.
posted by *becca* at 9:08 AM on December 28 [2 favorites]


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