Maggie has a lot to say, if only we knew what it was
Until we got Maggie, our new lab puppy, I’d always assumed the phrase “to dog cuss” referred to chastising someone the way you would a bad dog.I stand corrected.I’m now convinced that “dog cussing” is what Maggie is saying to me from her kennel between 5:45 a.m. when she awakens and 6:15 a.m. when neither my wife nor I are willing to drag ourselves from under the warm covers and finally let her out.It’s not barking. She doesn’t bark. There’s no “woof, woof.”It’s more like the dog on the Scooby Doo cartoons.”Arrrugh, rugh woe rugh woe.”
Actually the inflection and even some of the sounds are not dissimilar to how my daughters sounded years back when they were young teenagers trying to determine just how far they could push their dad.The word that comes to mind is whiney, as in “to whine.” As in, “I don’t understand why I can’t get my belly button pierced when all my friends are getting theirs pierced.”Only what I imagine Maggie is saying is, “Hey, you big hairless wonk why is it I have to sit in this kennel why you two get to snuggle up under a warm down comforter.”Hey, are you listening to me? I’m talking to you.”Dammit, get your fat butt out here and let me outta here. I’m ready to turn some snow yellow.”It’s not like she’s clawing at the door of the kennel.I’ve snuck a peek. No, she’s sitting in a relaxed position, one paw draped over the other just sort of talking through the front door of the kennel. “Arrugh, rugh, rugh, woo, ragh, rugh, ragh.”
Which translates to something like, “And another thing, you have got to do something about the food. The stuff you’re feeding me tastes like crap. Hey, I’m a dog and I know what crap tastes like.”You don’t think I know you’re eating the real food. What have you got to do around here to get a scrap of meat?”She’s the same way if we’re on a road trip.Maggie’ll be in the back looking out the window going, “Arrugh ragh ragh rugh rugh rugh arag.”I don’t know what she’s commenting on. Maybe my driving.There’s an old “Far Side” cartoon of a guy talking to his dog. It has two panels.The first panel is titled: What we say to dogs. It shows a man scolding his dog. The word-balloon says: “OK, Ginger! I’ve had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage or else.”
The second panel is titled: What dogs hear. The drawing is exactly the same but this time the word balloon says: “Blah blah GINGER blah blah blah blah blah blah blah GINGER blah blah blah blah blah blah.”There’s a good bit of truth in that. But I also know Maggie, and our older lab, Boone, have vocabularies that exceed just their names.For example, in addition to basic commands such as sit and stay, they know exactly what is meant by words like “oops.” If I’m in the kitchen and I utter “oops,” it means free food on the floor.Boone, by the way, is nonvocal – as in never, ever barks. Then again, as the patriarch, he sleeps on a bed in our bedroom and rides up front with me when we’re on road trips. Which could be what Maggie’s commenting on when she’s in the kennel going “Arrugh ragh ragh rugh rugh.””Dammit, this is age discrimination. You got me in this stupid pen and the old dog, the one by the way with the flatulence problem, is sleeping at the foot of your bed.”You people just don’t get it.”Jim Morgan writes a Tuesday column. He can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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