If only they could speak … ?

Posted by on Nov 14, 2011

If only they could speak … ?

Does anyone remember that James Herriot book, ‘If Only They Could Talk’? Or the children’s books about Doctor Dolittle, the vet who could hold a conversation with any animal he met?

I don’t you about you, but I talk to my kitty and doggie clients all the time. A running monologue, if you will, since they can’t exactly hold up their end of the conversation … I imagine that their bright eyes and cocked heads mean that they are listening intently, and are trying to respond to me. I used to sit a Husky who would sing to me, in response to my questions – we would have lovely after-dinner duets (miss you every day, Djinn).

Sometimes I do think: “If only you could speak to me!” This is especially the case when they are feeling out of sorts, or looking unwell. I wish that they could tell me exactly what was wrong with them, and what I could do to help them. I’m sure vets all wish they were real-life Doctor Dolittles! It must be a hundred times harder to be a vet, than a doctor for humans – at least you can ask a human: “Is it a dull ache, or a shooting pain?”

Most of the time, though, I think it’s probably a good thing that our cats and dogs can’t articulate what’s on their minds. We humans like to imagine that our puppy or kitten enthusiastically greeting us at the front door with wagging tail and excited panting, is doing so because he is overjoyed to have us back in his company! What if he is really thinking: “Gotta pee, gotta pee, go clean my litterbox now!” or: “Dinner lady is here! Time for dinner! Hooray for food!”

Not quite such an endearing scene then, eh? :)

I suspect part of the reason why we love our animals so much, is precisely because we can project our own thoughts onto them. They don’t argue with us, contradict us, sass us … (I know some parents who wish their kids would be like that!) So I shall try to be content with learning more from their canine and feline body language, and stop wishing I were Doctor Dolittle!