The second in a series to help you better communicate with your canine Friends.
¡Hola! I take it you’ve read the introduction and taken the first lesson in this series? If not, go do that now: the rest of us will wait. If you have, then we’ll press on.
As you’ll recall, we’re here because we’re interested in dogs—perhaps you have one in your home, perhaps you plan to have one soon. And as a loving, caring, responsible Belonging (the canine term for “people” or “humans”), you wish, of course, to learn how better to understand and converse with our Friends (the canine term for themselves). What we’ll learn in this and future installments is derived from my upcoming young adult science fiction novel, Lost Dogs (to be published in Summer, 2014).
This time out, let’s talk about about another type of creature you can bring into your home—or may already have. I’m speaking, of course, about cats.
Lesson #2: Merggy Mrows
As I mentioned in our introduction, much of canine vocabulary is short and descriptive. Hence, their word Mrow for felines of any type. Obviously, the word is derived from the most common vocalization that cats make, and like many nouns that dogs use, it is always capitalized.
In present-day, Western popular culture, cats and dogs are often depicted as being able to speak with each other, with the cats almost always presented as being more intelligent; a familiar trope is that they are natural antagonists. In actuality, dogs and cats find it extremely difficult to communicate, as they have separate languages, most components of which are non-verbal. This can lead to misunderstandings, sometimes with serious repercussions. To a dog, a lifted paw is often an invitation to play; to a cat, a lifted paw usually means that physical hostilities are about to erupt. Likewise, friendly purring can be mistaken for hostile growling.
In light of Ren and Stimpy, perhaps we should revisit that whole “cats-are-smarter-than-dogs” thing…
As mentioned before, dogs’ primary sense is smell. So would it surprise you that they have a word to describe how cats smell?
Merggy (MUR-gee [with a hard “g,” like “buggy”]). adjective. 1. Having an odor as or similar to that of a cat. Example: He caught a merggy smell coming from under the car, and sure enough, there was a cat hiding there.
To humans, most cats don’t have a distinctive odor, but dogs have a sense of smell far superior to ours, and they notice the scent of cats as plainly as we recognize the color red. Whether they care for that smell or not is up to each dog. Like some people, certain dogs let negative encounters with individual cats influence their opinion of all others they meet. Prejudice is not a uniquely human trait, as demonstrated by Buddy, the German Shepherd protagonist of Lost Dogs, and his companion Sally, a Beagle/Basset mix.
Buddy’s head yanks around. There’s a Mrow near, one he didn’t Scent before because it was behind him. It’s gray with black stripes and its ears are back and it slinks low, belly down, trying not to be seen as it creeps towards the pool. But Buddy hurtles towards it and it jumps and turns and darts, tail still behind it, zigging and zagging. It runs and Buddy chases it, barking No! No! No! No! and Sally’s running with him, throwing her head back and baying. She thinks it’s fun, but Buddy doesn’t, he’s angry with it, angry with himself, and the Mrow runs past where the collar would bite Buddy if he kept going, and Buddy stops and Sally stops, too, and she’s laughing.
I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! Buddy barks at the Mrow, as it slows and glares at them over its shoulder. The Mrow hisses once and creeps off, the tip of its tail twitching.
It was thirsty, Sally tells him. I could Scent it. It just wanted something to drink.
I don’t care, Buddy says. Mrows are bad. They kill for fun. I’ve seen them do it.
I hope you have enjoyed this lesson. Please visit again soon for the next in this series.