If Dalmatians Could Talk - by John Sealander

Do your wish your dog could talk? Most of us do at one time or another. After all, if dogs could talk they could tell us where they hurt, what smells so good in the garbage and why they always need to go outside at 3AM on the nights when you are dog tired yourself. Be careful of what you wish for, however. If your Dalmatian could talk, you'd never hear the end of it.

An excited Dalmatian's distinctive high-pitched bark is hard enough to ignore. Just imagine if your dog had a voice. With the ability to have the last word, terms like "stubborn" and "willful" could no longer adequately describe your dog's true nature. Instead of the charming free spirit with a "mind of his own," you would be dealing with the unstoppable force of a small hurricane. The boss from hell who insists that you come in to work on Saturdays and always has something "important" to do whenever you're trying to beat the rush-hour traffic would have nothing on your average talking Dalmatian. If anything important to your dog, like dinner or a walk, was late or off schedule, you'd hear about it for the rest of the day. Patience has never been a virtue to a Dalmatian, but at least you can't hear what they really think when they're pouting as only a Dalmatian can.

A talking Dalmatian would let you know in no uncertain terms what the rules were around the house. You would soon grow tired of listening to their long-winded rationale for sleeping on the bed, drinking out of the toilet, eating broiled chicken breast instead of dry kibble and dozens of other items on your Dalmatian's wish list and just let them do whatever they want.

Not surprisingly, many Dalmatians have managed to accomplish all these goals and more without uttering a sound. With the power of speech, these resourceful, willful dogs would be unstoppable. Dalmatians would quickly become lawyers and captains of canine debate teams, before assuming their ultimate destiny as politicians. Bill Clinton could easily have been a Dalmatian in a former life. So could every Hollywood star and TV news anchor who got where they are today by looks and charm alone.

The very idea of a talking Dalmatian leaves me wondering why we so easily accept a huge laundry list of behavior flaws in animals that we would totally reject in humans. I can honestly say that Spot is my best friend, yet I would never tolerate a human friend that bosses me around the way he does. Such a demanding dog a Dalmatian can be. He wants you up and out of bed by 6:30AM each and every day. He wants to have at least two long walks each day, rain or shine. He wants you to eat your meals with him, and lord help you if any of those meals are five minutes late. He wants you to play ball with him for at least 30 minutes after each and every meal and, last but not least, we wants to sleep on exactly the same section of bed of the bed where you were planning on sleeping. In truth, I've always found Spot's willful nature a charming sign of canine intelligence. He certainly knows what he wants and usually has a plan for getting it. You can almost hear the gears turning in his doggie mind as he tries with almost boundless energy to manipulate you to do his bidding.

I'm not sure how charming Spot's "it's all about me" approach to life would be if he used words instead of soulful looks and playful slaps with his paw to get what he wanted though. A talking dog could quickly become just as insufferable as the rest of the people who chatter away with their laundry lists of demands and expectations. Sure, talking dogs could tell you where it hurts before you took them to the vet, but they could also tell you that you sucked for feeding them dry kibble instead of the scrambled eggs and sausage patties they really wanted.

It wouldn't take a talking dog long at all to join ranks with all the other people in your life who spend more time talking than listening. Like teenage children, or a coworker who wants your corner office, your dog would gradually refuse to take no for an answer. Instead of bringing you your slippers and curling up at your side, the talking dog would infuriate you by dropping hints that maybe it was time that you started sleeping on the couch so there'd be more room in the bed for him. You'd get a list of exactly what to buy at the grocery store and a running commentary on each of your neighbors as he pooped on their lawn.

So, maybe it isn't talking dogs we want at all. Perhaps, what we'd really like is people who didn't talk so much. If people had to use the cunning and resourcefulness of dogs to catch your attention, maybe we would all become a little more receptive to each other's needs. Spot has already proved to me that you can accomplish more with a well-applied nudge of the nose and a few wags of the tail than you can with a litany of angry words.

I'd love to know what my dog dreams about at night and why he routinely shuns certain perfectly nice dogs in the neighborhood. It would also be nice to know whether all the shivering that goes on when we go to the vet is genuine or just a scam to get a few more sympathy biscuits from the staff. I'm not sure I'd ever want the answer to these questions in words however. Any opportunity to talk would just give Spot another forum to demand more food, longer walks and a softer bed. Dalmatians are smart enough as it is. With the power of speech, we just might end up working for them.

If you enjoy these stories and would like to help this wonderful breed of dogs, please consider making a donation to Dalmatian Rescue of North Texas. Your donation will help Dalmatian Rescue continue to rescue and rehabilitate the hundreds of Dalmatians that are abandoned in North Texas every year. To help give a deserving Dalmatian a second chance, just click on the button to your left. You can use any major credit card to make your donation instantly and no matter what you choose to give, you can feel a little better knowing that you have helped a dog very much like Spot find the one thing it really needs: a home.

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