I admit it. I talk to my dog.
People who don't have dogs think this is a foolish exercise. Experts will tell you that dogs can't understand your words, just your tone. These are the same people who will tell you that a baby only smiles because it has gas.
I happen to know that my dog has a vocabulary of 10 words. "Spike" (his name), "kibble", "biscuit", "chicken", "cookie", "meat" (I see a pattern here), "mommy" (his one true love), "daddy" (whom he tolerates), "sit" (his only trick), and, for some reason, "Chaucer". He understands and responds to these words as distinctly as you or I.
Talking to a dog is a liberating experience. Spike listens intently and never judges what I have to say. He does yawn on occasion, but I accept that not as a commentary on the content of our conversation but as a sign of his comfort with our relationship.
Conversation with Spike is not just a one-way street, either. He talks back. Not with words but with gestures, noises, looks, and posture. For example every night after dinner he will sit on the floor next to the sofa and wait for me to scratch behind his ear. If, for some reason, I don't begin in a timely manner he will poke me with his paw. "Hey, you. It's scratching time." If I fail to respond, the poking gets more intense. "I SAID it's scratching time." Then he'll move back a bit to be sure I have a good view and plop down on the floor with a pained expression ("I am a sad, sad dog.")
Lately we've been having talks about why I have to leave him in the morning to go to work.
"Spike", I'll say, "daddy has to go to work."
"I am a sad, sad dog."
"But Spike, I must work to make money."
"How can you be so cruel?"
"So I can buy..."
"Please...don’t leave me."
" 'Wenden thee then on thine pilgrymage, Sire .' "
"Was that by any chance Chaucer?"
"In truthe, woof, woof."