Thursday 21 June 2012

Le chien

This is our dog. I suppose he has learnt to pray and be thankful for all that is good in his life. We got him from a dog shelter some years ago where apparently he was found roaming the streets.

He is difficult to live with but with patience we’ll all learn to adjust. At least he is not as vicious and calculating as my demon cat.

The thing about this dog is that he has learnt French. Yes … you heard me right. He has learnt French.

We have one of those teach yourself French DVD Video which we play over and again on TV to learn various phrases. As we sit there repeating what is said on TV the dog sits on the carpet watching intently.

I’m sure he’s listening carefully and getting the different intonations and accents which so enrich the French language. You can see his ears twitching when certain words are pronounced slowly by the woman on TV.

“Bonjour Monsieur Dupont. Ou est l’hôtel Majestueux?”

Which I’m sure is very helpful and reassuring in case our dog ever gets lost in Paris and needs to find his way back to the hotel.

The thing is … I don’t know whether, in his head, the dog is pronouncing the words correctly, because, he has actually never said them out loud.

It could be that in his head the words are all distorted and garbled up because he pronounces them with a doggy accent. You know … it’s just like you or me trying to speak a foreign language. Our English, American or Australian accents would not pronounce the French, Italian or whatever language words as a native of those countries would. It takes a special skill to speak a foreign language just as a local does.

So how do I know if in his head our dog is pronouncing the French words properly if he never says them out loud like you’re supposed to on the Video?

But one thing I’ve noticed since he joined us in learning French by DVD. His bark has taken a distinctively French timbre as of late.

He no longer goes “Woof Woof” to scare cats away from our garden. His bark is a more elongated “Hein hein hein woooof woooof” as if to say “Oh zut alors! Qu’est ce que c’est ca?”

I’m not sure the itinerant cats roaming our garden understand him anymore.


  1. It reminds me of a story I had to read in French class (originally it was in French). The gist of the story is that a dog orders a beer, one of the other diners is amazed, and the waiter says that it is amazing he ALWAYS gets a steak dinner with his beer, but not this time.

  2. What a lovely story Athanasius. Thank you for visiting me again. We look forward to many return visits and comments too.

    God bless.

  3. Victor, you need to get the flash cards out and practice mouthing the words with your dog. It's really important that you don't let him develop bad habits as they can be difficult to break and speech therapy is so expensive. It's really quite embarrassing to have a dog with a speech impediment, especially if he spits out his syllables with drools of slobbery saliva. Dry cleaning is also expensive.

    Oh, and you need to be able to hear what he's saying to make sure he's not picking up any naughty words. Dogs see in black and white but their language can be quite colourful.

    See, I can be serious, Victor. And helpful, too:-D

    God bless, Victor:)
    PS. Are you regretting the comment where you said you hoped I'd come back often, yet??:-D

  4. Hi Vicky,

    I'll never regret saying I hope you come back here often. Your comments brighten up this place and I have a suspicion readers come here to read your comments rather than my posts.

    My dog can be naughty in thoughts as well as deeds. The other day I was cleaning his area in the garden (we allow him his area) and he looked at me and thought "That's great. I get to poo where I want and you get to clean it up. Who's the master now?"

    I'm sure if he could talk he'd say it in perfect posh English pronouncing every word correctly. I've been told he is a dog of good breed. He is a genuine mongrel.

    God bless, Vicky.

  5. Hello Victor
    Very funny post. Don't be disappointed he's not fluent yet. Remember when we learn to speak our first language it takes a lot of listening and understanding before we utter our first words accurately. Or maybe he'll start miming à la Marcel Marceau. Quel magi-chien! (sorry, appalling French pun)
    God bless

  6. Greetings Kee,

    How wonderful to see you visiting me again and commenting too. Thank you. It's great to see you here.

    I'm so pleased you liked my post. My dog may not be a mime artist but he's certainly a magicien. He produces more poo than he eats! I know, I have to clean it up.

    God bless you Kee and your family. Hope you're all keeping well.

  7. haha..we got our very smart puppy from the shelter 5 days ago. he is very very smart. he speaks English. I asked home what sand paper feels like and he barked, "rough!"

  8. That's really brilliant Annmarie.

    It must be lovely to have a puppy. What breed is he?

    God bless.

  9. And he's not even a French Poodle! Speaking of French Poodles, they are very bright and when I was young we taught ours a few commands in both French and English. Likely, it was the intonation of our voices but it was still pretty funny and so is your story!

  10. He DOES look like he's praying, Victor :) Learned that from you no doubt! Praying for the demon cat, maybe?

  11. Hi Mary,

    That's the dog's favorite pose. And he did it without training of any kind. Shortly after we got him from the dog shelter, once he settled down to the new environment, he sat on his stomach and held his head in his hands. I quickly got the cell-phone and took this picture.

    Now he does it all the time and stays like that, probably sleeping, for a long time.

    Love the story about your French poodle. Now here's a question: Do dogs bark with an accent? That is a French poodle in a French accent, an English bulldog in an English accent, a German shepherd (Alsatian) etc ...

    God bless.

  12. I wish I had some clever remark after reading all of these comments, but I'm too busy chuckling. The post, as well as what everyone has said in response, make up a super good tonic of brightness in the darkening world around, n'est pas? (which might be poor grammar and may mean gurgly pickles for all I can remember of college french 243 years ago...)

  13. Hello Nancy,

    How nice to see you here. And I'm so glad that you're chuckling. I hope we brightened your day a little.

    Please call again. We'd love to see you.

    God bless you Nancy.

  14. We had a dog who used to sing along with us the hymns after the family rosary. good dogs go to heaven?

  15. What a clever dog Remedia. It's so lovely to have a dog as a companion. Ours can be a little difficult, being from a dog shelter, but we wouldn't do without him.

    I wonder if dogs go to Heaven.

    God bless.

  16. A breeder I know got a ten year old Finnish Spitz from Finland for stud purposes. He had to learn basic Finnish words to command the dog, but also taught the dog English words. One day some Finns came to visit and the dog was just thrilled to hear people talking a language he recognized. Dogs are way smarter than people realize and I don't know what I'd do without mine. You're lucky you have a bi-lingual dog now. Maybe he'll jump up and down if you have some Frenchmen visit.

  17. That's brilliant Barb. I didn't realise dogs can master two languages at the same time.

    I suppose to them it is not two languages but just words.

    God bless.



God bless you.