Many otherwise apparently sane scientists believe that we can, in fact, communicate with other species, if we only take the time to learn their “language”. That they communicate with each other is not in dispute. Think of the “songs” of the humpback whale; the clicks and whistles of dolphins; the various sounds that elephants make.
Dog training is based on the idea that dogs can understand what you’re saying, or what you want–if not the actual “meaning” of a word as we understand “meaning”. So I’ve put together a list of the most common communications I have with my dogs, one of whom I’ve had for six years, the other for nine. We’ve had a lot of time to get to know each other.
Fakename to dogs: Come.
Dogs (with sad and mournful looks): We believe you are speaking to us, because you are looking at us and using That Voice. However, we believe you are speaking Polish. No one ever taught us Polish. It’s not our fault.
Fakename to dogs: Stop digging!
Dogs: There you go with That Voice again. We do get the part where mostly we’re supposed to stop doing whatever we’re doing when we hear That Voice, but would it be okay if we just kept going for another minute or two? We believe there is a very tasty fermented acorn at the bottom of this hole somewhere, and we’ve already eaten all the rest.
Fakename: Quit barking!
Dogs: What? Quit barking? What about the part where that’s what you pay us for? We thought we were doing a good thing. Fine. But next time you’re menaced by a squirrel, don’t expect us to help. Oh look….there’s another one now! Woof, woof, woof, etc.
I would argue that cats are actually better than dogs at grasping your meaning and intent, but they give far less of a damn. Here’s an example:
Fakename: Stormy, get off the pillow.
Cat: No response.
Fakename: Stormy get off the pillow now, or I will kick your ass.
Cat: No response.
Fakename: If you don’t get off that pillow in the next five seconds, I’m going to stab you in the heart and hang you from the oak tree in the back yard and let the vultures shred your still-living flesh from your body.
Fakename: That does it. (Fakename pushes cat off the pillow.)