Monday, July 09, 2012

Speaking animals

I was finally able to relax this weekend after a marathon week last week. The 4th was exhausting and then we had issues with getting the Mobile American Corner app up on iTunes and Android (it is up now...a little late but better late than never. You can find the iTunes version here and the Android version here.)

To celebrate, M and I went out with friends to a little restaurant called Paat in Viimsi. The food was great and we got to sit in a covered outside area right next to the Baltic. A thunderstorm rolled in while we ate, and it was beautiful watching it over the water.

On our way home, we saw a large schnauzer running frantically in the street. It was neatly groomed, had a collar on and was running up to any car that stopped as if he thought that car would pick him up. M and I both assumed that he had escaped his fence during the storm. We drove a bit further in silence. I was fretting about the dog getting hit. Apparently M was too, because she said, "Maybe we should go back and get him." I think I had completed my u-turn before she completed the sentence!

We found the dog pretty easily. M called out the window, "Hi dog!" And I said, you probably need to spak in Estonian.

Sure enough, when I said "come here" and "are you a good dog?" in Estonian, the dog happily trotted over to me. I got him to hop into the car.

I just want to stop here and say that this goes to prove that the folks who think animals only understand tone and not words are wrong. I remember the little girl in Jerusalem who used to babble at Noostie in Hebrew. When I finally explained that Noostie didn't understand Hebrew, she looked at Noostie and said, in English, "Dog." Noostie looked at her. So she asked how to say sit in English, I told her, and she said, "Sit!" And Noostie sat. Because Noostie doesn't understand Hebrew. She understands English.

Likewise, our tone with this dog was no different in English or Estonian. But he didn't understand the English. he understood the Estonian perfectly.

Anyway, we stopped a guy walking down the street and asked if he knew where the dog belonged and he pointed out a house. We went there, told the owner what had happened and returned the dog, who seemed really happy to see his home and his mom. 

I am not sure which surprised her more, the foreigners speaking Estonian or the fact that they had her dog in their car! But she seemed geniunely thankful either way and took her dog inside.

And we went home feeling good about our good deed.


Kate said...

Funny you mention it. My husband speaks Hebrew and I speak Arabic, and our dog is a rescue originally from a French-speaking home that we trained in English. We have a friendly competition going to see who can train him in a Semitic language first... :)

(So far I'm winning, but only by ta'al! (come!) instead of Bo!)

sclawgrl said...

My helper talks to Millie all day in Tagalog. She's going to be bilingual by the end of my tour!