Imagine if dogs could talk.
Of course, that’s not all that difficult considering how many talking dogs show up in various forms of electronic media.
Television cartoons over the years have brought us dozens, including one who was a deputy, two who were stupid and another that was attached to a sarcastic cat.
Movies have produced plenty more – and several famous actors and actresses have contributed their voices to the cause, including Burt Reynolds (Charlie B. Barkin in All Dogs Go to Heaven from 1989), Kurt Russell (Copper in 1981’s The Fox and the Hound) and Norm MacDonald (Lucky in the 1998 version of Dr. Dolittle).
One of the latest conversing canines has become a huge hit on YouTube, starring in a video that was closing in on 30-million views only a few weeks after being posted. The clip, made by 36-year-old Canadian Andrew Grantham, features a dog named Clark being teased by his owner about treats he’s not going to get.
Many of you have undoubtedly already seen it. But if you haven’t, you should treat yourself to it (just Google “ultimate dog tease”). The first four times I watched it, I was laughing to the point of tears. And I know I’m not alone.
Grantham has made many similar pieces since starting in 2007 with a couple of cats talking to each other. He began by surfing for videos to voice-over, but his Talking Animals channel on YouTube now has some 330,000 subscribers, and he uses video submitted to him by fans.
While Clark is now his best-known animal with a grasp of the English language, the German shepherd who doesn’t get any maple bacon, steak, or chicken covered with cheese and cat treats isn’t Grantham’s first web star. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native is also the mastermind behind Jupiter the Cat (who answers viewer questions) and the beaver in the middle of the freeway who waves at people and repeats “welcome to Canada.”
But the Clark clip has gotten so much attention (even being referred to by David Letterman during one of his monologues) that Grantham may land a TV deal because of it.
Anyway, talking dogs are nothing new in my family’s household. We’ve had several canine companions share our living space over the years and most have developed distinct ways of sharing their thoughts and feelings through elaborate speech patterns (not really, of course, but like Grantham, we give them that ability ourselves).
One of our current dogs, Lily, is a red-haired mix of chow (you can tell by her tongue and lion’s “mane”), retriever and something that keeps her relatively small. She is one of those rare individuals to have an inherent knack of almost always acting right.
For reasons that are both lost in time and probably sort of random in the first place, Lily speaks in sort of a breathy tone with an accent that I guess could be described as eastern-European. When she talks (OK, when we talk for her), she displays the traits of not having much tolerance for stupidity or patience for mediocrity.
She knows what she wants and what she deserves.
“Lily, would you like a piece of broccoli?”
“Broc-o-lee? I do not theenk so. Geeve it to that stupeed baby heepo; I will wait for thee meat.”
The baby hippo she’s referring to is Jamie, who is 35-pounds of 100-percent omnivorous Welsh Corgi. Jamie doesn’t adhere to the standard species policy of eating mostly meaty and starchy foods. Raw, cooked, frozen – vegetable, fruit or nut – doesn’t matter. If it qualifies as edible in the people realm, he’ll down it.
His voice has a bit of southern twang and might be compared to a low-talking version of Forrest Gump.
“Jamie, you want this apple core?”
“Why yes, I would like that very much. And I’d be glad to help if you have anything else you might want to get rid of – like that white thing right over there.”
“You mean this cauliflower?”
“I do believe that is exactly what I mean.”
It’s fun having dogs around that offer their own input in most situations.
We have Lily to keep us in line…
“I do not weesh to be rude, but that is reedeeculous.”
And Jamie to keep things in perspective…
“I’m just not so sure that’s a good idea. But if you think it is, then I’m here to help.”
Clark would fit right in – and he might even get a bite of maple bacon.
Doug Davison is a writer, copy editor and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.