Petaphor

MH3 —  October 11, 2012

Do you talk to your pets?

Do they talk back?

Do you ever listen to yourself talking to your pets? Perhaps you haven’t realized that you are not using your inside voice when you talk to your pets? Don’t believe me? Then shimmy up next to someone with their pet. Stand quietly and listen as they carry on a full-scale, wide-ranging dialogue with their Devon Rex.

That’s you.

You talk to your pet in some sugary sweet language that was created for communicating with babies and elderly people several centuries ago. Over time, its use and public acceptance has moved from engaging with the infant human and the infirmed, to the furried and the fanged of all ages.

Pet language does not include condescension. It doesn’t include teasing. It doesn’t include constructive criticism. Nowhere to be found is 360 feedback. Let alone unsolicited advice.

No pet language is free from the modern day burdens of how we vocally tap dance around each other — to not say what is on our minds for risk of offending our employees, our sisters, or sisters-in-law or even our sister-in-law’s sister-in-law. It’s a beautiful language dominated by love, murmurs, and gently placed kisses. It is often conducted at a proximity that would make even a world champion close-talker recoil. Silky words passed over lips that oscillate like a guppy fish at feeding time, are often accompanied with hand motions or petting, that if used on a human would make your local arch bishop proud.

You can deny it all you want but I have seen you do it. I have seen you bending down to eye level with your dog, cradling your cat to your neck, pressing your nose against the fish tank, letting your bird perch on your pointing finger, burying your face in your horse’s mane. With little regard for the mouse it just killed with its bare paws or the genitals it has just self-washed with its tongue, nor the germs that have clung to the glass; you unleash a puckered bouquet of smooches across its head, belly, or shoulders. All the while uttering those silly sounds.

Silly? Well think about it objectively. You are talking to your pet. Even sillier, you actually think it understands you. Why else would you ask it questions. Why else would you look in its eyes or glance at its tail or listen for that purring that you conveniently deem to be an actual response. Why else would continue this for minutes on end, with no concept of the time passing by you.

No stone is being thrown in this here glass house. Yours truly is just as guilty. I have more conversations with Apollo (Feline. Male. Norwegian maybe?) and Prince (Canine. Male. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mixed with Poodle… yes, that spells Cavapoo!) than I can count.

But why not. You and I both know how nice it is to be listened to for a change. How refreshing it is to always be right. How carefree it can be to not have to think about how words, hand gestures, or wandering eyeballs will be interpreted. My grammar can be suspect. My train of thought can be a train wreck. My jokes can be a shipwreck. Doesn’t matter, my pets listen to me. They don’t interrupt. They truly love me.

In fact I read a draft of this blog to them. Want to know their thoughts?

Check the comment boxes later today!

One response to Petaphor

  1. Great insights Mark. I used to sell into the dental market. Brand management is some the commonly challenges the dental industry. Often dentists would express frustration that their patients would spend more money on their pets than on their oral health. My-tongue in-cheek response was usually “when you’re down and depressed, you don’t curl up with a molar.”

    I’ll read out your draft to Maxi and Bali.