Translating Ozzie isn't that difficult

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I was chatting with my dog, Ozzie, the other day when I came across an interesting article.

"Hey, look at this," I said. "There's a new product coming to the United States called the Bow-Lingual Dog Translator."

I showed him the article, then realized he's only 2 years old and doesn't read yet.

"Here's what it says: 'The Bow-Lingual proves that one bark is worth a thousand words. It's the first translation device created to help owners communicate with their dogs,'" I read to him.

Ozzie let out a big yawn and stretched out on his side in the sun. I interpreted that to mean he wasn't very interested.

Undeterred, I read on.

"The Bow-Lingual Dog Translator is the first product to feature the Animal Emotion Analysis System developed by the Japan Acoustic Laboratory of Sound Science.

"The laboratory recorded 2,000 barks, yips, growls, howls and other sounds 'spoken' by over 50 pure breeds and mixed breeds. The sounds were analyzed by specialists in animal behavior, and entered into a doggie database. This allows the Bow-Lingual to interpret a dog's feelings, for example: 'I want to play more' or 'I'm nervous.'

"The microphone worn on the dog's collar transmits 'Doglish' as well as nonverbal cues to the owner's microprocessor contolled receiver. The receiver matches the information to its doggie database, interprets it into words and pictures, and displays the translation on the LCD screen."

By now, Ozzie was snoring, which I interpreted to mean he was asleep.

One thing I was wondering is, if this thing was developed in Japan, whether it translated Doglish into English or Japanese. Because if Ozzie started to communicate to me in Japanese, I would have to invite someone over to translate that.

It would begin to resemble the United Nations around the house. If the United Nations allows dogs.

I was contemplating how much a Bow-Lingual translator might cost when Ozzie roused himself, strolled over and began slurping from his water dish. I interpreted this to mean he was thirsty.

He then sniffed his empty food bowl, looked at me and looked back at his bowl. Taking a wild guess, I deduced he might be hungry. So I poured in some food. Sure enough, he began eating.

About that time, the neighbor's dogs let out a howl. Ozzie's head jerked up, and he ran to the front door with a low growl. Based on my own unscientific analysis of animal behavior, I figured out that somebody was probably in front of the house.

Sure enough, when I looked out the window there was a woman walking down the sidewalk with her dog on a leash. There was now quite a bit of commotion among dogs in the neighborhood, much of which I didn't fully understand. Without a Bow-Lingual Dog Translator, I could only surmise they were saying something like "I'm a dog! This is my territory! Go away! Now!"

They might have been warning any napping cats in the neighborhood that a dog was headed their way, but I doubted it. I saw our cat, Mel, sound asleep in a chair. If he'd been awake, of course, I would have needed a Meow-Lingual Cat Translator to know what he was saying, although Mel doesn't talk much.

As it was, he was twitching a little in his sleep. I interpreted this to mean, "Stupid dogs. Why don't they shut up?"

After the ruckus died down, Ozzie grabbed his gnarly old chew toy off the carpet and trotted over to where I was sitting. I interpreted this to mean he wanted to play.

So he tugged on his end for awhile and I tugged on my end. He has a habit of letting a low "Rrrrrr" rumble from his throat while we're doing this. I interpret this to mean he's having fun, in a dog sort of way, although it could go much further. He may be expressing some deep-seated hunting instinct designed to terrify his prey. I don't know how far the Bow-Lingual delves into dog psychology.

We tugged for awhile, then I told him: "This is boring. I'm going to turn on the television and check for baseball scores. Then I might get up and fix myself something to eat. I wonder if I need to go to the store for milk?"

Ozzie, obviously, has no Human Translator, so I don't know if he understood any of it. But he mosied over to his favorite spot and stretched out for another nap. I figured he got the idea.

About that time, my wife, Jenny, wandered into the room. "Who were you talking to?" she asked.

"I was talking to the dog," I replied.

She gave me a look which I interpreted to mean ... well, I don't know what it meant.

You know, wives have thousands of ways of communicating with their husbands, most of which we apparently miss completely.

It flashed through my mind that her look could mean A) only an idiot would be carrying on a conversation with the dog, B) why was I watching baseball when I could be doing something constructive, C) was I planning to go to the store or not, D) did I realize our anniversary is coming up soon, E) why were my shoes still in the middle of the living room floor, or F) any of innumerable other things that hadn't even occurred to me and probably never would.

The Japan Acoustic Laboratory of Sound Science could do the world a great service if it could come up with a Wife Translator. We might be afraid of the truth, but at least we'd know.

In the meantime, my wife came over and gave me a kiss. Then Ozzie, being the jealous kind, wandered over and gave me a big, sloppy lick.

I interpreted both of those to mean I should stop worrying about what they were thinking.

Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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