UNDERSTANDING: How about a dog for PM - there’s no competition from any party.

UNDERSTANDING: How about a dog for PM - there’s no competition from any party.

AFTER another week of unremittingly grim news, here’s something a bit lighter: dogs have learnt to respond to human verbal and nonverbal cues and understand 200+ words and phrases. A fact doubtless of particular interest to all new dog owners during the pandemic.

Well, my dog has a vocabulary of 200+ words, responding to ‘walk’ ‘walk’ ‘walk’ even when said in 200 different ways each time. (There are expats who, after decades of living in their chosen country, understand fewer than 200 words of its language!). When she wouldn’t stop following me around the house if she heard the word ‘walk’, I started spelling it instead. She then learnt to spell (she’s already an expert at lip reading).

I’ve resorted to Spanish or French. But I think she cottoned on to the intonation so I now say ‘perambulation’. She hasn’t cottoned on to that yet…

And of course, all dogs can count. Just try taking three biscuits from the tin and only giving them two. In fact, my dog can solve quadratic equations though her spelling is admittedly poor. I blame the state of our modern education system. Or Brexit.

Now, it’s all very well to talk about dogs and intelligence, but my cat, bless him, can understand several languages and to show his superiority chooses not to engage with any of them. But have you ever seen a cat sniffer, cat for the blind or police cat van?

Critics claim dogs are simply ‘responding’ to their owner’s tone of voice and nonverbal cues, which doesn’t indicate word recognition, let alone comprehension. But what about guide dogs?

Guide dog assessment is first done at six or seven weeks based on character traits. Then they go through first level training for about 15 months with a foster family before being assessed if they meet guide dog character and fitness requirements which are VERY tough. Finally, there’s a minimum of 20 standard commands they must master.

How about a dog for PM? There’s no competition from any party. They’d win best in show, paws down!

Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘The Sentinel’, ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Betrayal’, ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.net) available online as eBook (€0.99; £0.99), Apple Books, paperback and audiobook. All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity.  

Nora Johnson’s opinions are her own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.

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Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.