While many of us talk for our pets, including myself, it would be interesting if one day they opened their mouths and actually started speaking. For this concept, I chose a large Bernese Mountain Dog bellying up to the table about to demand the waiter or parent to bring his food. I would imagine this to be a bit terrifying at first, but after that it would just be wondrous and rather cool. That said, I’d have to wonder if I’d be thoroughly surprised by the voice that came out. Would it be anything like what I imagined or something completely different? Either way, I’d love the chance to find out. Our dog, Phineas, for example, sounds a bit like a spoiled kid with a popular Instagram account when we speak for him, but when he writes, as we discovered earlier this month, it’s much more dignified and slightly British. Were he to suddenly start speaking I wonder where on the spectrum his voice would actually lie. If he did start talking it would be extra startling because he’s a barkless dog and is generally silent most of the time, save the sneezes of disapproval. And whether he’s pawing at us or simply staring us down, he never really has a problem communicating. In many ways it’s as though a blend of imagination and charisma has already had the magical effect of making him talk.

When I was a kid, I always wished that my pet hamster, Sparky, could have talked to me. For him, I imagined a low-pitched voice, unexpected for a hamster, and a very slow speech pattern, like Eeyore in Winnie The Pooh, without all of the depressing angst. But, it sadly never happened. I read an article somewhere that said treating out pets with human characteristics was a bad thing in that it can make us miss the reality of what the pet truly needs. I’m not sure I can comply with this entirely as the very act of anthropomorphizing our pets is also how we’re able to empathize with them and not treat them like accessories in our lives, but part of the family. True, though, it’s certainly important to empathize with the true nature of the pet as well. In the case of our Phineas, not only does he speak like a dog might, he’s also rather dog-centric. For example, when we’re watching a show with no dogs in it he says, “Meh, it was okay, but there wasn’t a single good actor. They probably couldn’t afford it.” If we’d like to experience the best form of entertainment television has to offer, Phineas insists it must be Paw Patrol, due to its all-star cast. Philippe and I have only watched Paw Patrol once in French while visiting Paris and to our knowledge Phineas has never even seen it. But, then again, we really have no idea what he does with his day when we’re at work.

Yet, it’s true that when it comes to our pets, we are very different animals. Honestly, I feel the same about various humans at times. In the end, it’s all just a lesson in empathy, that wondrous ability to understand and share the feelings of another living being. While there are certain humans I struggle to empathize with, I’ve always been able to empathize with animals. Animals seem to rarely do things that aren’t immediately explainable, via some primal urge, genetic predisposition or instinct. Humans, however, can do the most horrific things and a host of psychologists are required to sort it all out, often failing in the end to truly understand why. And though we speak our own language, animals have theirs as well. We just don’t comprehend it fully and assume that our own animal language is far superior. I have to think that dolphins probably feel the same way. Perhaps all types of animals imagine their own communication is the best one of all. Dolphins might be mimicking us in their own language, thinking how cute we are in our inability to speak correctly, but how touching are those offerings of fish to make amends for our shortcomings. We’re a wild and diverse universe of living beings and I think it would be a better world indeed, one filled with positive and constructive communication, if animals could talk.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, Opus (Vivid Pink), and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Bernese Mountain Dog Watercolor Illustration - Doodlewash

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44 thoughts on “If Animals Could Talk

  1. It would be interesting, but I suspect it might be something like, “Is that a cookie? I like cookies. You don’t want that cookie do you? I haven’t eaten in forever and I might die if I don’t have that cookie.” Animals, of course, do talk. It’s just that so few humans speak animal.

  2. Beautiful doodlewash!👏👏👏 It seems you deeply love pet animals…My daughter was very fond of paw patrol…even my hubby also liked it. But Mickey mouse and Tom & Jerry are unbeatable….Indian Panchatantra tales, Jataka tales and Hitopadesia are full of animal stories were the animals can talk…

  3. Our cat, Kirbie, talks perfectly well. One particular meow means let me out. A bite on the hand means quit petting my belly, I hate that. And a disdainful look means, you don’t really think yelling at me is going to make me get out of this pot of plants, do you. Lol! I’ve lived with animals almost my entire life. I’m fact in thinking about it, I only missed my four years as an undergrad, and the six years we lived in Chicagoland. Almost as soon as we moved here, a cat adopted us. Some days it’s surprising that I don’t hack up a hairball because I’m sure I’ve eaten enough fur by accident to form one.

  4. First off, your dog is amazing. He looks like he belongs at the table. Next up, funny you mention Pooh because that is who I started to sketch. However, this morning I might be erasing him because last night we watched a documentary on public tv about Koko the gorilla. I think if any animal was going to talk, it would be her! One last thing, Phineas would be enjoying the Hallmark channel these days. Seems they have jumped on the doggy train with their movies. 😉

    1. Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕Aww… Pooh or Koko would be awesome… I couldn’t possibly choose! And yay! I produced a Hallmark movie a few years ago and adore that channel and everyone working there! It’s the way the world should be, so I’m not surprised it’s adding more dogs! 😉

  5. Charlie says, ” it’s all just a lesson in empathy, that wondrous ability to understand and share the feelings of another living being”

    The way to world peace.

    I love the tilt of his chin. The whole thing, painting and prose is grand.

  6. Just as well she can’t talk to me. I don’t think I can handle the demands for treats and can we walk now? can we walk now? Is it time to walk yet?

    Looking at your sketch I now see what you mean about using color for a black dog. I may make an attempt to paint her.

    1. hehe! So true! 😃💕 I’m quite sure if my dog could talk I’d have to cover my ears for all the things he’d request! lol And yay! Awesome! So thrilled this sketch inspired you. Blacks scared me at first, but they’re way more fun when you think of them as just “darks” and play with color!

  7. Obviously this Bernese Mountain pooch is talking to you – and through your portrait of him, to me as well. Beautiful painting, Charlie, made even more charming via the suggested anthropomorphism. He’s have me running to make him bacon and eggs.

  8. I’ve never thought of HOW my cats would sound, but I do think of WHAT they would say. One would say, “Enough with the kisses, Mom. And don’t be late with dinner.” And the other one would say, “Play? C’mon, let’s play 24 hours a day. Grab that toy and let’s play. Until I am bored, that is . . . “

  9. Nice read. I love the picture of the dog waiting for its food. I have a cat at home and if he could talk then it would be:
    ‘Is it food time yet?’
    ‘Let me sleep!!’
    Again nice article

  10. I love your insights! I’ve always wanted to speak verbally with animals, but at least we still communicate in our own way.

    I’ve wondered how our pets would sound as well. I always figured they’d sound like us, but I remember hearing one of our cats sneeze one time and thinking, “Wow, that was kind of nasally and high-pitched. What if that’s what their voice would sound like if they spoke human?” Since I think everyone’s voice tends to shine through when they sneeze, it makes sense but also bothered me because of how weird their tone would sound to my ears if they did speak in a high-pitched, Stitch-like tone.

    I loved hearing about Sparky, too, and the way in which you interpreted his voice. That’s so creative, maybe he did the same and imagined what you’d sound like if you spoke hamster! I totally agree with your opinions on dolphins, by the way. It reminds me of the beginning of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when they sing, “So long, and thanks for all the fish” 😂😂😂

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