Kavi on Snow
Dogs use names. They know their own name. They know each other’s names as I use them and they have names for each other that are used by all of the pack. They even have a name for me. Katya, ever the verbal, uses their name for me the most. My name sounds like she’s gargling rocks. If I really stretch my listening I realize that is how her vocal tract produces my English name of Wa-l-t-er. Their vocal track is a bit different than ours so some things come out with a strong canine accent. They’ll use this when they want my attention. When I ask what they’ll explain the details such as wanting to go through the door, food, water, pig out, raven/crow, coyotes about, etc.
Some names in dog also sounds a bit like how we say them but it is more of a howl. They use it to announce when someone’s coming home. They also call the UPS driver by name. Not his name but the company name. It comes out as Ooo-hack. Sorry but I can’t pronounce the last bit. I think they’re trying to mimic my calling him U-P-S which I pronounce as OOPS! but something got lost in translation since they can’t do P’s and I can’t do their closest equivelant consonant.
Lili’s name in Wolfish is a very fast chatter click of teeth – all the dogs use the same name for her quite clearly. However, I have a sneaking suspicious that this is actually a title of rank rather than her name. Our mutual pidgin is not good enough for me to ask for clarification of this fine detail of language but Lili’s mother had the same name when she was the Alpha female as did her mother Tika. It was not until some time after Kia died that others began to call Lili Click-click-click-clack. The torch had passed.
Speaking of titles, the dogs have another call they use for me which I think means something like “Commander-on-Deck!” It is an announcement and call to that they pass back and forth when I show up. This is distinctly different from the passed back and forth calls of the hunt, of the mailwoman and other songs. Speaking of the mailwoman, Annie, who delivers our mail, likes to get our dogs howling and she realized one day that they’ll mimic back to her with their throaty accents. She now howls out “I love you!” and Kavi howls it right back at her quite clearly. Annie gets a big kick out of that.
In addition to titles and individual names the dogs have general classification names too. They have a clear word for pig, both in their own language and in our pidgin sign language where they call the pigs by the word Nose-to-the-Ground”. Piglets they call “Baby” Nose-to-the-ground by prepending the sign Little. The ferrets they call the “Little People” and they use the same class name for our house ferrets as for the wild ermine who they tend to not hunt but rather watch with fascination. The house ferrets they clearly consider pets, asking in the evening for them to be brought out to play.
I use group names such as “Male Dogs”, “All Dogs” and such. For example I might say “Male Dogs Out” to send forth all the males. They recognize this as being distinct from “All Dogs Out” or “Hanno and Kavi Out”. Another common use is “Dogs Stay Out, Romula In” in which case all the dogs back off except Romula who then passes through the gate.
Dogs can count, they can communicate, they do set theory which makes sense with their hunting skills that translates to herding teamwork. Predators who work in teams need to be able to discuss the business of the day. We name things so that we can talk about them. The dogs use a lot of names and talk a lot. Much of their conversation goes right past me but I pickup tid-bits here and there, especially if they want me to understand.
Makes Me Want to Gag
Katya the Creative Curser
Porcupines & Stock Car Racing
Speaker for the Dogs
Outdoors: 24°F/-8°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 56°F/52°F
Daily Spark: Don’t have your friends at your back – keep them at 120° angles. Way of the Wolf