There are a lot of articles by highly respected animal behaviorists and trainers available that talk about animal communication. What is your dog/cat/horse trying to tell you? A flick of the ear can be annoyance or a sign that they heard you yell at them. Snarling teeth are never a good sign. Squinty eyes can also mean bad things. But what if our animals had verbal skills equal to ours? What if they did have voices and could tell us exactly what they are thinking and feeling? “Why must I eat this food when you are having steak?” ” “I do not wish to canter at that end of the arena.” “I think he got three more treats than I did!!” “Why do I have to work when he gets to stand around all day?” “You are the meanest Mom EVER!”
Personally, I don’t know if I could handle the fact that my horses and dogs could talk. I imagine that my animals would all have sarcastic personalities with frequent potty mouth issues. Basically five unruly children, two of which weigh half a ton. Um, yeah, things would be a lot different around the house and barn if there were verbal skills.
So with that thought in mind, I started thinking about who my animals would sound like. If they were to star in an animated show or a Mr. Ed-type sitcom, who would do their voices? What actor, politician, or public figure could capture their personality? So here goes…
Our dog Tim, a former therapy dog, has a politician’s personality. He likes to stop and greet everyone we pass on the street, “Hello! So nice to see you today.” At the vet clinic, he will seek out the technicians and vets to say hello. If he could shake hands with everyone, he would. He would be a baby kisser. He is a constant beggar, so that plays right into the politician personality. What have you done for me lately? After a little deliberation, I decided that Ronald Reagan would be the ideal voice. A former actor and president, he could easily capture Tim’s persona.
Spencer is my quirky dog. He wouldn’t let us pet him for the first year. He would growl and run away. Over time, he has finally realized that love from us is a good thing and he will now nudge you for attention. He has calmed down tremendously, but when he knows it is time for a walk or a ride in the truck, all bets are off. He is a frenetic, hot mess. He is also the instigator when it is play time. His move is the “boop on the nose” until Brownie joins the fun. Kevin James I think could capture Spencer’s quirkiness. “Pet me, pet me! No, stop, I have had enough.” “Time for a ride!! Oh, goodie, let’s go let’s go! We are wasting time here people!”
Brownie, oh, Brownie. He is a spitfire. For a dog who is missing part of his right femur due to a traumatic injury that required a femoral head ostectomy, he moves like a greyhound. He barks more than any dog I have ever owned. He will run the other way when I call him to come inside. He is wide-open 24/7 and will bark like a fool at any dog that dares to come into his sightline and bounce like a ball at the end of his leash. We are quite the sight to see on our regular walks. He needs an actor who is unafraid of letting loose. John Belushi is a close second, but it is Will Ferrell who is my final choice. I see him, in the movie Old School, running down the road naked and when asked by his wife what he was doing, “We’re going streaking in the quad!” Of course, there is no one with him. Yeah, that about captures Brownie.
And now the big boys…
Cigar, my retired OTTB with personality to spare. Of all my animals, he is the bad boy of the crowd. Whether he was halting at C to poop right in front of the judge, almost cow-kicking a clinician as we rode past (she had to lean to the side to avoid the contact), or casually eating my $50 bill that was to pay for our lesson, he has always tested the boundaries of my love. He was the horse no one wanted to be near in the warm up ring; you just never knew what was coming next. The voice of Cigar needs to capture that edginess and living-on-the-edge attitude. Vince Vaughn would do Cigar justice. Cigar would be the one with the most to say and the one whose thoughts would make any movie worthy of an “R” rating for the questionable language. “Where the #$$%% have you been? I am starving.” “Why, no, I do not wish to be brushed.” ”
And finally, last but certainly not least, is Ike. I struggled the most to pick his “voice.” Ike has presence. Ike is a gentle giant, but can get very grumpy when my attention is elsewhere. He is amicable, stoic, but has a playful side. I will never forget when he decided to play Lights On, Lights Off in the barn one night…the light switch is now protected by chicken wire to keep him from flicking the lights in the barn on and off all night long. I debated with my friend who could capture his spirit. For some reason, we decided that he would have a British accent. Prince William? No, to royal and reserved. Winston Churchill? Too serious. Finally, we settled on Hugh Grant. I watched Notting Hill recently and his soft-spoken demeanor could do Ike justice. “What do you mean that I can’t have my dinner now?” “Why must I always be the one who works the hardest?” “Oh, I see you brought apples for me. Why must I share?” [so, as you read that, did you imagine Hugh Grant’s British accent?]
So, I would love to hear who you think could capture your furry family members personas. If you know my animals, I’d love to know what you think of the choices.
p.s. I promise to update you on our progress towards Second Level soon.